Forty-nine days from an Xbox One rollout that could make or break one of Microsoft's most successful brands, the key marketing executive behind the launch outlined how it also could reshape marketing in a speech to the Association of National Advertisers Masters of Marketing Conference in Phoenix Oct. 5.
Yusuf Mehdi, corporate VP-marketing and strategy for Microsoft, outlined how he expects the new system, which succeeds the eight-year-old Xbox 360 in a neck-and-neck race with Sony's Playstation 4 launch, could affect marketing. Those possibilities include ramping up consumer expectations for production values in advertising thanks to advances in Xbox imaging technology, furthering the "gamification" movement in advertising, and consolidating more attention now diffused among multiple devices for gaming, TV and web browsing onto the big screen.
But perhaps the biggest potential impact is one Mr. Mehdi only hinted at -- the possibility of making data from Xbox available for market research.
"We are trying to bridge some of the world between online and offline," he said. "That's a little bit of a holy grail in terms of how you understand the consumer in that 360 degrees of their life. We have a pretty unique position at Microsoft because of what we do with digital, as well as more and more with television because of Xbox. It's early days, but we're starting to put that together in more of a unifying way, and hopefully at some point we can start to offer that to advertisers broadly."
Basically falls in line with what was said earlier this year about Xbox One's Dashboard being created “with advertising In mind”
So, yeah, I wrote about this a little over a month ago on my blog (which mostly just houses my podcast but when something pops up I write about it... I also wrote, back in august, that Sony still has a lot to prove. So, ya know, fair and balanced and all of that.
And as much as I love the clicks and hope that it turns into people listening to my podcast (210 episodes... i'm getting close to have as many episodes as listeners ><)... I also think that this info is pretty important. So click if you want (and any ads you see go to wordpress, I don't make a dime from the site... in fact I pay about $300 a year to host it and the podcast... maybe I need NuADs).
But here are some relevant quotes from Microsoft people(with their original sources):
“NUads marks the beginning of a new era for TV advertising. It delivers the one thing traditional TV advertising is missing — engagement. We developed NUads to breathe new life into the standard 30-second spot. With NUads, brands can get real-time feedback from audiences, making TV advertising actionable for the first time.” - Ross Honey, general manager of Xbox LIVE Entertainment and Advertising (source = Time)
Nothing awful yet. Kinda gross, basically they want you to take part in ads.
This is where it gets scary:
“How many people are in the living room? Are they taking any action based on the advertising they just saw? Can we watch the customers’ reaction, and if we can, do we have the capability of showing a different ad, or the same ad, depending on what the reaction was?” – Lynn Watts, Xbox Manager (source = CNET)
I believe this is the quote that Albert was talking about. He claims they aren't actually doing this.
”With respect to privacy, Xbox 360 and Xbox Live do not use any information captured by Kinect for advertising targeting purposes and NUads is no exception. Microsoft has a strong track record of implementing some of the best privacy protection measures in the industry. We place great importance on the privacy of our customers’ information and the safety of their experiences.” A Microsoft spokesperson in response to CNET.
To that I call bullshit. This is where my own article get a little murky - because I talk about the NSA stuff now. People thought I was getting tinfoil-hat-ish (the article was popular on N4G when it went up so I was reading comments there... always fun). My point wasn't so much that the Kinect was going to be a NSA device. My point was that microsoft can't say stuff like "Microsoft has a strong track record of implementing some of the best privacy protection measures in the industry." Edward Snowden and the NSA leaks taught us that this isn't even close to true, Microsoft. You get no trust on this subject. And while I like albert penello quite a bit... I don't trust him on this subject either. They lost their trust with the NSA thing.
I can even believe, maybe, that there are no plans on data mining facial expressions and shit at launch. But they are sitting on a gold mine of data and, in my personal conjecture, I don't see how they stop themselves from mining it.
Please pay attention to the carefully worded statement:
MS just put out a comment about this.
Originally Posted by Microsoft
The comments in Ad Age attributed to Yusuf Mehdi were not in relation to Kinect. We do not have plans to target ads or content to you based on any data Kinect collects. We have a long-standing commitment to your privacy and will not target ads to you based on any data Kinect collects unless you choose to allow us to do so. Furthermore, we will give you a clear explanation of what is collected and how it will be used. Importantly, we do not collect your personal information to share or sell to third parties, and you are fully in control over what personal data is shared. We have strict policies to protect your privacy and these policies will continue to be upheld with our next generation product.
We do not have plans to target ads or content to you based on any data Kinect collects.
We have a long-standing commitment to your privacy and will not target ads to you based on any data Kinect collects unless you choose to allow us to do so.
I feel like this is going to be a long one.
Maybe Albert Penello or someone else could fill us in what Mr Mehdi was talking about in the quote above? If it's not related to Kinect then what is it?
First, let's go back to what I originally posted on this topic on the 10/2. It was in an unrelated thread, so I'm not surprised if people missed it. There seems to be a high degree of selective quoting, so let's start here, because I posted this having no idea Yusuf would be at an advertising conference 4 days later. That was certainly ironic.
My point on this I guess I thought was clear. Lots of people had talked about it speculating on what could be done. But before anything actually HAPPENS, as in we ship something that people experience, there has to be real development work to enable it. Nobody on the engineering team is doing that work. Everyone is focused on launch. As I see the features coming POST launch, for the foreseeable future, there are a lot of things the team will be working on and I haven't seen any work items around this then either. So as far as I can tell, for at least the next year, the development team isn't doing any work around advertising and Kinect. Since there (were) over 6000 people working on Xbox, its possible somebody, somewhere MAY be doing something with this.
Well I think there's two things you're asking. NuAds by definition is simply interactive advertising done on the platform. Using the functions of the console and Kinect to interact vs. just watching a spot. There's nothing particularly interesting happening here unless you're in the advertising business, and we've done a few on Xbox 360 today.
What I think you're asking about is an interview done earlier in the year where someone was talking about how some of the new Xbox One Kinect features *could* be used in advertising - since we can see expressions, engagement, etc. and how that might be used to target advertising. This is the point that seems to draw some controversy.
First - nobody is working on that. We have a lot more interesting and pressing things to dedicate time towards. It was an interview done speculatively, and I'm not aware of any active work in this space.
Second - if something like that ever happened, you can be sure it wouldn't happen without the user having control over it. Period.
Two examples of how we deal with similar things today:
First, Kinect can recognize your face and log you in automatically. There could be some cool features we could enable if we stored that data in the cloud, like being able to be auto-recognized at a friend's. I get asked for that feature a lot. But, for privacy reasons, your facial data doesn't leave the console.
Second: You'll see us do some things around Skype that freezes the video when Skype is not in focus (meaning, it's not the primary app). If you go back to the home screen, or launch another app, we actually stop the video stream. We do this so the user can't even ACCIDENTALLY have the video stream going on in the background.
I'll say this - we take a lot of heat around stuff we've done and I can roll with it. Some of it is deserved. But preventing Kinect from being used inappropriately is something the team takes very seriously.
Hope that helps.
Ok so then Yusuf is at an advertising conference. If you review the original article, it's VERY unclear what he said regarding Kinect. In fact, in reference specifically to Kinect, the author says "But perhaps the biggest potential impact is one Mr. Mehdi only hinted at -- the possibility of making data from Xbox available for market research."
So the author himself says Yusuf only "hinted" then goes on to speculate on a bunch of things.
Without talking to Yusuf, or anyone about the event, at 11:20 PM I posted my thoughts on the article.
Nothing I said yesterday is inconsistent with Yusuf's interview. People appear to be combining different parts of the interview to try and make another point.
Clearly Yusuf is talking about the TV and NFL stuff in terms of "putting together in a unifying way" It's also clear that anything around using Kinect was "hinted at" and all the remaining comments come from the author.
And finally - he's talking to "Advertising Age" so it would be somewhat obvious he would be talking about advertising type stuff.
I'll reiterate what I said yesterday. The Kinect system already has the ability to detect engagement. We don't track it. We only track Voice if you opt-in. Kinect 2.0 has improved, but not completely changed, the type of data available and you can see we've done very little with it, and it's easy to find a website where we explain in great detail, and in layman's terms, what we do with the Kinect data.
And again, IF any of this type of biometric data were to ever be used for advertising, you could expect like today we'd make it optional to the user. And of course, on top of all of this, we allow it to be disconnected unless the game/experience requires it.
If you look at the facts we make available, and OUR history with Kinect, it would not support that we're going to be doing anything with the data unless it's very clear to the user.
back to your regularly scheduled posting.
Let's see what the original author of the article has to say? I pulled this from the comments section. Bolded parts are mine:
# 3 - Oct 06, 2013 9:45 AM
You're both right that Microsoft has dropped the check-in requirement. My apologies, and we will correct that.
But, Mike, Mr. Mehdi clearly broached the idea of sharing research about television with advertisers, after showing a room full of marketers what Kinect can do. This wasn't in the context of ad targeting on Xbox, but in the context of consumer "understanding." He also said they're not doing this now. Nothing Mr. Penello said in the article referenced contradicts this.
This article clearly says, "if even a fraction of likely Xbox One users could be persuaded to share data," it has potential to become an unprecedented tool for measuring biometric responses to advertising. It's hard to believe Microsoft would or could share this data with advertisers without people's consent, but there are many incentives Xbox users could be offered to opt in to data sharing.
So the author of the article basically confirms his own article was misunderstood. Yusuf was talking about TV and Smartglass, showed a Kinect demo, talked about the potential of Kinect, then said we weren't doing anything. And he read my comments here and basically confirms there is no contradiction.
But since very few people read the article, or read the comment from the author, the PR team felt compelled to issue a statement that was very clear. It validates what *I* said, and it validates what the author clarifies *Yusuf* said - nobody is doing the engineering work to implement this.
Here's an article where the PR team clarifies what Yusuf said.
So let's recap what happened here.
I said any reference to using Kinect biometrics for advertising was purely speculative, and we're not doing any development work to implement it.
There was an article with a misleading title and a confusing reference to Yusuf saying something different.
The author of that article clarified in his own comments section that Yusuf was also saying using Kinect biometrics was speculative, and we weren't working on it, and confirmed that what I said and what Yusuf said did not contradict
The PR team issued a clarifying statement to that effect.
So all this perceived inconsistency boils down to an article in AdAge that was basically vague.
I'm going to summarize one more time our stance on this, since people think I dodge the question. It's what I've said before, it's what the PR team just reiterated, and it turns out it's what Yusuf said last week.
We are not working on anything using biometric data from Kinect or anywhere else to target advertising.
No personal information leaves the Xbox One Console
The only biometric data we collect, are voice samples to improve our recognition engine. We only do that when a consumer opts in. There is a very clear checkbox in the Settings menu.
IF anything like this ever gets implemented, we will be clear to consumers and give them the ability to control it. We have historically posed this information online, not buried in a complicated EULA, and I see no reason to think that will change.
So there you go.