Brandon Grosvenor made his plans to depart his role as the senior vice president of sales at Postmedia Network Inc. known Feb. 24 and departed the media company at the end of March for Microsoft Canada.
Now the vice-president of advertising for Microsoft Canada, Grosvenor brings his more than 20 years of media experience to the firm that many know as a software company. But beyond Windows and Office, Microsoft is actually a large media brand in Canada due to its highly visible digital channels that include MSN.ca – the home page for many Canadians – and of course its Xbox Live network connected to Xbox 360 and Xbox One videogame consoles. Microsoft Advertising describes its reach as one that can deliver customized ad experiences to connected televisions, computers, and other devices that access the web.
Grosvenor spent three years at Postmedia and had worked at other major media brands before that. He led advertising sales in both print and digital assets, reaching millions of Canadians each week. In his new role at Microsoft he’ll be reporting to Carlos de Torres, general manager of Microsoft Advertising. We had the chance to speak with Grosvenor about his career move, here’s an edited transcript of our conversation:
Brian Jackson: How will your experience at Postmedia inform your work in your new role at Microsoft?
Brandon Grosvenor: I was overseeing all media sales for Postmedia, it was an extremely large team with a ton of integration. Postmedia was moving from being a print organization to a multimedia organization where digital was leading the growth. It was a very forward-thinking and progressive role and the terrific experience I gained from Postmedia and the publishing world in general is realizing content is at the forefront of every major marketer’s plans. It’s very exciting to be able to take that experience and relate it to the Microsoft suite of products.
BJ: How do you expect your new role will be different?
BG: It will be different because my previous role had an operational perspective overseeing the P&L for the sales organization. This role is about the day-to-day performance for the group and a more hands-on role to mould the sales team. We’re at an interesting crossroad from a product perspective. The rhythm is changing where a significant amount of the business is becoming programmatic. I see the role as less about product development, and more about using my deep understanding of the content world to help form partnerships and revenue streams to drive opportunities. It’s about forging the value equation and getting value out of the platforms that Microsoft has that will be key. One of the challenges of the rapid growth of digital media is that we typically take our products and opportunities that we own and we accurately understand the value of those products, but we haven’t done a great job of communicating why these are the services our audiences want to buy.
BJ: Tell me about the channels Microsoft has to offer from your perspective. Which ones are the most exciting for marketers right now?
BG: The Windows 8 platform needs its eco-system built out. It allows for apps to be built and that can be a significant part of any media plan. The bigger audience has moved to digital and MSN is a huge portal for Microsoft. It used to be newspapers were the last mass medium and now you’re seeing that displaced by digital. The other perspective from a journalistic point of view is the ability to update and change formats and deliver content in different ways and understand how the audience is interacting with you. It’s a much more responsible model. In the advertising world, branded content and understanding brand sentiment is interesting. Those who like change and what to be a part of a more responsive media will be at the front of it.
BJ: You mentioned programmatic buying, what channels do you think will be sold in that way?
BG: I’m currently investigating programmatic buying and inventory is pushed into the real time bidding space on MSN. But we won’t allowed targeted inventory into these channels. In my humble opinion, everyone is still trying to figure out what should be bought programmatically and what shouldn’t. We have to be very careful because we have very valuable and highly-targeted inventory that has to be used in a responsible way. It’s a solutions base versus a commodity base.
BJ: What’s the one message you’d like to get across to marketers?
BG: We offer brands that really connect with consumers. We can offer highly customizable programs that will meet their specific needs. We reach a significant amount of Canadians on a daily basis and we create extremely meaningful programs. As an industry, we have to get better at measuring brand sentiment and the ROI. We want to partner with agencies and advertisers to provide that value.