Every so often, you realize that you’re part of a “tipping point” moment. This particular moment is about the transformation of TV from a one-size-fits-all passive experience to a personalized, social and irresistibly interactive experience. For both consumers and advertisers, the promise of interactive TV has finally arrived.
The last 11 months have been pretty amazing for Xbox LIVE, and our advertising partners. First there was the launch of Kinect, then our announcement of NUads, and yesterday (at long last, some TV buyers might say) we announced at the TVNext conference that nearly 40 new entertainment partners are coming to Xbox LIVE, expanding our position as the next generation entertainment network and creating innovative opportunities for advertisers.
I am personally very excited about this week’s announcement. Over the years, I’ve spent a lot of time with CMO’s and senior media strategists. Inevitably, they ask “When will I be able to buy a dynamically-served, targeted 30-second TV spot within premium entertainment content on Xbox LIVE?” I finally have an answer: now.
This is significant, because while there has been a whirlwind of change in the ways brands can reach their audience, one thing has stayed the same: TV buyers still prefer to reach their target consumers contextually. Put another way, content remains king. At the same time, brand advertisers have been longing for a more engaging TV experience—the kind of experience we provide on Xbox LIVE—in order to maximize their TV advertising investment. I’ve observed my industry peers struggle with this dilemma, and I’m pleased that we now have a best of both worlds solution we can offer them: the accountability and interactivity of the Web with the high impact, sight, sound and motion of high definition TV.
Importantly, we’re making it simple and flexible for advertisers to connect with the audience that comes with these nearly 40 new partners. Brands can use their existing creative, which makes it extremely easy to plug in to their overall media plan. And, just like a traditional 30-second spot on TV today, these ads will run within premium entertainment content on Xbox LIVE.
Advertisers have been clamoring for more content on our platform for some time now. Certainly, these advertisers want to see their messages nested within popular programs and experiences. But more importantly, they are eager to advertise to an audience that is inherently interactive and deeply engaged. I believe there are two types of TV audiences: lean-back passive and lean-forward interactive. The latter, found on Xbox LIVE, has an expectation that content (including ads) will be relevant, and that the experience will be interactive. Unlike traditional TV, the 30-second spots on Xbox LIVE will be targeted and with NUads will invite interaction. Users who want to learn more can go from the video stream to an immersive, web-like landing page (a so-called “Branded Destination Experience”) with a simple click, or in the case of NUads, a voice command or gesture.
I see this announcement as the third milestone in a significant, evolutionary shift in the living room. Kinect made interacting with the largest screen in the home completely natural. NUads extend that natural interactivity to brands. And now, a wealth of new content completes the picture, for audiences and advertisers alike.
If content is indeed king, then advertisers are now part of the royal family.
Mark Kroese - General Manager, US Advertising Business Group