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Microsoft Nuads

The traditional television commercials that play between programs on a TV set are long overdue for an upgrade, which Microsoft is more than happy to provide.

The technology giant announced today it will begin selling advertising units for its interactive NUads ad product on Xbox Live. Unlike traditional TV commercials, NUads will use the Kinect’s motion sensing technology to help boost audience engagement. VentureBeat previously praised NUads as a potential savior for the stagnant TV ad industry, and now we’re finally getting a closer look at it.

Basically, the 30 seconds you typically spend staring haplessly into space while a Tide video plays in the background will hopefully be replaced with you responding to questions or waving your hands while viewing a NUads commercial.


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For instance, Toyota is running a NUads spot that’s similar to the commercial it ran during the Super Bowl, except with an added layer of interactivity. Viewers will be presented with a set of choices for what they’d like to see “reinvented” by the automaker, which they can then select by speaking to the TV set (technically the Kinect microphones). Another example would be Axe body spray-maker Unilever’s NUads spot to promote its new Lynx product, which gives viewers the option of choosing between using the “Lynx effect” or not by either speaking or gesturing with their hands in a certain direction.

“We’re keeping it very simple with the first set of NUads,” said General Manager of Xbox Entertainment and Advertising Ross Honey in an interview with VentureBeat. “We want mom to be able to figure it out without getting confused, even thought NUads has the potential to add many interactive elements to advertising.”

Admittedly, every NUads commercial isn’t going to compel you to participate — much like I ignore the survey questions in Hulu when they ask me to select what I look for when buying a color-safe hair conditioner. In the event that this happens, you can just wait until 30 seconds have passed before resuming your program. And because Microsoft is aware of this possibility, it’s able to build in visual stimuli to make the commercial’s effectiveness comparable to regular commercials. But I feel most people will probably chose to do something rather than nothing — and that makes the ad message more engaging.

Another thing NUads has that their boring, lifeless TV commercial counterparts don’t is a level of real-time feedback. NUads clients will be able to see the level of engagement from viewers, how they responded, and more. To do the same thing with traditional TV would likely mean putting a crowd of strangers into a room to view the same commercial and documenting their estimated reaction.

The NUads will make their official debut this fall and play on several of the media apps available via Xbox Live, such as MSNBC, ESPN, Today, GameSpot,, and more. In addition to Toyota and Unilevel, Samsung Mobile is also among the first batch of NUads clients.


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