Windows Phone 8 Live Tile Advertising Could be Great for Consumers

WP Central Apollo Mockup with AdsGo to your Xbox360, log onto Xbox Live, and go to the bottom right hand corner of the first tile cluster and what do you see? An advertising live tile. A live tile whose sole purpose is to take up space and make money for people who profit from advertising. Seems like a good idea right? Well on a 30″ TV screen, that little tile takes up a square inch at best, and isn’t a big deal. In fact, most of the time these advertisements are for new or upcoming games and at worst a new Xbox service. We can go about our day not dwelling on the fact that our gaming device is trying to sell us new games; it would seem odd if our gaming device didn’t inform us of new titles in this new age of information anyways. But then I look down at my phone, and try to picture the same situation, and I feel a bit frustrated. On the home page, I can fully see 7.75 live tiles, all of which I use on a daily basis. I can see the weather, my fiance’s facebook status, the album cover of the last song I was listening to, my people tile, my stock quote and a few others. What I don’t see is an advertisement, and I think that Microsoft would do well to keep it that way. Rumours have been going around that the new Windows 8 update will feature a live tile hosting an advertisement for generating profits from fat fingers. While I can handle the sometimes beneficial advertisement that takes up 1/20th of my television screen, I can’t handle the fact that 1/8th of my screen will be taken up by advertisements. 

If this is inevitable, Microsoft needs to take notes right now. In the store, the models must not under any circumstances feature advertisments. As soon as they start putting them on the home screens of every phone, it will become harder and harder for them to put new phones in fresh pockets. Advertisements do not need to be placed on the top of the tile list on the home screen or they need to be maneuvarable by the user. Having advertisements where users keep their most useful live tiles would get very annoying, very quickly. That is prime real estate for both users and advertisers, but the advantage must go to the user in this situation especially when maintaining your consumer base is priority number one when it comes to the Windows Phone. The opportunity to shrink the advert tiles would be optimum, as Windows Phone 8 will feature the ability to change the size of the on screen live tiles instead of having a standard size. Giving the user the ability to assess priority to his or her tiles is a great feature, but one that is necessary when it comes to on screen advertising. 

There are effective ways to advertise on the home screen without forcing the matter on the user. Free apps already feature an advertisement across the top of the screen which is usually avoided with ease. Some free apps that display information on the home screen, such as the free weather channel app, could display an advertisement in that tile for one or two seconds on either all of or half of the tile. It would then be at the discretion of the app’s owner whether touching the tile while the advertisement is displayed will take the user to the intended app or to an external advertisers web page. Again, this will be a balancing act between giving the consumer what they want and profiting from advertisements. 

But if Microsoft really wants to make a spash with this phone, it could put all the advertisements it wants on the device for a free phone. This doesn’t mean that by locking the user into a two year contract that you get a free phone, this means that you will get a free phone and free phone service as long as they can put an advertisement on your screen. When Google first announced their Android, rumors surrounded the announcement with whether or not their phone would follow such a business model. As we all know now, it instead went the traditional route and became a huge success. However, that was during a time when Nokia was the number one cell phone manufacturer and the iPhone was only with AT&T. Providing such a service would come at a huge cost to Microsoft. They would have to lay down their own infrastructure for their phones all over the country and would have to gain rights to their own band of radio frequencies. It would probably be easier for Microsoft to buy a cell phone company outright or work very closesly with one instead of performing all of these tasks itself. The long run potential for profit would be enormous as it would attract both people who are looking to cut costs and low income families trying to gain access to phone service. Putting smart phones into the hands of low income families would not only benefit society, but the taxpaying citizen as well. In 2011, the government paid 1.6 Billion dollars to assist low income families in paying their cell phone bills as a part of a new government program. If Microsft were to instead implement a free phone plan, it could effectively compete with profiting cell phone providers and eliminate the need for this government program. The cost of having an advertisement on the screen is much easier to swallow than the cost of a cell phone bill at the end of each month and benefit many people, including Microsoft. 

But alas, I am a dreamer. While I’m doubtful that such a thing could ever happen, it is probably an idea worth exploring.