Microsoft quietly is trying to tap into the lucrative political ad market, where millions of dollars float around for the taking, typically snapped up by television, cable, radio and print, but now seemingly available to other formats, including the vendor's Xbox Live dashboard.
Is this the new political billboard?
Similar to most IT companies, Microsoft (MSFT) historically has kept much of its political activism below the surface and apart from its platforms and services, which means for the most part it has refrained from opening its product portfolio to political advertising. Until now.
Microsoft quietly is trying to tap into the lucrative political ad market, where millions of dollars float around for the taking, typically snapped up by television, cable, radio and print, but now seemingly available to other formats. In Microsoft’s case that means its Xbox Live, Skype, MSN and perhaps some of its other products and services may serve as suitable platforms for politicking, according to a Washington Post blog.
Is Windows or Office next as a political ad platform?
The vendor reportedly has offered up the Xbox Live platform for political ads, handing out promo materials at the recently concluded Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC)—an annual event for conservatives and a setting ripe for drumming up business. Microsoft is peddling the Xbox Live dashboard as an ad venue in a scheme that would enable ad sponsors to leverage Microsoft user IDs and other publicly available data to target specific demographic groups or congressional districts, the Post’s report said. Whatever cross-referencing a political campaign can do with its own email lists of voters, along with additional Microsoft data, could magnify the ad targeting even further.
For sure, you can expect Microsoft’s selling of its technology as a home for political ads will not confine itself to one political party and that it will move to curry favor with Democrats just as it has with conservatives.
Along those lines, Microsoft apparently is heavy-selling its ability to reach hot-button demographics such as Latinos, women and millennials. With politicians particularly interested in sending specific messages to specific groups, Microsoft’s technology could vault it into the forefront as a player for ad space, the report said.
In 2012, Xbox Live’s dashboard housed ads for President Obama’s campaign and some of his pitches have shown up on various games. In the last presidential election, candidate Mitt Romney was offered but declined Microsoft’s invitation.
Now Microsoft appears to be taking the effort to a different level.