Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Xbox Kinect Will Put Ads in Video Games and TV Content

Advertising is coming to Microsoft's Xbox Kinect, and a NUAds suite of tools will let users interact with the ads on an Xbox console. The ads on Xbox Kinect will give agencies an opportunity to create new kinds of ads. Rival Nintendo's new Wii U also could display Kinect-style ads on its 6.2-inch tablet-like screen, though no plans have been announced.

Microsoft announced a new option for advertisers at the Cannes International Advertising Festival this week. The Xbox Kinect gaming console is going to use voice and motion commands to let consumers interact with ads while they are playing their favorite video Relevant Products/Services game or watching online content.

Dubbed NUAds, short for natural-interface ads, the new suite of advertising tools will let users interact with advertising right from their Xbox Kinect video-game console dashboard Relevant Products/Services. Users can also interact with ads embedded in games or other video content. It's a move to take advertising a few steps beyond the old-fashioned boob tube.

"When you have highly interactive people and a passive medium, they are interacting with their phone or their laptop Relevant Products/Services while watching TV," Mark Kroese, the general manager of the advertising business Relevant Products/Services group at Microsoft, told The New York Times. Kroese introduced the ability to use voice- and gesture-controlled interaction with advertisements and other content on Xbox. He said the ads "create a natural way for the user to engage with the TV."

In-Game Ad Action

What does all this mean to Xbox Kinect gamers? It means that soon, they'll be able to say "Xbox tweet" and have the content shared online with your friends.

Here's another example. Say you're watching a TV show. You'll be able to interact using your voice to do things like schedule a reminder to be sent to your phone of shows that you don't want to miss this summer.

NUAds also offers some interesting location-based interaction services for advertisers. For example, if you say "Xbox Near Me" when watching an advertisement for cars, Xbox Kinect will serve Relevant Products/Services up a map with local dealerships. In another example, Microsoft's Steve Clayton asks you to imagine an ad for pizzas or a movie ad that takes you to cinemas that show the film locally.

"This represents a great opportunity for agencies and advertisers to generate new kinds of ads and ad creative. They have to rise to the challenge, however," said Greg Sterling, principal analyst at Sterling Market Intelligence. "It will take some time for them to figure out how to effectively leverage what is a completely new ad platform. It's really all about whether they can truly take advantage of the capabilities of the Xbox platform."

Will Wii Compete?

Kinect for Xbox 360 lets players use their body and voice to control games and entertainment. Essentially, the body becomes the controller. The high-tech sensors learn how players move, how they play, hears their voice, and makes them one with the game.

The all-in-one Xbox 360 4GB Console with Kinect includes the new Xbox 360 4GB console, a Kinect sensor, and Kinect Adventures for $299.99. Consumers who already have an Xbox 360 console can buy the stand-alone Kinect for $149.99. That includes the Kinect sensor and Kinect Adventures.

Wii hopes to compete with the Kinect with the Wii U, whose controller with a 6.2-inch screen promises to drive new gaming experiences and the ability to customize entertainment. Nintendo hasn't announced any plans for in-game advertising with its new system.

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