Xbox One was designed with advertising in mind, members of the Xbox Live advertising team have confirmed.
Speaking with StickTwiddlers, a number of Microsoft staffers in the Xbox Live advertising division have shed light on the lessons learned through Xbox 360 adverts, and how this will be applied in Xbox One. It also places Kinect as a key part of the strategy.
Confirming that Kinect will use voice and facial recognition to tailor adverts on your console, one unnamed technical account manager said, "With the new Xbox One, the technology and Kinect has improved a lot, so that actually the voice recognition, the way you speak to your Xbox and the transition between gaming and watching TV is a lot smoother, and hopefully we can transpire [sic] that into advertising that we do."
The strategy goes hand-in-hand with Microsoft's 'Nuads' campaign, which resulted in adverts that housed interactive polls, as a way of making users feel like they were participating in adverts, rather than absorbing them passively.
The Microsoft employee added that Nuads, "transform passive TV advertising into something interactive, immersive, and actionable, redefining the relationship between consumers and brands with amazing new advertising opportunities".
While this might all sound intrusive and that Kinect is spying on users to sell them products, one of the Microsoft employees stressed that the company does not want the technology and its customers to be abused. However, the volume of data captured by Microsoft and advertisers via Kinect is said to be significantly lower than the information recorded by game developers.
"This sort of works at two levels," the Microsoft employee added. "There’s the game producers who have a different API, so a different set of code and system that they use, and they’ve got a lot more control of the whole thing, whereas from the advertising point of view we have a slightly more limited set, which is designed to protect the user. The company is very keen on protecting the user from any sort of abuse so we can’t do certain things.”
Because Microsoft is wanting to move Xbox One into the living room of families using Kinect, the device can - for example - recognise when there are many people in a room, and target adverts to families and people of varying ages.
Microsoft's Senior Digital Art Director/UX Designer explained, "Xbox is moving more outside of the bedroom. We’re seeing much, much more people use it in living rooms where there is family, friends, there is lots going on, so there is a context of perceiving the content.
"It’s not like when you’re at work when you sit in front of a screen and your experience is very personal. But with Xbox, it’s lots of people in front of once big screen. They are playing or watching together and advertising is being consumed in a totally different way.”
They added, "On Xbox, the ad is part of the actual experience, it’s not something that is outside. The only difference is that the advertisement we have is quite small and not disruptive so people are not aware of clicking on the banners because they know this is a part of the whole experience on the dash.
“So the users know that this is something that when they click on it, they won’t be hit by something crazy or something dangerous like on the web. Everything that lands there, we create.”
One source called the development of adverts for Xbox One "exciting", because, "the 360 console wasn't built with advertising in mind, it was more of an afterthought, so we've had to adapt to the technology and how we work to fit them in to the console, whereas this new one is going to have advertising in mind.
"So a lot of the limitations that we have now, hopefully the release of the boundaries will widened so the opportunities will be a lot greater."
What do you make of Microsoft's attempts to target adverts to players using Kinect? Let us know below.