Xbox’s chief marketing and strategy officer this weekend told an audience of advertisers that the console could change the way they engage with consumers.
AdvertisingAge reports that Xbox’s chief marketing and strategy officer Yusuf Mehdi told to the Association of National Advertisers Masters of Marketing Conference that the Xbox One launch “could make or break one of Microsoft's most successful brands”.
Part of that, he argues, is how attractive a platform the new console becomes to advertisers. Its potential was sold to the event as “furthering the ‘gamification’ movement in advertising, and consolidating more attention now diffused among multiple devices for gaming, TV and web browsing onto the big screen”.
The site then added that “Xbox One can essentially work like [a] TV that watches you, bringing marketers a huge new trove of data about what's going on in living rooms, including, as one marketer put it after the speech, unprecedented information about how people engage with TV advertising”.
One exec who asked not to be attributed explained that “Xbox One's capacity for seeing whether people are paying attention or how their bodies respond to the ads could have a big impact on pricing” for advertising clients.
AdvertisingAge continued: “The new generation of Kinect technology in Xbox One can distinguish up to six voices in a room, respond to voice commands, read skeletal movement, muscle force, whether people are looking at or away from the TV and even their heart rates.
“Given that Xbox 360 has sold more than 78m units, if even a fraction of likely Xbox One users could be persuaded to share data, the technology could create the world's largest panel for measuring biometric responses to advertising.”
UPDATE: Microsoft's director of product planning has taken to NeoGaf to respond to the wave of hostility that greeted AdvertsingAge's report.
“NuAds by definition is simply interactive advertising done on the platform. Using the functions of the console and Kinect to interact vs. just watching a spot. There's nothing particularly interesting happening here unless you're in the advertising business, and we've done a few on Xbox 360 today.
“What I think you're asking about is an interview done earlier in the year where someone was talking about how some of the new Xbox One Kinect features *could* be used in advertising - since we can see expressions, engagement, etc. and how that might be used to target advertising. This is the point that seems to draw some controversy.
“First - nobody is working on that. We have a lot more interesting and pressing things to dedicate time towards. It was an interview done speculatively, and I'm not aware of any active work in this space.
“Second - if something like that ever happened, you can be sure it wouldn't happen without the user having control over it. Period.
“Two examples of how we deal with similar things today:
“First, Kinect can recognize your face and log you in automatically. There could be some cool features we could enable if we stored that data in the cloud, like being able to be auto-recognized at a friend's. I get asked for that feature a lot. But, for privacy reasons, your facial data doesn't leave the console.
“Second: You'll see us do some things around Skype that freezes the video when Skype is not in focus (meaning, it's not the primary app). If you go back to the home screen, or launch another app, we actually stop the video stream. We do this so the user can't even ACCIDENTALLY have the video stream going on in the background.
“I'll say this – we take a lot of heat around stuff we've done and I can roll with it. Some of it is deserved. But preventing Kinect from being used inappropriately is something the team takes very seriously.
“Hope that helps.”