Microsoft to target political ads on Xbox Live using player data

Giuseppe Macri Tech Editor
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Microsoft has begun using Xbox Live player data to build a platform for selling targeted political ads on the console’s popular online video game community.

With highly contested 2014 congressional midterm elections just months away, Microsoft is trying to persuade politicians to buy targeted ads that would appear on XBox Live’s dashboard, MSN, Skype and other platforms, The Washington Post reports.

The ads could target specific, selectable groups of Xbox Live users based on demographic information compiled by Microsoft from data included in players’ “gamertag” user profiles. Microsoft representatives gave out promotional materials discussing the opportunity at the annual conservative political action conference in Washington, D.C. Thursday.

Political campaigns would have the ability to target users all the way down to their specific congressional districts using Microsoft’s program, and even bring in their own lists of specific voter’s email addresses that the company could search and match up against their existing databases of customer accounts. Characteristics including income level, housing type, age and ethnicity are also included.

Xbox Live hosts some 25 million subscribers representing high percentages of some of the most contested key demographics in elections, including 40 percent that are married, 50 percent that have children, and 38 percent that are women.

As more political movements, parties and campaigns focus on digital grassroots data-based marketing machines — like the one that powered Barack Obama to the presidency twice over highly lucrative campaign opposition — resources and programs like Microsoft’s will only grow in demand and influence.

President Obama’s 2012 presidential campaign advertised both on Xbox Live and within video games themselves, while Republican Mitt Romney’s campaign opted out of both.

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