Microsoft plans to bring IAB specifications for rich media technologies, including Silverlight, to Xbox Live within the year. It will enable companies to build advertising campaigns that span four screens: desktop, television, mobile phone, and Surface. Microsoft's Surface debuted last year when AT&T and Sheraton released promotions based on the technology.
The vision is for agencies to spend less time repurposing creative pieces for multiple platforms, so campaigns can cut across all screens, Alexander says. "We are just starting to scratch the surface of what's possible," he says. "As a marketer, your job is to build an emotional connection with the brand, no matter the platform."
Silverlight-powered media on Xbox will have the same appearance as ads seen on a Web browser. Think technology that competes with Flash, only supported by 6 million Silverlight developers worldwide who now have the option to tap a variety of Microsoft tools and technologies and develop marketing campaigns for Xbox.
A proof of concept built by the agency Vectorform used content from a J.K. Rowling Harry Potter movie to demonstrate an application at the Cannes Lions International Advertising Festival 2009. The prototype relied on .Net and Silverlight to run across the four screens.
Silverlight helps pop campaigns to bring advertising concepts to life in video ads, rich media, microsites and animation.
Today, movie trailers are available in a high-definition (HD) format, but Silverlight will deliver 1080p HD and 5.1 surround sound without discs directly into the Xbox, Alexander says. "You can use that same creative asset on Web sites," he says. "It also makes it easy to integrate with other applications, such as online movie ticketing. For studios, it's all about selling tickets."
Agencies can now focus on creative expression rather than the underpinnings of technology, Alexander says. The biggest challenge is to develop the tools and "jump start resources," using Silverlight and other rich media platforms to make the best of them when building campaigns for the Xbox.