Introducing Silverlight

The IAA this week hosted Ramon Bosch Smit from Microsoft at one of the Association’s regular networking evenings. Smit holds the title of development evangelist, drawing IAA UAE chapter president Lance de Masi to say, “I must, as an American, confess that is not something I would vote for,” in his introduction.

Smit did just what his title promised, as he ran through some of the features of his company’s Silverlight software, and the opportunities it provides advertisers.

[See Ramon Bosch Smit’s Powerpoint presentation here.]

“Silverlight is at the crossroads of what you do as an industry and what we do as a software company,” he explained. “Silverlight is a technology (some like to call it a platform, others – more simplistically – a browser plug-in).”

He then showed some examples of what Silverlight can do. The US Library of Congress (www.myloc.gov) uses it to allow browsers to look around artefacts in a 3D environment, he explained. And car maker Seat put an interactive brochure online to launch its Exeo model in the UK; 19 percent of visitors to the site converted by ordering a print brochure or booking a test drive.

Tissue manufacturer Kleenex in the US used Silverlight to generate revenue by allowing visitors to its site to order a personalized tissue holder illustrated with bespoke photos and text.

Silverlight, Smit explained, allows developers to make sites and applications that work across three screens – televisions, computers and mobiles. “Whenever one of your customers comes up to you with an idea and he wants to bring it to reality, don’t just focus on the browser, don’t just focus on the mobile phone,” he said. “Add the TV to that and then choose a technology that will allow you to provide that content or that experience to all devices with the least amount of effort.” US video rental firm Netflix has done this.

While Smit was undoubtedly keen to drum up interest in Microsoft’s Silverlight, he wasn’t necessarily selling all their other products. Silverlight is “browser-agnostic,” he explained, meaning that it can work on an estimated 60 percent to 70 percent of the world’s computers. Even Macs and Linux systems.

Advertisers can hook their product in to videos through Silverlight, said Smit. “You put hooks in that you can hook into to get information and to see what your users are doing with your content, what they are playing with,” he said. He used the example of a mini-series produced by New York magazine for Fashion Week. Advertisers were able to place ads within the content. Clothing brands seized this opportunity.

No matter how handy the technology, for advertising to make sense on the Internet it needs to produce meaningful numbers. “Analytics is where you can really monetize your content,” said Smit. “That’s where the business is, that’s where the money is. If you cannot see what your users are doing with your content, you might as well not put content on there.” Silverlight therefore allows users to connect their content to analytics engines such as Google Analytics and Comscore.

Smit ended his talk with a call to get in touch. (His e-mail address is .) If you do, he might convert you.

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