Microsoft introduces interactive ads for Xbox LIVE

A new interactive ad format for the Xbox LIVE service has been announced by Microsoft, with Toyota, Unilever and Samsung Mobile USA revealed as the first brands in line to develop NUads campaigns that will appear on Xbox LIVE this autumn.

NUads are described as transforming standard 30-second TV spots into “engaging, actionable” experiences by using voice and gesture controls via the Kinect peripheral for the Xbox 360 games console.

For example, Toyota added a layer of interactivity to its “Reinvented” ad campaign for its 2012 Camry model. In the new ad, the viewer is asked what they would like to see reinvented, and can then respond through voice and gesture control, giving Toyota valuable feedback for its next campaign.

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The first NUads format to roll out offers polling capabilities that allow advertisers to ask a multiple-choice question during the airing of a 30-second spot. Consumers can enter the poll with a simple wave of a hand or a voice command while viewing the commercial.

Consumers get a real-time tally of the answers so they can see how other Xbox LIVE subscribers are voting, and advertisers get real-time feedback from consumers to help inform future campaigns.

In other Microsoft news, the company revealed earlier today that it will be making a “major” media-related announcement in Los Angeles next Monday (June 18th).

Editor’s view: This could prove to be the smartest move all year by Microsoft’s Xbox division: now that there is a huge worldwide installed base of Xboxes (67mn+) and Kinects (18mn+), the company is clearly focused on using the possibilities they create for revenue generation.

With more and more content and TV operator partners joining the Xbox platform, it has become a major media hub – indeed, Yusuf Mehdi, CMO for Microsoft’s Interactive Entertainment Business, was quoted last March as saying that media consumption now outweighs gaming for Xbox owners in the US (details here).

Thus the potential to turn these highly engaged viewers into advertising dollars must be tantalisingly close for Microsoft. The arrival of second screen app SmartGlass (announced at E3 last week) could also have a part to play in these ambitions.

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