Microsoft will begin rolling out 30-second ads in television content appearing on Xbox Live in December. The targeted, dynamic ads will serve up in the programming from any of the recently announced 40 content partners, such as AT&T, BBC, Comcast, HBO, Rogers, and Verizon.
Whether the ads appear as pre-, mid- or post-roll advertisements will depend on the type of TV programming, such as short or long form. Microsoft's ad platform will optimize the advertising payload and delivery, according to Mark Kroese, general manager of Microsoft's Advertising Business Group in the entertainment and devices division.
"The content from the today's show would generally also run on television," he said. "These shows are not specially made for the Xbox."
Xbox Live is like a "global TV network" where users must sign in to use the platform. The sign-in password and user's game name ties into a profile. The Windows Live ID associated with the Xbox Live player's game name allows Microsoft's platform to target specific ads to players or households.
Targeted ads served across content on the console break down into age, gender, part of day, and more through the same engine that powers MSN and other display properties.
The ads precede the NUAds, which comes from "natural user ads," format, voice- and gesture-enabled ads made possible through Kinect, expected to launch in spring 2012. The NUAds will change the "garden-variety 30-second spots into interactive TV ad spots, Kroese said. Not all ads will make the transition, only at the advertisers' request.
The NUAds will let Xbox Live users interact with the ads. Consumers watching content will see a commercial break, perhaps a 30-second ad dropped into the stream. About 10-seconds into the ad an overlay, an ad for Coke, appears on the bottom of the screen. The overlay might read: "Say Xbox, Tweet." Another screen would appear with possible Twitter tweet options for those wanting to share this ad with friends.
Studies show those watching television programming multitask on other screens, such as mobile phones, tablets and laptops. A Harris Interactive poll with Adweek shows that about 40% of consumers watching television interact with social networking and 37% text on a mobile phone.
Using the Microsoft Kinect sensor for Xbox 360, consumers can interact with the television and advertisers with voice and gestures. "It's the last barrier in interactive television," Kroese said.
NUAds takes the ad and brings it out to the user's social network, such as Twitter and Facebook. "Tell me more," becomes another option for advertisers to provide more information about a service, product, or offering through the verbal command.
The information sent to the person's email address. The Local 30 package provides information about local businesses that offer the product in the advertisement.