Microsoft introduced a new ad format for Outlook.com today, called versaTiles. It's currently being sold in the U.S. and Brazil, but will also soon launch in Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Netherlands, Spain and the U.K.
The format consists of flexible-sized tile strips, which Microsoft says gives advertisers a "valuable surface area" to deliver relevant content in scenarios where people expect commercial content. Here's a look:
There are three customizable templates that advertisers can use: Online Retailer, Media Showcase and Catalogue.
Online Retailer, Microsoft says, "Allows the advertiser to capture consumers’ attention, and showcase a product or a service, and then connect the consumer to the advertiser’s online distributors. From a consumer standpoint, this template enables them to locate brick and mortar retail outlets in their area, alongside viewing and discovering product or service details within the tile experience."
The company adds that Media Showcase "Gives a unique ad experience to get a brand’s message conveyed by using a combination of video, image galleries and text. The template is applicable to multiple verticals aiming at building awareness and consumer engagement."
Catalogues simply lets you feature multiple products. The first tile shows the theme, and the others show different products.
In addition to three templates, the versaTiles format also consists of three states: Default, Hover and Click. The default state is what consumers see when they log in to Outlook.com, the hover state shows more in-depth info and/or additional images and info when they hover over the ad, and the click state has the ad expand when clicked, showing different creative elements or brand messaging (which varies by template).