Microsoft is trying to [ersuade[sic] politicians to take out targeted ads on Xbox Live, Skype, MSN and other company platforms as midterm elections begin heating up around the country. To plug the idea, Microsoft officials handed out promotional materials Thursday at CPAC, the annual conference for conservatives.
It's the latest move by tech companies to seize a piece of the lucrative political ad market. The ads, which would appear on the Xbox Live dashboard and other Microsoft products, combine Microsoft user IDs and other public data to build a profile of Xbox users. Campaigns can then blast ads to selected demographic categories, or to specific congressional districts. And if the campaign brings its own list of voter e-mail addresses, Microsoft can match the additional data with individual customer accounts for even more accurate voter targeting.
With the new Xbox One, Microsoft has put all their chips on being the go-to device for the entirety of your home entertainment, focusing on the capabilities of the console to handle TV, movies, and Internet streaming even over the games it was ostensibly created to play. No doubt they know that once they can guarantee your eyes are on their box at all times, the advertisers will come running, and with a Kinect 2.0 attached to every one of those boxes quietly monitoring everyone in the room, they stand to have enormous ability to target ads, political or otherwise. (And report to the NSA, but that's a topic for another time.) If it works, Sony, Nintendo, and the other players in the industry will almost certainly follow suit.
Beyond all that, gaming is an experience like no other. Conditioning people to dislike certain political concepts takes multiple movies and television shows, but when that evil businessman betrays your character and kidnaps your character's girlfriend in a video game, that's personal, and it sticks with you.
*h/t to Sarjex, for the graphic. Check out more of her work in her store.