Microsoft has announced the launch of its NUads advertising platform, bringing interactive adverts to Xbox Live. From today the system is available for interested companies, with Toyota and Unilever already signing up.
But what does this mean for you the Xbox user? Adverts on Xbox Live sit in various locations and the NUads (natural user advertising) are going to be rolling into video content, where you'll find existing pre-roll adverts.
So when you fire up a video app that uses adverts - which in the UK includes MSN Video Player, Crackle, Muzu.tv, Screenrush, Halo Waypoint and Last.fm - you will soon be seeing NUads in place.
Essentially this means no real change for users, except that some advertising will now become interactive, inviting you to take some action, if you wish.
Rohan Oommen, general manager of Xbox Live EMEA, told us that the change would "fundamentally transform television advertising", which in video terms hasn't seen a huge amount of change up to now.
NUads leverages the tools at the disposal of the Xbox, to bring user engagement. You'll be able to speak and use gestures through Kinect, or use your controller, to engage with the advert.
"NUads and the gesture and voice-based Kinect technology have great potential for creativity. What we’re seeing now is at the very early stages of what we could do," commented Babs Rangaiah, vice-president of global media innovation at Unilever. "And as always, we’re keen to continue to explore more ways of inviting our consumers to get involved with our brands."
Various scenarios have been proposed, but to begin with you'll most likely be presented with a question you can answer, ie, polling. In the future there is the potential to do much more: you could share a viral advert you see via a social network, or be able to find out more information using the browser, or even open a website on a third screen, such as a tablet or smartphone.
It sounds great for advertisers, but doesn't it present an intrusion for Xbox users? Well no, it doesn't. We've seen two adverts, one for Toyota and one for Lynx, which present questions. All it takes is a wave of the hand to answer the question and if you don't want to, the ad just runs on as normal.
It reality, interaction will come down to how clever advertisers are. Of course, the responses can be of some use to advertisers, although Microsoft ensured us that user data wasn't going to be collected: this isn't a way to tailor advertising to you as an individual as you might find on Google or Facebook.
Oommen went on to tell us that there had been a 30 per cent growth in time spend on Xbox Live year on year and that 300m hours of video content globally were being watched every month.
NUads will be appearing in Xbox Live in Autumn and from what we've seen so far, present a good opportunity for advertisers, without an intrusion on users.
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