News Corp. content from Fox Television, Fox News, Twentieth Century Fox Films and The Wall Street Journal will be available on the Xbox device starting in February, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer announced at the opening of CES 1/9. He also announced Xbox partnerships with Comcast — bringing its Xfinity video streaming to the device. After these unveilings last week in Las Vegas, Dean Carignan, senior business director for Xbox Live Advertising for Microsoft EMEA, managing strategy, research and product development, wrote in a blog 1/17 how the company has evolved from integrating brands into games to full-fledged video ads, display offerings and more—now that more traditional TV content is in the mix or coming.
When you hear Xbox, most people think gaming, he says: From a marketer’s perspective, that means reaching the 18-to-34 year-old male. This idea that Xbox is only for gamers is a common misconception, even among savvy marketers, but many are starting to realize Xbox LIVE is not just for gamers.
Last month, Microsoft announced the launch of an all-new Xbox 360 experience, introducing the next generation of television entertainment including the first group of new TV and entertainment content from partners like LoveFilm & Sky Go, 4 on Demand, blinkbox, Crackle, Dailymotion, Demand 5, MSN, Muzu.tv, VEVO, YouTube and, in early 2012, the BBC. For advertisers, this means a lot more traditional TV content coming to the service and a lot more mainstream eyeballs to follow.
How Xbox LIVE engages all those new eyeballs is key. With more than 40 million active subscribers worldwide, the platform, has already developed a sizeable reach on the largest screen in the home – the TV. And unlike traditional TV, the Xbox LIVE audience is highly engaged. We’ve all observed the phenomenon we call ‘audience fragmentation’ – the multi-tasking you probably experience in your own life; surfing the web, emailing a friend or texting while you’re watching TV. In this high-stakes battle for people’s attention, Xbox LIVE is winning – subscribers each spend almost 60 hours per month on the service, cumulatively logging 2.1 billion monthly hours.
So how do advertisers reach this highly engaged audience? Another common misconception about Xbox LIVE is that advertising on the service is all in-game, meaning – it’s branding that’s woven into the gaming experience to help make those games more realistic. While in-game advertising is part of the overall ad offering, the Xbox LIVE infrastructure supports a variety of promotional and sponsorship programs that blend with the overall experience including:
Video and display ads on the Xbox LIVE dashboard or home screen
Branded destination experiences (sites dedicated exclusively to your brand)
Sponsorship opportunities (play and wins, free content sponsorships, downloads and other giveaways)
Now, with the launch of our new Xbox 360 experience, we’re offering advertisers two new opportunities in the form of standard 30-second spots within traditional TV content on Xbox LIVE, and Kinect-enabled branded destination experiences.
VivaKi is the first agency in the UK to jump in on one of these opportunities. It has purchased all the standard 30-second spot inventory in the market through March 2012 and will offer it exclusively to its clients, which will bring some big names to the platform, including EMI, Samsung, Emirates, Honda, E1 and O2. This shows the general excitement we’ve seen for advertising within traditional TV content on Xbox LIVE. The new offering makes Xbox LIVE the largest next generation TV platform to offer standard 30-second spots to advertisers.
The second, and perhaps most innovative opportunity, is for Kinect-enabled branded destination experiences. Since the launch of Kinect, a little over a year ago, the industry has been asking us what this means for advertisers? We saw the creative possibilities early on but needed to develop formats to help advertisers take advantage of those possibilities. With the launch of the new Xbox 360 experience, we now have more than 100 Kinect-enabled branded destination experiences where audiences can interact with advertising using the simple wave of a hand. This makes Xbox LIVE the only place on TV where you can use a natural user interface like gesture to engage with audiences.
To give a current example, Garnier Fructis is running a campaign on Xbox LIVE that makes interesting use of Kinect-enhanced capabilities. Targeting female Xbox LIVE subscribers, it uses Kinect gesture controls to give audiences the opportunity to sign up for a free sample of Garnier Fructis Pure Clean Shampoo and Conditioner and the opportunity to win a year’s worth of Garnier Fructis Pure Clean and an Xbox LIVE Gold Membership. To help create buzz for the promotion Garnier Fructis aligned with the launch of Xbox hit game, Dance Central 2, one of our most popular Kinect games for women.
What makes advertising on Xbox LIVE most compelling is that in many cases brands can use their existing creative, making Xbox LIVE an easy extension of their overall media plan and getting into the game of interactive TV advertising a low risk proposition. For years, marketers have been experimenting with the interactive TV ad medium but without much success. Interactive TV ad campaigns were expensive to create and the audience was considered niche. Now, with Xbox LIVE, interactive TV advertising can easily become a standard part of the media mix, helping brands reach a broad and mainstream audience.
We believe Xbox LIVE is poised to play a significant role in TV advertising in the future. No other network in the world can give advertisers and consumers these types of branded experiences, and we plan to bring even more groundbreaking interactive TV advertising solutions in 2012 and beyond.
RBR-TVBR observation: It’s still a big goal for media agencies to be able to judge ads’ effectiveness across different video media through the same lens. Technology has now allowed much of the same content to be viewed with clarity and stability across just about everything–gaming consoles, smartphones, tablets, laptops and yes, traditional broadcast and cable TV. One way to judge the effectiveness is to come up with one-stop shop measurement. It’s currently a mission for many—including the IAB and Nielsen.