What Does Kinect's NUAds Mean for Marketers & Gamers?
From a marketing and behavioral perspective, if a marketer can get you physically and mentally invested in an advertisement, the probability that you'll perform the requested action is significantly higher. The longer you spend interacting with that ad, the "stickier" it becomes. The more senses that are involved with the ad, the more likely you are to remember not only the ad, but the experience of that ad. This correlates into a higher response from consumers. Even if you don't immediately run out and buy something, the next time you need that product, you're more likely to remember the ad and act upon it. For example, I watched Cars 2 with my 5 year old son, even though I knew it was a 90 minute ad for little toy cars, I enjoyed it and the next time I'm in Target with him, I know he'll be asking me to buy Finn McMissile, you know, the one with the wings. From a marketing perspective, because I've seen the movie and enjoyed it, I'm more likely to buy one. Kinect NUAds rely on those behavioral patterns to make their ads more engaging, more entertaining, more interactive and more effective.
From a consumer perspective, the idea that an advertisement requires you to actually, physically interact with the ad itself seems manipulative. That's because it is. It's not a way that we've experienced ads before. Because NUAds are asking us to perceive, interact and respond to marketing in a new way, there's a natural resistance. However, if marketers do their job right, they'll create clever scenarios that will not only communicate the value, but will be fun too. If they can do that, then the NUAds will show their worth. At first, expect the advertisements to be contests. Marketers know that the value of the prizes will have a higher chance of overcoming your skepticism, which will entice you to participate. If that experience is fun, eventually, you'll participate in the ads because they're fun. If advertisers take this new ad platform and make the NUAds generic and stupid, the ad campaign will fail and it'll create a vocal (and deserved) backlash.
Kinect's NUAds Aren't Just About the Ads, it's About Discovery & Connection
The last point about NUAds that needs to be pointed out is that there's a clear integration of the activities we do on our phones, computers and tablets that's being developed for the Xbox 360, future PCs running Windows 8, the Windows Phone 7 and the Kinect. Microsoft is adding Bing voice search to the Xbox Live platform that's location aware. You'll be able to search by voice for media from Netflix, Xbox Live, Hulu and potentially YouTube. For example, if I'm playing through a game and I can't quite make it past a level, I can potentially search Bing for "walkthroughs", select a YouTube result, then send that link to my phone or email to watch while I play that game.
While the Xbox 360 started out as simply a gaming console, it's become the center of Microsoft's home entertainment and media strategy. Seeing companies like Apple and Google continually evolve the technology, portability and behaviors of tech users, Microsoft knows that in order to stay relevant with as many people as possible, it has to change.
Will the Kinect NUAds be voluntary? They'll have to be. Will they attempt to, at the very least, engage the gaming and Xbox Live community with advertisements that speak to us? They'll have to. Will some of them be annoying and just simply stupid? Of course they will. Will I feel just a little bit dirty for tweeting an ad in the hopes of winning a sweet prize? Probably. Will this additional revenue provide a secondary benefit of lowering the cost of Xbox Live, or the price of video games or any other tangible benefit like that? Hell no.
The truth is that all the behavioral research and evidence to suggest that this will be a success is on the side of advertisers and marketers. The only thing we can really look forward to is the hope that some of these NUAds will be entertaining, clever and audience appropriate. The real benefit that we get is that the money that the advertisers are giving to Microsoft is going to create more amazing gear... for them to deliver ads to us.
JP Sherman's a professional marketer based out of Raleigh, North Carolina and spends his time providing his marketing skills to The Escapist Magazine, playing games and getting bum-rushed by his 3 young boys. You can follow JP on Twitter where he generally talks about marketing.