5 Things B2B Marketers Can Learn From Windows 10’s Native Advertising

With Windows 10 came a lot of changes, one of which was advertising integrated into the operating system. There are subtle advertisements contained in the start menu, the lock screen, and through various desktop notifications.

As you can imagine, users aren’t exactly happy. But there are merits to Microsoft’s marketing-focused OS. There are some lessons that B2B marketers can take away from both the positives and negatives of Windows 10’s native ads.

They Aren’t Exactly Optional

You can turn off these advertisements, but the default Windows 10 computer comes with all the advertisement options turned on. This means that Windows 10 starts gathering information about you as soon as you turn on your machine for the first time.

This lack of consent is what bothers many people. They buy a new Windows computer, only to see that there are new bits of advertising spread across the interface. Although this is not a new practice, as preinstalled software usually clutters up most new devices, it is likely the new form is that has caused so much backlash.

And since these ads are personalized, that means data is being collected about users to create ads that fit them. The fact that this is automatically on when someone starts up the computer makes some people edgy.

The B2B Lesson: Ask for consent when possible. There’s a reason that there are so many blog posts teaching you how to turn off these ads. People don’t like having their privacy intruded upon. So ask them for some information, allow them to allow you to track them. This might reduce the amount of data you collect, but it will also reduce the uneasiness that people feel when they are being watched without their knowledge.


They’re Beautiful

The lock screen advertisements are beautiful. They’re either gorgeous photos (usually featuring nature) or they are illustrations. And they don’t feel like ads, because oftentimes they don’t even mention a product name.

The B2B Lesson: The key here is that the content on the lock screen in so interesting and/or beautiful that people want to get more information. I’ve clicked through numerous times because it’s really good content. The pictures they choose are engaging, they make you stop and look for a second. If you can make your audience appreciate your content even as it tries to push them towards a service, you are doing something right.


They’re Personalized and Interactive

Not only does Microsoft track your behavior to find out what you might like to see for content, they also give you options to personalize that experience. In the Windows lock screen, there is an option in the top right corner labeled, “Like what you see?” You then get to choose if you like it or you don’t. Saying you don’t like it changes the picture and limits the appearance of similar pictures.

For example, I got rid of a good many industrial looking pictures that weren’t my style. Now, I don’t see those types of images anymore and I like more of the content that I do see. The ads now have a better chance of appealing to me and, by extension, better chance of getting their desired outcome.

The B2B Lesson: Make sure that your customers have a say in what they see. This gives them the feeling of control, which is positive towards moving them closer to converting. Every interaction that they have with your brand reinforces their relationship with it. A simple survey, a face-to-face chat or suggestion form can generate important feedback from users.


They’re Pushing a Platform

From what I can see, every ad is for another Microsoft product or service. Every bit of the native advertising on Windows 10 is pushing you to use more Microsoft products. The lock screen ads push you towards Bing and Groove and more entertainment-style mediums. Then notifications pop up occasionally, trying to convince you to buy Microsoft Word. Then there are the suggested apps, which are also Microsoft products.

The B2B Lesson: The message is clear if you view Windows 10 as a marketing-focused OS. All the ads are focused on pushing other Microsoft products. They know that you are already using Microsoft products and are hoping to upsell and cross-sell you on different Microsoft products. This clear and consistent message is something that companies should strive for.


They’re Subtle

The casual user likely barely notices that they are being advertised to. That’s how subtle they are. By not calling them ads, by not having them flash in the face of the user, these ads seem natural.

To a typical user, the lock screen simply has beautiful pictures every day. It doesn’t look like an ad, instead, it’s simply a part of the user experience.

The B2B Lesson: Make your content feel like part of the user experience. They don’t need to be obviously salesy. Just make the content good, informative, and entertaining. Make it feel natural and your leads won’t resent being contacted.

Microsoft did a wonderful job integrating advertisements into its operating system, guiding users towards more of its software. But some users aren’t happy because they didn’t get a choice as to whether or not they would see these ads. Like anything, there are positives and negatives associated with Microsoft’s course of action. You can’t make everyone happy, but you can learn from Microsoft’s successes and issues.


Do you love or hate the Windows 10 ads? Why? Did you even notice them? Let us know in the comments section.


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