It’s no secret that the Xbox One is being marketed as a hub for all entertainment in the living room. Xbox One is designed to let you simultaneously watch tv, play games, chat with Skype, or surf the web.
This is an opportunity for Microsoft to collect valuable data of users’ TV viewing, gaming, and online habits. While this is nothing new–search engines do personal search, Google Now learns your everyday behavior and makes recommendations, Netflix recommends movies, etc– such tools require users to self-report their reaction and preferences, and that data is not always correct. The Xbox One removes the meed for these inaccurate self-reports.
The Xbox One can measure the mood, heart rate and attention of multiple users it recognizes different users using their facial features)through their Expressions platform. And this data will have no self-reporting errors. The raw data will give Microsoft an unprecedented advantage for identifying user behavior and reaction; and using that for advertising on the Xbox One or on Bing.
What does this mean for advertisers?
Platforms for collecting emotional and attention data already exist. Affdex by Affectiva reads emotions from facial expressions via webcam and gives advertisers more accurate consumer insight. Try out their neat emotion reading tool here. And Moat ( founded by Cornellians) calculates the time users spend hovering their cursor over an area to measure attention.
While these tools are definitely innovative they lack Xbox One’s user base and the potential to collect data from an organic setting. While Moat and Affdex collect data from specific sites and ads, Microsoft will collect data while the user is interacting normally with a game, TV shows, commercials or browsing the web at home. Moat’s tool and Affdex will only work on the ads and sites that utilize them, while Xbox One’s position as a hub for at-home digital activity will give them access to more data.
Microsoft has the capability to use this level of in-depth data to revolutionize online advertising and finally give Bing an edge over Google Search.
Increase video advertising efficiency.
The Xbox One can sense if you watched a commercial or not. And if you do the Xbox One will reward you with some type of intangible benefit such as points or ‘achievements.’ Not only is Microsoft driving you to watch more ads, but they can also use that to increase the specifity of ads and increase the efficiency of ad delivery.
Microsoft can provide advertisers the number of impressions, the quality (did the viewer have to be offered points to watch or was the ad that good?), the target (who is watching? (fe)male, age, etc.), ad completion and engagement in one report. The advertisers can then determine where to increase their efforts and spending; benefiting their own brand and also Microsoft.
Tune Ad content in real-time.
Say for example you are watching an ad (that Microsoft already thought was appealing to you) and your attention begins to drift, Xbox One will recognize that and alter the sequence of ads or even the current one immediately. You are not laughing at the Red Bull Cartoon ad, so the Xbox One will switch to Felix Baumgartner jumping out of the sky. The Xbox One can increase the specificity of ad delivery in astounding levels. Here’s my mockup of how that may work:
The Xbox One can understand more than just your attention level; it can figure out which part of the screen you are paying the most attention to. Although, such accuracy cannot be obtained without acquiring some user generated data first, Microsoft already filed a patent for gaze tracking technology.
As they refine their eye-tracking algorithms, Microsoft will know what portion of the screen you are paying the most attention to. Are you looking at the front end of a car or its fascia on the the manufacturer’s website? Does the new brand color catch your attention? What is your emotional reaction to it? They can develop attention maps like MOAT and help advertisers fine tune their content.
Here’s an attention heat map from MOAT:
How will XBox One users benefit?
More relevant content.
Better targeting for advertisers means more relevant ad content for Xbox One users. Being able to gauge users reaction to games, TV shows, movies, and websites Microsoft can provide media content that is emotionally appealing to you, more accurately than anything else can(it might know you more than you know yourself) If you laughed through an entire episode of Seinfeld, the Xbox One will recognize that and recommend shows that are similar.
What does this mean for the search landscape?
Microsoft can now serve content that is more relevant to users whether it is ads, media suggestions or better search results on Bing. Given the scope of data and their affiliation with users, Microsoft can make Bing more personal, and more intuitive than Google.
But it isn’t checkmate yet. Google Glasses provides content to the users, and has to be connected to a cell phone to be usable, for now. I would like to see how they use that for customer insight. Will Microsoft’s new search edge drive Google to integrate with household technology?