It was a groundbreaking way to immerse consumers in a brand. It had never been done before, and advertisers flocked to the new concept because, for the first time, they could communicate with audiences in a truly visceral way.
You probably think I’m talking about Kinect. I certainly could be, but I’m actually talking about an advertising technique that debuted to great success four decades ago: scented strips in magazines, or as they are more commonly referred to, scratch-and sniff ads. While this approach may seem somewhat antiquated now, it’s clear that the “Mad Men” of that era were on to something: engaging the physical senses to bring a brand or product to life. (By the way, olfactory engagement ads are far from passé; in fact smell-vertising has recently been used in some highly creative ways --and not only to sell perfume.)
I believe sensory engagement may be advertising’s final frontier (or perhaps the gateway to a whole new universe), and that Kinect is the first mass consumer product to employ it in a way that feels natural and fun. It’s no coincidence that the essential piece of hardware enabling Kinect’s magic is called the Sensor. Advertisers who understand the implications of this new paradigm for audience engagement are enthusiastically asking how they can use Kinect and other innovative technologies such as Surface to bring their brands to life. The latest version of Surface created quite a buzz at CES, particularly for its massive multi-touch capabilities and cool new form factor. Retailers are particularly excited about Surface and how it enables consumers at retail to use the sense of touch to connect with brands. The implications for advertising are significant; stay tuned for more developments. With Kinect, marketers can bring the sense of touch to the large and growing Xbox LIVE audience by using the Kinect Hub. LIVE users can simply use their hands to touch large, animated on-screen buttons. (And speaking of a growing audience, just days ago NPD announced amazing new momentum numbers for Xbox—led by amazing sales for Kinect--further supporting the idea that consumers like to engage in entertainment with their senses more than through a device.)
Still, much like those first advertisers of the scratch and sniff variety, marketers are asking if these types of immersive ad experiences really work. Based on results from some of our very first Kinect advertising campaigns, the answer is a resounding yes. Soon we’ll be sharing a new case study that outlines a big brand’s success in advertising through the connect hub. In the meantime, I can say that we’ve experienced unprecedented ad engagement on the Kinect Hub. Since the launch of the console, we’ve seen consumers invoke hundreds of thousands of ad video streams, resulting in an unprecedented 30% click through rate for this new ad unit. And our very first Kinect advertiser, the Chevy Volt, enjoyed an abundance of success with their virtual test drive campaign, along with winning Car of the Year at the Detroit Auto Show. Congratulations to our friends at GM!
But beyond specific campaign numbers, research has shown that engaging the senses increases brand awareness. We’ve done a number of innovative research studies with EmSense that confirm that emotional and cognitive engagement is more effective than more traditional, linear forms of advertising. Sight, sound, touch, feel, motion—all of these sensory elements are increasingly coming into play for advertisers. How far this all goes is anyone’s guess, but if the current trends continue, we might have to rename television to smell-o-vision.
Mark Kroese, General Manager, Advertising Business Group, Entertainment & Devices Division