Microsoft ad boss Kathleen Hall: ‘Data’s a big part of what we do but it’s not everything’ | M&M Global

Microsoft ad boss Kathleen Hall: ‘Data’s a big part of what we do but it’s not everything’

Microsoft’s corporate vice-president of global advertising and media Kathleen Hall says that if the marketing, media and tech industries are to evolve, they must engender greater diversity, not obsess over data analysis at the expense of intuition and adopt a more human approach to business.

Kathleen Hall interview

Hall was speaking to M&M Global editor Alex Brownsell during a face-to-face interview at Cannes Lions.

She was very positive about the degree of change that is taking place at Microsoft, including new management – most notably chief executive Satya Nadella, whom she described as an inspiring leader -new culture and new products.

“It’s a really good time for us,” she said. “The more human, approachable, empowering Microsoft has made its debut and people are really responding well to it.”

The tech giant’s more ‘human’ approach will be reflected in the launch marketing for Windows 10, she added, although details of the campaign are under wraps. The approach also extends to Microsoft’s relationship with brands, media owners and agencies.

“We’re not this serious, stodgy, big blue corporate entity; we’re a partner,” Hall said. “The interesting thing, especially in media conversations, is that there are multiple levels of partnership – we’re buyers, we’re sellers, we’re a technology partner and platform.”

Discussing broadly how the marketing, media and technology sectors could evolve, Hall hopes for and anticipates change.

“I would like us to regroup a little bit in terms of being a relationship-based business,” she said. “I feel that the human part of our business needs to remain integral.

“Particularly for young people in the business [it’s important] not to sit in a room and analyse data to make decisions. Talk to people. Data’s a big part of what we do but it’s not everything. There’s intuition, there’s judgement and creativity involved. Analysis alone is not going to get you an answer.”

As a head of diversity at Microsoft, Hall is also eager for multiplicity.

“We’ve got to diversify,” she said. “We need more ethnicities involved in advertising, we need more women involved at the highest levels. I think perspective is really important as you market to an increasingly diverse market. The industry’s been slow and I’m an advocate of trying to change that quickly.”

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