Microsoft has been working to bring voice and gesture controls to ads on the Xbox through the Kinect game controller. The platform will allow users to share ads through social media, get more information about products, and communicate with others through voice commands.
The natural user interface platform, or NUads, supports the platform, which the company introduced at Cannes Lions 2011.
Now, a user can share a 30-second Coca-Cola ad running on Xbox with friends by giving the voice command "Xbox tweet." Voice commands could also provide more information on a nearby Toyota dealership or more information on Adidas running shoes just by voicing the command "Xbox near me" or "Xbox more," respectively. The information is sent to the user through email.
For the Toyota campaign, a Bing map appears on the Xbox screen to provide driving directions and location information. Advertisers can prompt users to say "Xbox schedule" during a commercial for a TV show to send a reminder to watch the program.
This is not the first time Microsoft tried to make a go of in-game advertising. The company shuttered Massive, its video game advertising subsidiary, in 2010. It's not clear whether Microsoft rolled offerings once supported by Massive into its Xbox division or advertising and publishing business unit, or the company simply shelved the technology in favor of innovation in Kinect.
Advertising now can monetize video games. Marketers have moved from a time when advertising was "window dressing in a game to supporting game content," according to eMarketer senior analyst Paul Verna. He said the shift from the older model supported by companies like Massive to social media and interaction through NUads will wake up the industry.
While Massive didn't work for Microsoft, NUads invites marketers to the party more often, Verna said. There's the potential for some "cool and engaging ads that you couldn't pull off on a platform less physically interactive," he said. "At the same time, there is a potential to miss -- not maximize -- the technology, and turn people off. I'm not a big fan of talking to machines."
While NUads provides "cool" and innovative features, challenges exist. Voice and gesture commands introduce potential failure. Sometimes, the technology supporting actions through gestures on Kinect is slow to respond, for example. Some have questioned potential privacy issues, based on what the Kinect camera picks up and records during each game play.
Google recently launched voice search on google.com, but the search engine still has a few glitches to work out. Searching on words with more than one spelling, such as "lori" or "laurie," also proves cumbersome.