Tuesday, February 27

Microsoft’s Super Bowl message: We’re an AI company now

Microsoft on Sunday is returning to the Super Bowl with a commercial for its AI-powered chatbot — a sign of the company’s determination to shed its image as a stodgy software maker and reorient its products around the promise of artificial intelligence.

The minute-long commercial, posted to YouTube on Thursday, depicts people using their mobile phones to access Copilot, the AI assistant Microsoft rolled out last year. The app is shown helping people to automate a variety of tasks, from generating snippets of computer code to creating digital art.

Microsoft’s Super Bowl spot, its first appearance in the game in four years, highlights the company’s efforts to reinvent itself as an AI-focused company. The tech giant has poured billions into developing its AI prowess, including investing $1 billion in OpenAI in 2019, and has integrated the technology into mainstay products like Microsoft Word, Excel and Azure.

Now, Microsoft wants consumers and businesses searching for a boost from AI-powered programs to turn to its services, rather than rivals such as Google, which on Thursday announced an upgrade to its competing AI program. 

For global tech companies, much is riding on who ultimately wins the AI race, Wedbush Securities Analyst Dan Ives told CBS MoneyWatch, with projections that the market could swell to $1.3 trillion by 2032. “This is no longer your grandfather’s Microsoft … and the Super Bowl is a unique time to further change perceptions,” he said.


Microsoft Game Day Commercial | Copilot: Your everyday AI companion by
Microsoft on
YouTube

Advertisers are paying about $7 million for 30 seconds of airtime in this year’s game, with an expected audience that could swell to more than 100 million viewers. 

Microsoft wants viewers to know that its Copilot app is getting an upgrade “coincident with the launch of our Super Bowl ad,” including a “cleaner, sleeker look” and suggested prompts that could help people tap its AI capabilities, wrote Microsoft Consumer Chief Marketing officer Yusuf Mehdi in a blog post this week. 

Microsoft’s strategy so far is paying dividends. Its cloud-based revenue surged 24% to $33.7 billion in its most recent quarter, helped by the integration of AI into its Azure cloud computing service, for example. And investors are buying in — the company’s market valuation of $3.1 trillion now ranks it ahead of Apple as the world’s most valuable company.

The Super Bowl has become the most-watched primetime telecast in recent years, as viewing audiences have become more fragmented with the rise of streaming platforms and social media. In 2023, the event attracted an audience of roughly 115 million viewers, or twice as many spectators as the second most-watched televised event that year, according to Variety’s primetime ranking. 


Behind the scenes of some upcoming Super Bowl ads

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According to Ives, that unmatched exposure could help Microsoft maintain its lead over several big tech companies in an increasingly intense face to dominate the AI market.  

“It was a poker move for the ages with Microsoft getting ahead in AI … now others are chasing them,” Ives said. Microsoft “is in a Ferrari in the left lane going 100 miles an hour, while other competitors are in a minivan going 30 miles an hour.”



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