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Xbox Live Hits the Ad Spot

BDRC Continental's Max Willey looks at in-game advertising on Microsoft's online platform

While in-game advertising has prompted much discussion in the past few years, there's not been a huge amount written about opportunities on the console platforms themselves. Sony's PlayStation Home is arguably the most obvious of the three current-gen machines in providing a home for marketing content - but Xbox Live is also showing some healthy numbers as well.

That's according to BRDC Continental's research director, Max Willey, who here takes a look at the Microsoft platform, and offers an analysis of the state of play.

Xbox Live (XBL) is huge and it's growing. Microsoft recently released figures showing that the 25 million XBL users worldwide are each spending more than 30 hours per month on the service – that means cumulatively Xbox Live members are now logging on to the service for more than one billion hours a month.

The XBL dashboard, recently souped up to promote and integrate Xbox's spanking new Kinect peripheral, puts an ever increasing array of entertainment at the fingertips of its users: on demand movies and TV programmes, streamed radio, webchat, videochat and access to Facebook and Twitter. And rumours abound of more content in the pipeline...

In the last year alone there has been a 157 per cent increase in the time spent watching movies and television on Xbox. 42 per cent of XBL Gold members in the US are watching an average of an hour of television and movies on the service every day.

With these kinds of figures the Xbox Live dashboard has become an important opportunity for advertisers.

Xbox Live ads are interactive and unobtrusive

The intuitive nature of Xbox Live navigation (those nice big icons on the dashboard) is increasingly being used to place targeted, interactive advertising. The advertising, whilst noticeable, is relatively unobtrusive to those who choose not to interact, but its key strength is the extent to which it rewards users who do click through, giving them a mix of immersive content and virtual freebies such as downloadable gamer pictures, themes, streamed video and even branded games.

These rewards are, of course, important to both advertiser and user: A theme installed on a console means a gamer will be immersed in that branded environment whenever they access the dashboard - potentially a long period of time. Freebies mean that those who interact with the advertising are extremely positive about advertised brands.

They feel rewarded for interacting, resulting in warm perceptions of the advertised brand. It also makes them positive about the context of the advertising, and likely to interact with more ads for more rewards in future – a win-win situation for advertisers.

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