Microsoft Advertising and Online team recently held an industry launch event presenting the Xbox advertising platform and in particular the Xbox One. Florian Bouchaud, Solutions Sales Executive Ad Sales for Xbox introduced the recently launched Xbox One, gave an overview of Irish research on the Xbox audience and showcased the advertising opportunities available across both Xbox ONE and Xbox 360.

The event theme was 'XBOX cooking' and the focus was on presenting 'recipe ideas' for Xbox advertising with a heavy emphasis on 'campaigns we made earlier' as well as a look at the mechanics of the platform itself.

Microsoft see the Xbox as part of a devices and services ecosystem that includes Skype, Outlook, MSN and Bing. They present this ecosystem as a platform for multi-stream campaigns and are focused on research findings and insights that underpin the 'empathic technology' inherent in Xbox.

Key research findings include the insight that consumers expect brands to be 'intelligently on', targeting them at a time and place convenient to them and not interrupting when not expected or anticipated. Additionally, there's a growing consumer understanding of the 'creator culture' and a recognition of the value of personal data and a willingness to part with it, but not for free.

Interestingly, in an Irish context, Xbox penetration is one of the highest in the world, on a par with the US market in terms of per capita users and one of the highest monthly engagement figures globally.

Forza Motorsport

The Xbox platform provides essentially three distinct formats, all triggered from static or animated display ads. Restricted to Games, Video or Music channels on the device, the principal formats are:

  •  Click to web
  •  Full Screen Video
  •  Custom content

One of the key discussion points in the Q&A session following the presentations was the need for consideration of the 10' screen when designing web content. We've all become used to responsive design that allows online content to be displayed well on mobile, tablet and desktop screens.

Xbox Tv Home

Microsoft urge us to consider a further context; the living room experience. With the aim of moving the games console out of the bedroom and into prime position as 'input 1' on the family TV, it follows that more online content will be consumed from the sofa. Undeniably, experiences like the Xbox YouTube app are superior in many ways when compared to traditional desktop access.

In a recommendation echoing those relating to mobile web access, it seems clear that any brands hoping to target Xbox users would be wise to ensure their web content is tailored for this display format.

Microsoft claim measurable brand lift for campaigns on the platform and point to a number of case studies illustrating this. A further insight is that Xbox users are multitaskers and do more than just play games. This has led to a plethora of predictable campaigns for Pizza and Beer (the later targeted at over 18s only). However, some other brands are innovative in their use.

Nike Fit Game

For example, Nike regularly promote footwear on the platform and provide free digital accessories for user avatars, football boots in this case. This is a very popular technique with users who usually need to pay for such character enhancements.

It remains to be seen whether the 'input 1' goal will be achieved. Certainly we'll need to wait until the full platform promise is fulfilled. For example, a key feature of Xbox One is TV integration but we don't have that fully implemented in Ireland yet. Nor do we have full voice controlled web search capabilities.

However, such features will doubtless arrive. When they do, we'll still need to see if consumers get over the concern of having an 'always on' device in the living room with a camera and the ability to recognise user engagement levels and mood.

Microsoft are quick to point out that Xbox One has privacy settings that allow owners switch off such features. It will come down to trust and how much personal data consumers really are willing to give away, and at what price.

(Images courtesy of Xbox.com and Nike.com)

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