Microsoft Advertising strives to ensure ROI for marketers and to generate maximum ad revenue. To this end, the company trains those who advertise through Microsoft channels on how to most effectively use the platform for their campaigns. Microsoft needed to cut training costs and boost efficiency. The company turned to redtech, who designed and built the Microsoft Advertising online platform, to develop an online training system. The system provides personalized training to users, enables marketers to track staff training progress, and offers built-in support. The environment has allowed Microsoft to eliminate in-person trainings—thereby cutting costs significantly while boosting the effectiveness of its training programs.
The Microsoft Atlas Media Console includes online tools for planning, managing, and reporting on campaigns that marketers run through Microsoft media channels. The suite is a comprehensive management environment, and to run campaigns effectively, training is required. Microsoft used to conduct trainings in the field. However, this didn’t allow marketers the flexibility to train on their own time, or to track the progress or knowledge retention of their campaign managers, media buyers, and administrators. Also, for Microsoft, the cost of sending trainers out in the field became prohibitive.
Microsoft Advertising needed to transition to an online, interactive training system that would allow users to easily find and complete the appropriate training sessions. To ensure that it would be easy to manage and update, the company wanted to connect the training system with the existing Microsoft Advertising Client Center Portal. The portal is a custom-developed content management system (CMS), which redtech built and has maintained for more than 10 years, and which powers Microsoft’s entire catalog of online advertising offerings and opportunities. Microsoft also wanted to include customer support tools in the training environment, to reduce the volume of help desk inquiries.
redtech is a Microsoft Silver Certified Partner and an MSVP Preferred Vendor in multiple service categories. As the original developer of the Microsoft Advertising Client Center Portal, we were able to combine deep technical knowledge of the existing platform with a vision for the user experience, and to seamlessly connect the two to make the training environment easy to manage and highly effective.
Called the Atlas Training Application, we based the user experience and visual design on a “film strip” analogy, which guides users to appropriate training course content (such as serving ads, tracking ad visits, navigating account levels, and more), and to completing pass/fail quizzes at the end.
We built the experience in Microsoft Silverlight, but all of the training content is created, edited, and updated in the Microsoft .NET-based Client Center Portal CMS, which runs on a SQL Server database. This integration allows Microsoft Advertising content administrators to manage training content without having to switch to a different system. And, when updates are made in the CMS, the changes appear in instantly in the Silverlight interface.
Marketers access the Atlas Training Application through the Client Center Portal, which provides a central location for all training materials, as well as a knowledge base and customer support. The system recognizes each user upon login with a Windows Live ID, and displays personalized information. For instance, a console shows the user a list of completed and uncompleted courses, a record of pass/fail exams, and a list of suggested additional courses. Marketing managers have access to a dashboard that displays a roll-up view of their staff members’ training progress.
At a fraction of its former costs, Microsoft now delivers highly effective training, with built-in reporting and enhanced customer support, all within the same online system it uses for the rest of its advertising activities.
By moving to online training, Microsoft has saved nearly $53 for every dollar it has spent creating the Atlas Training Application video-based environment. The company has also significantly minimized support requests and costs, because users find answers to common questions through an online knowledge base. However, when necessary, users easily submit support requests through the Atlas Training Application, which puts them in touch with knowledgeable Microsoft support engineers.
Users find the system easy to navigate, the videos highly informative, and are able to complete the trainings on their own time, when it’s convenient, rather than having to accommodate the set times of in-person trainings.
The system also makes it easier for advertisers to use the Microsoft Advertising platform to its full advantage. With the ability to track training progress and effectiveness, managers can ensure that staff members who are running and managing advertising campaigns are well trained and are using their knowledge effectively to ensure the highest advertising returns.
Please see our other Microsoft Advertising case study, Microsoft Atlas Training Videos that tells the story of how we developed an automated video-production solution. It allowed us to create training videos in an accelerated timeframe with cost savings of approximately 88 percent.