NEW YORK: Microsoft, the tech company, is making effective use of online video to engage consumers – and has discovered that this channel can match the impact of television on many core metrics.

Kathleen Hall, Corporate Vice President/Global Advertising and Media at Microsoft, discussed this subject at Advertising Week 2016.

More specifically, she suggested that digital video offers some distinct advantages for brands when it comes to extending their narratives.

"What I love about online video is that you don't face the constraints that you face in television – of time, fundamentally. So the depth of the story is the time it takes to tell the story, which gives you a lot of flexibility," she said. (For more, read Warc's exclusive reports: Microsoft's approach to digital storytelling.)

"I think the richness and depth that you can go to in digital without constraints of time, and the sequencing of how you release online video versus what you might do on television – when you're forced to rely on the timing of the program – has really changed the game for digital."

One example of Microsoft's successful use of this medium was "Make What's Next", an initiative coinciding with International Women's Day 2016, and drawing on the insight that many girls and young women in the US couldn't name a female inventor.

Having highlighted the problem of educational bias, the company then created content looking at female innovators like Ada Lovelace, Tabitha Babbitt and Yvonne Brill – and inspiring girls to pursue similar aspirations.

This effort was supported by Microsoft's owned-media channels, its encouraging of viral enthusiasm for the program, and some tactical paid media. But the underlying story, Hall reported, is always the most important consideration.

"The story is everything," she reported. "You've got to have a great idea [that is] executed well. People aren't going to pass around crap. That's not going to happen."

And the impact of "Make What's Next" helped prove out the growing power of online video when compared with more traditional channels.

"We measured it in our Nielsen data," Hall said. "It scored as well as an ad we ran on television in terms of recall. We never put it on television so if you look at the efficiency of that, it's pretty darn cool."

Data sourced from Warc