Xbox One's Top Marketer Brags To Advertisers About Kinect's Abilities

Xbox One's Top Marketer Brags to Advertisers About Kinect's Abilities

Microsoft's top marketer tossed a juicy hunk of red meat to his kind of people yesterday. While Xbox One isn't selling the stuff Kinect collects from your living room to marketers right out of the box, the capacity is there, and it could be the kind of game-changer that makes ad buyers swoon.

Let's remember that Kinect is no longer mandatory to the Xbox One's operation and neither is a periodic check-in with the Xbox servers, requirements that were walked back under a firestorm of gamer outrage. That said, many users will simply leave both utilities plugged in. And when a publication like Advertising Age — whose audience ain't exactly privacy-concerned hardcore gamers — says "Xbox One can essentially work like TV that watches you, bringing marketers a huge new trove of data," you realise why Microsoft wanted those requirements in the first place.

Mehdi, at the Association of National Advertisters' Masters of Marketing Conference, in Phoenix yesterday, said Microsoft can see whether people are paying attention to ads and evaluate how their bodies respond to them, according to a marketer who attended but asked that his name not be used in AdAge's report.

"It could have a big impact on pricing," he added. AdAge agrees: "If even a fraction of likely Xbox One users could be persuaded to share data, the technology could create the world's largest panel for measuring biometric responses to advertising."

Mehdi told the panel, according to AdAge that "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." He called this "a holy grail in terms of how you understand the consumer in that 360 degrees of their life."

Kinect's ability to distinguish voices in a living room, notice if people are watching the screen or not, and even pick up their heart rate, is well known. Worst-case speculation had it, back in the late spring, that these capabilities could be used for things like tiered pricing in streaming movie rentals. More folks in the room, the more the movie costs.

Instead it seems like Microsoft doesn't plan on just selling eyeballs to advertisers, but their emotional reactions too. Maybe that's why they are not selling the machine without Kinect. Sounds like your extra $US100 is going toward putting an uber-Nielsen box in your living room.

Xbox One's Data Treasure Trove Could Reshape Marketing [Advertising Age]


    "He called this 'a holy grail in terms of how you understand the consumer in that 360 degrees of their life.'"

    Sorry, that was last gen.

    *ba-dum tish*

      Whoever downvoted your comment is among the worst human beings on the planet. Probably the marketer mentioned in the article...

      Last edited 07/10/13 7:04 pm

    Sounds like it could potentially violate privacy laws, or at least those regarding minors.

    Doesn't this kind of response measurement require explicit consent beyond "the EULA says that buying the console means you consent to all this monitoring", like explicitly stating what will be monitored before you buy it (if you can't opt out of it), or making it explicitly opt in even when you do choose to use kinect.

      The terms and conditions of the XBox One more than likely includes a clause on the data gathering nature of the Kinect.

      Basically, if you leave your Kinect plugged in, you consent to Microsoft using that data however they please.

      Also, violating privacy laws only happens when the data gathered can be used to uniquely identify one user in particular. So in other words, if Microsoft sells ad inventory of users who respond more positively to certain forms of advertising, then that is fine, but if they begin to sell each persons complete individual data, then that is a breach of privacy laws. If there is still some anonymity involved, then it is relatively okay. At the end of the day, Microsoft will need to offer an opt-out service.

      Last edited 08/10/13 12:11 pm

      yeah they could just write them into some t's & c's at first boot - enough people don't read them

    I'm a bit funny about these things. I would not be cool with having a machine like this in the room with me. A machine that is collating data on me and passing it on to other parties.

    And I really don't know how other people are cool with this. How long till we hear stories of people's xbox's being hacked so that the camera is always recording them?

    And then all the websites that will spring up the with 'greatest hits' of what people get up to when they're alone with their tvs. Ick.

      Do you own a laptop or a home PC with a webcam or an iphone well that's the same god damn thing especially computers and smart phones that tell websites where you live using gps or IP address tracking every online machine does this get over it

        "Get over it"? The systematic destruction of privacy? Where does it end, once we collectively decide we are "over it"?
        Go read 1984, and then day this sort of shit shouldn't concern me.

    I often feel alone in my opinion when I talk with people about when advertisers use my data to customise the ads they show me.
    From my perspective I kinda like the concept, if they started showing me trailers or special deals for videogames and whatever else I have an interest in, then the ad changes from an annoyance to something I actually want to know about.
    Also I don't believe that being shown products I'm interested in will make me go out and buy them, human beings do have something called self-control after all.

      I suppose it depends how they get the data. When, say, an online games shop asks me what genres I like so they can send me related newsletters, that's totally fine- I'm choosing to give them certain data, in exchange for filtering the junk to what I want. On the other hand, I wouldn't be cool with staff from the games shop breaking into my house to look at my games collection!

      They seem to have more than customising ads in mind, though, viz "It could have a big impact on pricing". Jack up the price when your ad biometrics tell you you're onto a winner?

        I think they mean it on a totally different end, that if they can promise that 50% of people the add is showed to get turned on, by it or like it in some manner they can get significantly more advertising dollars.

        I could be wrong in that interpretation but that is what jumped at me first, gamers are pretty savvy so i doubt trying to jack up the price on a per person basis wouldn't cause some serious gamer rage and outcry which is why i thought it un likely.

      You have your perspective and i appreciate your perspective but when you assume that self-control is the issue, then i feel like someone needs to enlighten you that there's actually a lot more to it. I think that making the gigantic, leaping assumption that everyone who doesn't see things from your perspective just has no self-control is kind of silly.

      Now, for "consumers" maybe ads that you like provide you with some sort of benefit. For the product itself, i don't think anything could be worse than tailoring something entirely to popular trends. Over the last few years, market research has gotten somewhat out of hand and has brought several embarrassing trends and stereotypes to gaming - such as: we're all thirteen and an ignorant version of a real boy, none of us could possibly have the attention span to read a book or work, there is only america, people will only play an fps or tps adventure, everything must be multiplayer, everything must be simple... Etc. Catering to trends sends us backward. Embracing new ideas takes us forward. We see basically every market but "white teen boy" ignored. (Though some here seem to think there's only one other social group that matters) I don't want to be categorized, i don't want to be pandered to by the media and i don't want someone to try and sell me something every time i use something in my house.

      I think it's kind of ridiculous today that we're in a supposedly more aware society than a decade ago but everyone is fighting so hard to surround themselves only with what they believe and enjoy but aren't willing to be challenged by the mere everyday of perhaps reading, seeing or hearing something that may provide you with a perspective. If all the media you consume is catered specifically to you then we're looking at an even more ignorant and embarrassing community than we have now. The idea that soon, everyone is going to be pandered to and will be loving it makes me a little sad.

      Last edited 07/10/13 8:18 pm

        When I said self control I meant, in my case, Ive done research on up coming games and I know which ones I want and which I dont. I want bf4 and I have the hardware to play it, I dont want the new pokemon and I dont have the hardware to play it. No amount of tailored ads will make me go out and buy a 2ds and pokemon.

        Aside from that point I do agree that if we head in the direction you spoke if it would be a massive loss/setback.

    > "you realise why Microsoft wanted those requirements in the first place."

    > "Maybe that’s why they are not selling the machine without Kinect."

    They've been pretty vocal about their reasoning behind this and that's for increased developer support as developers would then know that 1 Xbox = 1 Kinect. Seems like you've just added these comments to spur on the community, page hits are awesome you know.

    Anyway back on topic, of course the potential is there. The potential is there for your microphone+camera enabled phone and desktop too. You may as well argue the same for all webcam included laptop (hard to find one without these days). However even if one day this potential comes to fruition, as long as they're transparent about it and REQUIRE user consent, I see no issue.

    I do question how informed Mehdi actually is on the Xbox though, considering he originally wrote the article without being aware of the major changes surrounding the console (Kinect must be connected, 24 hour check-ins).

    Last edited 07/10/13 3:25 pm

      However even if one day this potential comes to fruition, as long as they're transparent about it and REQUIRE user consent, I see no issue.

      Here's the issue though. If they put in a clause into a new EULA or ToS update and you hit decline, then what's stopping them from locking your system till you agree? Or will you even notice in the first place? These days companies get away with just about anything because people do not read nor understand EULA/ToS agreements, they just want to play their games, privacy and rights be damned.

        I was talking about an opt in scenario, of course I would be completely against that, as I myself would not like to consent.

        If they put in a clause into a new EULA or ToS update and you hit decline, then what's stopping them from locking your system till you agree? Or will you even notice in the first place?

        I'd like to see a privacy law which specifically requires that every time this kind of creepy, invasive stuff is about to happen via your kinect (or whatever) that a full screen consent request comes up, and that if you click "hells no!!!" then it is unlawful to in any way prevent the device from otherwise functioning normally.

        Of course, this would result in 99.999% of people clicking "no".

      > "you realise why Microsoft wanted those requirements in the first place."
      > "Maybe that’s why they are not selling the machine without Kinect."
      They've been pretty vocal about their reasoning behind this and that's for increased developer support as developers would then know that 1 Xbox = 1 Kinect.

      Yeah. Sure. And Sim City HAD to be Online Only and they were very vocal about their reasoning behind this and the integral nature of forced-online to a game whose mechanics were designed as a multi-player system.

      Also, Diablo 3 didn't have a single-player option, because uhm... fuckit, REASONS. (Did they ever bother to give any? I think I heard a bunch of white noise, blahblah support the AH, blahblah social experience, blahblahdeargodsayanythingexceptDRM) We all know those excuses were bullshit window-dressing.

      Developers making the best they could out of what was clearly a mandate - make it Always Online to fight piracy and drive social pressure sales/increase duration of product tail. If you think that the strategic direction behind mandatory kinect is purely a game-design-focused decision, then I think you are incredibly naive.

    Excluding Kinect, they are already able to get a huge amount of marketing data from you. Thinks like the type of movies you watch through Netflix, the games you play, sports you watch, times you are active, and a bunch of stuff I can't begin to imagine.

    I feel like we already knew all this stuff about the Xbox one, and I'm sure that the data will be washed before it gets sold...

    I wonder how they're going to release a console, when they're already so busy shooting themselves in the foot?

      As someone has mentioned on here before, I think most people don't care. As (active) members of a gaming site like this, we're probably more so the 'hard core minority' of gamers.

    I'm pretty sure I could tell you right now without the use of kinect how most gamers will react to advertising, especially if they are gold subscribers.

    I find the reading of biometrics thing a little creepy. It's one thing for Google to know you like Scarlett Johansson because you've searched for nude pics on Google. It's another for Microsoft to know because they've caught you masturbating.

      Stop masturbating in front of your Kinect or better still, don't plug the fucking thing in! You do realise that you have that option now yeah?

      Last edited 07/10/13 10:31 pm

      Great... here come my slew of fainting goat recommendations from ms...

    Kinect IS required by the x1 to do anything other than play blurays and basic dashboard navigation/purchases. To play a game (even completely downloaded xbla games) the kinect must be plugged in.

    Claiming the kinect is no longer mandatory is false. That said, im still getting both a ps4 and an x1.

      Not true. You might want to look into the facts about Kinect requirements. Unless a game depends on it the console can be utilised without it. People need to stop beating this up because they're too lazy to do their research.

      You should be a bit more up to date on the console you plan on buying.

        I read about that a last month but also read "somewhere" (can't remember where) that all disc game/xbla/app "counted" as kinect required.

        Happy to be wrong if I am. I don't "plan" on buying it, I already have. Kinect being forced on me is a sore point, but not enough to not game.

        EDIT: Basically still seeing conflicting reports and press releases about what exactly constitutes "Kinect Required". At this point I'm convinced that I will have to wait till its in my living room to know.

        Last edited 08/10/13 12:25 am

      Yeah if every game has it as a requirement than it is mandatory still just not in an outright stated way.
      MS did a backflip on the polices to close to launch for games that are nearly finished to have the use of the camera changed if it was a central component.

    Selling your emotions to advertisers?

    The key phrase is right here:

    “If even a fraction of likely Xbox One users could be persuaded to share data,..."

    Yep. You have to give consent to share your data. I reckon 99.99% of people will say no.

      How many people consented to having their data shared with the NSA?

        I dunno. Do advertising agencies fall under the category of NSA?

          Doesn't matter - once they've got the data, you've got no idea what they're doing with it or who they're sharing it with, regardless of what you have or haven't consented to.

            I don't deny that they have the potential to do what you are saying. And if they ever did that then as a company, they deserve to lose all their business to their competitors. If they ever denied access to key services unless we accept their EULA or ToS then they also deserve to lose all their business.

            Microsoft, advertisers and marketers ALL put themselves at risk by using information which has not been legally obtained.

            I just think there's too much at risk to do something so blatantly stupid, and illegal, as sharing private data such as recorded video / biometrics etc without express consent... especially to simple marketing and advertising firms.

            Last edited 07/10/13 7:34 pm

              Why aren't there more of you out there, everyone's so quick to jump the gun and assume the worst.

      Try reading your EULA and ToS agreements sometime, you'll be shocked at what you see.

        If Microsoft were so stupid to release private info without consent, to an advertising agency, then they deserve to be sued for all it's worth.

        The NSA is bad enough, but they're also in a different league, with legal powers relating to the request of information that is FAR beyond what advertisers and marketers are legally afforded. And I don't think the NSA are interested in selling bags of chips either, so any request by them is likely pertaining to matters of national security. Well, hopefully.

        There is no way that MS can share private information with advertisers and marketers, unless the customer is made aware - and clearly made aware - with the option to deny consent of information sharing.

          "If Microsoft were so stupid to release private info without consent"

          Your missing the point, they will force peoples consent through EULA and ToS agreements, you buy the hardware/software you agree to the terms to use it.

          People do not read EULA and ToS agreements and will blindly agree to plug Kinect in as part of the condition to running a game, little do they no all the other things it is doing that they agreed to in the EUAL or ToS that they did not read, also how many people do you think will get up and unplug Kinect once its connected, some maybe but it would get old quick and people are lazy (Microsoft is banking on that).

          And even if people don't accept the EULA or ToS on a game, what next? they just put the game aside and write it off as a $100 loss, they go back to the store and try to get a refund (isn't that a pain in the ass) how about if you buy the game digitally, well then you are pretty much screwed, good luck getting a refund for that.

          Oh and remember when you give Microsoft consent to collect your data, you are giving them permission to collect it, the NSA however does not need permission from you or Microsoft, they just need to request the information from the person that is holding it, they are answerable to pretty much no one, on top of that Microsoft can wash there hands and say "Well you agreed to give us your information and we have to comply with requests from the NSA so we are not responsible"

            Have you read the EULA/ToS and if so, what parts are giving you reason to have these concerns?

            Or are you just worrying over what could happen, if so I take it you hold the same concerns for your desktop/phone/other console?


              Q: When you first announced the Xbox One there was a lot of focus on the digital future, digital delivery, digital retail, sharing of content and online connectivity. And you took a lot of flak for that. Not all of that was justified. There's an acceptance that if you play MMOs you're connected to the internet, if you use Steam for your games there's a lot of connectivity issues there, DRM is accepted in some services more than others. When Microsoft announced similar elements for the Xbox One there was an instant revulsion that this was going to happen in console gaming. What was your reaction to that, considering a number of policies have been scaled back or changed entirely?

              Phil Harrison: Our long term vision hasn't changed at all. We haven't diluted our long term vision, which is all of the benefits of a connected ecosystem and what that means for all of the stakeholders - us, developer, publisher and crucially, the player. None of that has changed. What we recognised was when you put a disc slot in the front of a machine certain expectations come with that disc slot. We had to adapt some of our policies and it was best that we did those before we launched, which we've done. All of that can be handled in the vacuum of the pre-launch activity. And it allows the players to have a choice. They can consume the content through the medium they like the best and fits with their particular situation. I don't think there's a negative to that.


              My problem is that they are slowly going to change the Xbox One back in to what the were originally pushing (including the always connected Kinect) they are just going to do it in small steps, each step requiring you to sign off on a new EULA or ToS and i can see no reason why i would not work if people have already invested.

              "if so I take it you hold the same concerns for your desktop/phone/other console?"

              I don't own a mobile phone, my desktop computer does not have a camera, nether does my PS3.

      Facebook users have the choice, and most don't opt out.

      When that consent is tied in with the use of your console (you know the one you have already paid for) and you cannot use it unless you agree, yeah i can see a lot of people saying no.

    The kinnect is planned to be used on a number of devices not just xbox, my family is paid by an advertising company to record our buying habits and they supply all the gear.....i wouldnt be surprised if i see one of their bits of equipment with a kinnect on it one day......and yes i would participate if i was paid

    Advertising is what kinect is all about.

      I don't know why the downvote. It's a reasonable logic jump when you consider that advertising is what XBL Gold is all about. Have you seen that fucking dashboard or tried to navigate anywhere in it?

    Oh good, they can see I'm not paying attention to any ads and stop showing them to me!

    They will talk about how good it is to the experience of the xbone and how it will enhance your gaming and then go right around in the next room and talk to advertisers saying how much opportunity it has for their business.

    Kinect 2 doesn't actually have voice recognition.

    It has facial recognition and can pinpoint the location of a voice. Tying the two together for faux-voice recognition.

    The only time it can become an issue is if the monitoring is a requirement of the systems functionality. I point my Kinect at the wall, unplug it or simply have something in front of it most of the time. So if I have the camera and mic blocked in some fashion with the Xbone and it won't run, game over for that console.

    The legal quandary of simple stuff like visitors to your home, children and general regional privacy laws makes any active monitoring next to impossible. However what people don't realise is that passive monitoring is pretty much 100% ok across the board. Unfortunately you can tell a lot about a subject without actually targeting their details and thats what advertsiers already get. The Kinect can legally be a constant "blind study". As long as they never name you or react to your data overtly (tell the police you do drugs etc) they can pretty much do what they want. Even things like detecting murder, rape, child molesters, as much as we would love to use that data against those scum, I am 100% against it because of how it can be misused (and would be no doubt) to enforce ideology. Even if an Xbox One Kinect could prevent another 911 its so very wrong to use any device without lawful warrant.

    "Oh, and if anyone here is in marketing or advertising ... kill yourself." - Bill Hicks.
    I'd love to hear his thoughts on this Kinect debacle.

    Mehdi, at the Association of National Advertisters’ Masters of Marketing Conference, in Phoenix yesterday, said Microsoft can see whether people are paying attention to ads and evaluate how their bodies respond to them... "It could have a big impact on pricing."

    OK Microsoft, you wanna know why you've been having image problems and why people disrespectfully called your new bid for survival the 'xbone'? See guys, this shit doesn't help with your gamer cred.

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