Microsoft wants targeted political ads on Xbox Live dashboard, courting conservatives

Microsoft officials were handing out promotional materials for political ads on Xbox Live at the Conservative Political Action Conference, will use players’ data to target ads at different demographics.

Microsoft wants politicians to pay for targeted ads that will appear on the Xbox Live dashboard and other Microsoft products.

The Washington Post reports that Microsoft officials were handing out promotional materials for this purpose this Thursday at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC), an annual conference for conservative activists and elected official in the United States.

The ads would appear on the Xbox Live dashboard and target different users by combining their Microsoft user IDs and other public data to build a profile of Xbox users. Using this data, ad campaigns can then be directed at specific demographics or congressional districts.

According to The Washington Post, Microsoft says that 38 percent of its 25 million Xbox Live subscribers in the US are women, 40 percent are married, and more than half have children. Microsoft is apparently “particularly aggressive” in selling its ability to reach women, Latinos, and millennials.

Xbox Live and games in general are no strangers to politics. During the 2012 presidential elections, Xbox Live launched a nonpartisan Election Hub in collaboration with Rock the Vote, NBCnews.com, and YouGov. During his 2008 presidential campaign, Barack Obama also took out ads within Burnout Paradise.

Emanuel Maiberg is a freelance writer. You can follow him on Twitter @emanuelmaiberg and Google+.
Got a news tip or want to contact us directly? Email news@gamespot.com

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Discussion

1418 comments
mattna7071
mattna7071

If I were running I'd advertise my opposition through Xbox. No that is not a quip at Xbox itself but rather on how resented the Microsoft and Xbox brands are currently.

Clovergirl227
Clovergirl227

So a basic service that costs $500 for the 8 year life-span of the console also smacks users with advertisements- political ones at that. I’m glad PC gamers don’t have to put up with corporate nonsense like this in addition to political indoctrination, but I can’t help but feel even sorrier for you console users than I normally do. Unfortunately it will only get worse because you are what’s’ known as a captive audience.

sidzero
sidzero

I bet this is going to go over about as well as all those other ridiculous ideas Microsoft was trying to sell us on when they originally announced the XB1. People are going to demand they not do this (because lets face it, NO ONE wants political propaganda on their game console... otherwise they'd be watching Fox News or some shit like that), and at the last minute, they're going to backpedal on the entire idea.


At least I hope that's what's going to happen, because political propaganda on the XBox is going to drive business away for Microsoft, since it's SUCH a bad idea.

Zloth2
Zloth2

<ahem> "...and other Microsoft products?"  Like... Windows?  Bing?  What?

Scourgejoe
Scourgejoe

I hereby vow, and encourage others to do likewise, to vote for whoever is running against any candidate or political party that puts up political ads on Xbox Live.  If both parties take out Xbox ads, then maybe I'll vote for one of those nutty Libertarian candidates; that way, they might actually get a full 3% of the vote instead of the usual 2.75%...

Bugermeister
Bugermeister

I don't care whether the ads are in line with my political view or not, I NEVER EVER EVER EVER want to see a political ad while I am trying to enjoy a game! Games are about having *fun* and *escaping* reality, neither of which is compatible with politics. But maybe I'm forgetting that XB1 is not so much about games as it is about general media. Anyway, it's just another reason for me to not buy an XB1 if they go through with this.

limbo12
limbo12

Finally, a confirmation of the what I've always suspected: Fascism = Xbox.

Hurvl
Hurvl

Unless it's a politically themed game set today, I don't want any politics in my games. It's already bad enough as it is with ads in games, we don't need to go one step further simply because the wonder of online gaming and stat tracking makes it possible.

grenadehh
grenadehh

I'd like to point out there is literally a setting on XB1 to control whether or not MS sends your data to anyone. Not that it means anything.

grenadehh
grenadehh

I don't understand this article. What ads? Where? On Bone or 360? I've literally never seen an ad on XB1. The one's I've seen on XB360 are minimal - there is one ad per section of the dasbhoard and it's almost always gaming or media related.

Carpetfluff
Carpetfluff

Relevant ads are annoying but understandable, but this just seems like a step too far. Not everything should be allowed to bleed into everything else. A box people use to escape the reality of life, even for a few hours, shouldn't be reminding you it's all still out there. Hey, let's encourage you to vote for those guys who think video games are evil and turning you into kid killers while we're at it - that's a nice double standard right there.

DeFiLeDTitan
DeFiLeDTitan

I kind of thought the in game ads were interesting in saints row 2. I lol'd when I was driving around and noticed a bill board advertising a real movie. I even turned around to look at it because I thought I might be crazy

isshiah
isshiah

Hahaha.


Oh, wait, you're serious? Hahahahaha!  


I sincerely hope they don't decide to do this were I live. The 'play game' tab is getting smaller every damn UI update. It'll be barely visible if they add a 'vote for some rich psychopath' advert.

wallacom
wallacom

Ohh so that's why everyone are saying kinect will remind you to vote LOOOOL

enoslives7
enoslives7

As is there are not enough reasons to hate Microshit?!

maxpowr3
maxpowr3

Just wait till loading screens get turned into ad space. You die, watch a 30sec commercial for Activia. 

uchihasilver
uchihasilver

well trading in my Xbox one tomorrow ¬.¬ i am honestly not okay with this, i pay my yearly subscription to Xbox live and you start pulling crap like this i am not interested in your money making schemes, i play games so i can relax and don't have to look at politics bullshit. 

zeek_fox
zeek_fox

Do politicians not realize that the people who play Xbox consoles a lot don't really bother hitting the polls?  In general, they barely come out to presidential elections, much less for everything else.


I don't think conservatives even really want to send the 18-25 crowd to the polls anyway.  Younger generations are becoming more and more for things like equality, so every time a figurehead in the republican party stumbles over issues of discrimination...it just pisses the possible voters off and makes them vote the other way.

cratecruncher
cratecruncher

You're more likely to see a Taco Bell commercial than some scary conservative political message.  That kind of stuff only works on old people in the sticks.  Demographers know where to spread the money.

Devils-DIVISION
Devils-DIVISION

Oh! I wonder what this "other public data" is?

Someone who uses my information to match up with M$ affiliated/unaffiliated sources, sell it, or run it through a database that helps analyse and gather as much info as possible; then sell that information to a third party group the database determines as prosperous, undoubtedly has envisioned a more sinister all in one media device, than anyone realised.

I said to myself I'd buy an Xbone after some time. Now I'm set on never buying another M$ product again! I care way too much for my private information.

orbit991
orbit991

Good luck with targeting ads to those those 38% of women, who really are just the owners of the credit card little Johnie uses to pew pew.

Ibeik
Ibeik

I hate how nobody cares enough about the use of their private information.  They all just accept it because they get the shinies.  Worst part of a digital age.

GarGx1
GarGx1

I wonder when the terms and conditions will force you to watch x amount of adverts per day. Or even interrupt games to force feed you ads.


You do know that Sony are sitting looking at this announcement from MS and thinking "What a marvellous idea"

charlesswann
charlesswann

Reason 6,666,666 that Bill Gates is an American Villain.

demondogx
demondogx

Its what you get for buying an xbone
At the reveal and the months following up to release it was already known they wanted to use the kinect for target advertising

rickphoenixxx
rickphoenixxx

I think the gaming industry needs to get in bed with politicians, you know why? The NRA is and there is much more chance of a new violent shooting video game being banned than any of the actual high powered guns used in said game.
I want official game lobbyists on the Senate floor dammit!

Zloth2
Zloth2

@Scourgejoe Unless the Republicans field a Libertarian.  You may have to go Green on this one. ;)

Khasym
Khasym

@grenadehh From what I'm hearing, it would be on Xbox Live itself. So any device that connects to XBL, gets these ads. And that space where you see that one ad, would probably get another one next to it.

Khasym
Khasym

@isshiah And...isn't this a service you PAY for? That's just what I want my $60 for XBL, and the $150 I pay for cable a month to go to - political advertisements I spend enough time dodging on basic cable?

SphinxDemon
SphinxDemon

I say you trade it for a ps4 and or desktop computer :)

grenadehh
grenadehh

@zeek_fox  The 18 - 25 crowd doesn't exist for the "conservatives" i.e "Republicans" because the Republican party is a bunch of fake bullshit. Anyone in that age bracket who actually believes in "conservative" values is with the Green party or the Libertarian party or is an independent.


Anyone who does staunchly identify with the Republican party in that age bracket does so because they have no political identity and they learned it from their parents, so I'm sure they're interested in getting those drones to the voting booths. Someone has to vote for the next Gumby looking CG Romney moron they come up with.

DeFiLeDTitan
DeFiLeDTitan

@zeek_fox  be careful, you're acting as if people 25 and under are smart. They're not

nanorazor
nanorazor

@Ibeik I hate How fanboys defend this crap, If any other company did this I would still be against this. I would stop buying any product from that company instantly

nanorazor
nanorazor

@GarGx1 PlayStation network was always ad free, your comment is invalid

cmdrdredd
cmdrdredd

@rickphoenixxx  I don't think you are qualified to comment on this subject. In other words, you don't know what the hell you're talking about.


No games will be banned, it was already decided by the supreme court that video games are protected by the 1st amendment. The NRA is there(along with the second amendment foundation and gun owners of america) to help protect the second which if taken away will inevitably mean you lose the rest of your constitutional freedoms. Funny how you only point fingers at the NRA...shows how little you know.

Scourgejoe
Scourgejoe

@Zloth2 @Scourgejoe Is it too late to bring back Teddy Roosevelt's Bull Moose Party?

Of course, if TR was around these days, his Xbox ads would probably say something like, "put down that controller and go hiking in the woods!"

isshiah
isshiah

@Khasym @isshiah  if anything, they should give the Ads to silver account holders. Go gold, go go gadget remove advertising! 

uchihasilver
uchihasilver

@Shango4 @uchihasilver  yep i have strong morals when it comes this i put up with adverts on the Xbox for years now and have been incredibly annoyed by it, but now that they are taking it even further i'm not interested, this is a piss take like when i said we pay a yearly fee for the service it's simply unacceptable now.

BlackBaldwin
BlackBaldwin

@zeek_fox @DeFiLeDTitan

Says the guy who can't type a complete sentence.

Ibeik
Ibeik

@nanorazor Damn near all companies are involved in this.  If you aren't collecting information, you are buying it to advertise to your target demographic.


A person would have to live like an extremely self sufficient hermit to get away from all who are involved.

SphinxDemon
SphinxDemon

Would you like some ice with that burn

grenadehh
grenadehh

@uchihasilver @Shango4  No you haven't because there aren't any adverts. If that TINY ass ad annoys you, you need to go to a psychiatrist because there's something wrong with you.

nanorazor
nanorazor

@Ibeik @nanorazorWell if it open sourced and free I won't mind, and if it actually gives you content than just services that would be another thing. they need the word FREE before doing this crap.
 EDIT" I didn't actually refer to collecting information just the ads. I'm ok with collecting because it unavoidable but showing spam in a paid service not right.