Xbox Live is close to launching a new ad unit that will give viewers a chance to interact with brands by either using their voice or hand gestures.
Advertisers will be able to ask viewers to answer multiple-choice questions by speaking “yes” or “no way” out loud, or by gesturing. The results will appear in real time on the screen, so subscribers can see how others are voting.
Perhaps the novelty of the experience will get users to watch the ads instead of trying to find a way to fast-forward through them.
Microsoft said the first brands to sign up for the program are Toyota, Samsung Mobile USA and Unilever, and that the commercials will start appearing this fall. The ads, officially dubbed “NUads,” will appear on both the Xbox Live dashboard and within select TV apps, but not inside of games.
All of this is possible because of Kinect, the voice-and-gesture-based technology that lets users control their game consoles without a remote control.
Ross Honey, the general manager of Xbox Live Entertainment and Advertising, said advertising revenue on the platform has grown by 140 percent year over year, and while the audience is not as big as other platforms, it is a segment of the population that advertisers find hard to reach.
“It’s increasingly challenging to reach these people, because they are spending so much time on our platform,” Honey said, adding that Xbox Live reaches roughly 40 million users. In particular, he said, gold subscribers spend about 84 hours a month — or three hours a day on average.
“Advertisers see that time and they know they need to connect with users there, because they aren’t anywhere else,” he added.
Microsoft said Toyota’s ad will feature the 30-second spot that premiered during the Super Bowl. In this version, viewers will be asked what they would like to see “reinvented” about the Camry. In another spot for Axe deodorant, users will get to vote on whether girls should be able to use it, too.