The Xbox One and its dashboard user interface were built with advertising in mind, key members of Microsoft’s UK Xbox Live Advertising team have told website StickTwiddlers on a recent visit to the company’s headquarters.
A two-hour discussion with the senior digital art director/user experience designer and technical account manager for Xbox Live advertising revealed that all advertising created for the platform must work with both a standard Xbox controller and the console’s mandatory Kinect camera system.
“With the new Xbox One, the technology and Kinect has improved a lot,” said the technical account manager for Xbox Live Advertising, “so that actually, the voice recognition, the way you speak to your Xbox, and the transition between gaming and watching TV is a lot smoother, and hopefully we can transpire that into advertising that we do.
“Xbox is moving more outside of the bedroom. We’re seeing much, much more people use it in living rooms where there is family, friends, there is lots going on, so there is a context of perceiving the content,” the senior digital art director/use experience designer said. “It’s not like when you’re at work, when you sit in front of a screen and your experience is very personal. But with Xbox, it’s lots of people in front of one big screen. They are playing or watching together, and advertising is being consumed in a totally different way.”
Microsoft hopes that the inclusion of Kinect with every Xbox One system will allow the company to better serve contextually relevant ads, and that integrating advertising material within content will make it less jarring.
“On Xbox, the ad is part of the actual experience, it’s not something that is outside. The only difference is that the advertisement we have is quite small and not disruptive, so people are not aware of clicking on the banners because they know this is a part of the whole experience on the dash,” the senior digital art director revealed. “So the users know that this is something that when they click on it, they won’t be hit by something crazy or something dangerous like on the web. Everything that lands there, we create."
Microsoft's advertising team believes the upcoming Xbox One will allow advertising to evolve in line with the platform's gaming content.
“It’s going to be an exciting transition, though, because the 360 console wasn't built with advertising in mind, it was more of an afterthought, so we've had to adapt to the technology and how we work to fit them in to the console,” said the Xbox Live advertising technical account manager.
Users concerned that the Xbox One and its Kinect camera may be collecting personal, identifying, or biometric information from the system should not be concerned, the team said.
“This sort of works at two levels. There’s the game producers, who have a different API, so a different set of code and system that they use, and they've got a lot more control of the whole thing,” the developer commented, “whereas from the advertising point of view, we have a slightly more limited set, which is designed to protect the user. The company is very keen on protecting the user from any sort of abuse, so we can’t do certain things.”
Originally likened to a “monitoring device” by Germany's federal data protection commissioner, Microsoft has attempted to allay consumer fears that its new home console will spy on its users. The company recently released official information on how the Kinect camera can be paused, which personal data the system will collect, and how it will be shared with third parties.