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Microsoft’s interactive Kinect ads: You are the commercial

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Monetizing motion control

Given the breakout success of Microsoft's Kinect voice and motion controller, it was only a matter of time before the ad weasels took an interest in the platform.

On Tuesday, Microsoft introduced NUads, which allows viewers to interact with ads in games, videos and the Xbox Dashboard via their Kinect controller.

That opens up all sorts of avenues for abuse targeted at advertisers and less than friendly feedback, of course, but in the ideal situation, users who are intrigued by a product or service could say something like, "Xbox Near Me" to learn where to buy the product -- even sending a map conveniently to your phone.

Other voice commands include "Xbox Tweet," letting you, well, tweet about a brand; "Xbox More," which sends additional information and perhaps a discount coupon to your email; and "Xbox Schedule," which sends a calendar reminder about an upcoming show to your cell phone (but doesn't schedule it to record - yet).

Users can also take part in polls, waving their hand in front of the console to select, say, their favorite pizza topping or whether they plan to see an upcoming film.

Microsoft is presenting NUads at the Cannes Lions advertising festival -- and the company is pretty excited about 'em.

"[This] will change television as we know it - forever," said Mark Kroese, general manager of Microsoft's advertising business group in a blog post. "NUads break down the barriers between consumers and content on the TV screen. NUads make traditional linear content-like a 30 second TV spot-irresistibly interactive."

There's all sorts of upside for the advertisers, but the bigger question is how gamers -- both casual and core -- will react to this. In-game ads have never really taken off, despite valiant efforts by Microsoft (which prominently featured products in Alan Wake) and THQ (which caught flack for doing the same in Homefront), among others.

Ultimately, gamer reaction may not matter. Advertisers go where ads work - and there's already evidence that games are the new goldmine. A Nielsen study last September of six EA Sports titles found that in-game ads for Gatorade boosted household dollars spent on the sports drink by 24 percent.


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