Microsoft is using your data to target political ads on Xbox Live

Microsoft is trying to convince politicians to take out targeted ads on Xbox Live, Skype, MSN and other company platforms as midterm elections begin heating up around the country. To plug the idea, Microsoft officials handed out promotional materials Thursday at CPAC, the annual conference for conservatives.

It's the latest move by tech companies to seize a piece of the lucrative political ad market. The ads, which would appear on the Xbox Live dashboard and other Microsoft products, combine Microsoft user IDs and other public data to build a profile of Xbox users. Campaigns can then blast ads to selected demographic categories, or to specific congressional districts. And if the campaign brings its own list of voter e-mail addresses, Microsoft can match the additional data with individual customer accounts for even more accurate voter targeting.

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KrisButtar1658d ago (Edited 1658d ago )

"Forty percent are married, and more than half have children"

How would Microsoft know that info? Even through multiple Gamertags on a single console, they can't come to that conclusion.

Edit: spelling

HighResHero1658d ago

A lot more data is gathered than people like to admit, even though they even agree to it many times.

Then there's this from the article:

"user IDs and other public data"

Should be interesting to see how people feel about this. :D

nategrigs1658d ago

This type of thing is exactly why I have yet to buy an xbone. I have always believed that the Kinect was included to gather information for MS to sell. I know it sounds paranoid, but I haven't seen anything to convince me otherwise.

Ron_Danger1657d ago

I'm the production manager at a printing company and we specialize in political marketing (we're crazy busy right now) and this kind of thing isn't all that unusual. When we put out political mail, we are able to target very specific people. We are able to (for example) send a piece of republican propaganda to anyone between the ages of 25-27 who have voted mainly republican (over 55% of the time) in the past and has children. That's just an example of what we can filter. 5 years ago we started creating Facebook accounts for candidates and have sent out blast messages to voters. And, since the cats out of the bag, we've been asked by a few younger Democratic candidates this year if it was possible to display adds on PSN and the XBox Marketplace. Since that type of thing is more of a national situation, we tell them no, but for the right price we could.

LeCreuset1657d ago

Ron, how would you know if someone voted mainly Republican? I assume they would have had to volunteer that information at some point, correct?

Ron_Danger1657d ago


Despite what a lot of people think, anyone with a drivers license, credit card, or pays income/ property tax is in a national database that is shared with the US postal service. Anytime you vote (and now with electronic voting it's more accurate), you get placed in different catagories. If you check "all republican" or "all democrat" when you vote, your name gets put in a different spot on the database. There's also sections for if you vote for candidates of either party and even 3rd party.

The way that the email/ Xbox Live/ PSN adds work, is that when you vote, and you have a credit card in the database, they can link it to your email since almost everyone's email is linked to their credit card info (or tax return forms if you put your email on it).

Kingthrash3601657d ago (Edited 1657d ago )

^ psn ads?
yeah, no. i dont think psn has ads bro.
xbl gold and the ad business is a greed move imo.
when i pay for a service i dont want ads in them.
let alone someone peering into my living room collecting "data".
i pay 500 for them to sell my data, then $50 a year for the ads produced by the data they thank. you.

PONTIAC08G8GT1657d ago

I could careless. I get phone calls during election time telling me who I should vote for. I just ignore it.

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LazyMinion1658d ago

They probably get that info from Facebook

pompombrum1658d ago

It's not hard to get that sort of information when you have an always listening camera pointed at your living room 24/7

Death1657d ago

Blame social media. People give this information away on sites like facebook and twitter. No camera needed. This same information is sent back annually with our tax returns.

LeCreuset1657d ago


Yup. NSA-like spying is a problem, but those agencies collect so much data that you can just hide in plain site, unless they're gunning for you personally. With social media, people just do the job of these interested parties for them, by creating a public profile of themselves.

Kiwi661657d ago

Which doesn't even need to be plugged in so its not always on like you suggest

Hugodastrevas1658d ago

They have a camera on Kinect don't they? Did you believe that "it's not always on and watching" BS?

Volkama1657d ago

It's not all gathered by MS. There is a huge amount of information out there about each and every one of us, and it is up for sale.

I had to go through various security clearence checks for work recently, including an Experian credit check. It's shocking just how much information that can pull up on me.

Oh and there is no reference here to anything collected by Kinect, before anyone starts foaming at the mouth about being spied on. Oh... too late.

KrisButtar1657d ago

"It's not all gathered by MS."

Don't know how I missed that while trying to figure how my Gamertag gave them all this info.

Godmars2901657d ago

Are there survey questions when you first sign up for XBL? Otherwise credit card companies might be selling MS customer info so they can sell it to other companies.

KrisButtar1657d ago

I couldn't figure out how they could get a real name or real info from just a Gamertag to collect data but a credit card is needed for XBL and that gives them the real info.

Charybdis1657d ago (Edited 1657d ago )

Probably a survey, info about children could also be obtained from console profiles. There are also several companies (Nielsen etc) collecting and selling this kinda information and data, behind pay walls.

One of the well known and first political in-game advertisements was in burn-out (obama 2008). I believe these were static advertisements displayed on in-game bill boards. These could be changed when gaming online.

The way the advertising (data collection) works is about the same as with google. They can determine location with help of your ip and other information (mostly preferences) are a collection of data collected by Microsoft services, or simply bought from a third party.

I believe that if I remember correctly Microsoft bought an in-game advertising agency years ago, which has been integrated in their advertising platform. While sony used(s) a third party for their in-game advertisement needs.

Anon19741657d ago

And remember folks, you're paying Microsoft XBL subscription fees for the right to have them sell your data to political parties and target ads at you. Interestingly enough, Microsoft's pitch to advertisers is very similar to their pitch to consumers. "Xbox One: Your All-In-One Advertisement System"

Tell Microsoft enough. There was enough backlash to make them change their mind about their DRM policy and "always on" Kinect. Gamers need to be loud and clear that this isn't acceptable. If you take our money for your online service, at the very...very least you shouldn't be targeting us with anything that isn't gaming related.

cleft51657d ago

It's no surprise Microsoft is doing this, if people pay attention the writing is on the wall about Microsoft's shady policies.

Eddie201011657d ago (Edited 1657d ago )

I do not want to see political ads on my console, we are bombarded by them on TV and radio more than enough. Political ADs put fanboy wars to shame and frankly sicken me.

Not to mention that they collect enough information from just using the console to know someones political preference seems very unethical.

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MilkMan1658d ago

Please M$, sell off Xbone to Nintendo, focus on your OS and call it a day.

Kivespussi1658d ago

A bit over a year ago that would've sounded like a terrible idea. Now it would be better for both MS and consumers since MS keeps shooting itself in the foot over and over again...

WeAreLegion1658d ago

Hm... So, can they buy ad space? I can't imagine this will hurt anyone. Just normal advertising stuff.

T21657d ago

I'll tell you right now the last thing I want when gaming is to think about politics or world news or any other serious crap. totally ruins the feel of gaming for me.

Audiggity1657d ago


That is correct. We do this all day every day. The data is anonymous. They aren't collecting it from your Kinect units!!! That would be an insane invasion of privacy that would lead to the largest class action lawsuit on the planet.

They do this by connecting data points. Let's say your account is under a primary email address. If this email address is associated with your Google account, Facebook account, search history and other accounts, it can all be tied together using data aggregation.

There are even methods to correlate your online usage with offline activity depending on loyalty programs, digital offer redemption, signing up for various activities/events.

The resulting list is actually anonymous. It becomes a large pool of data used for ad targeting methods.

This has been done for decades! Where do you think direct marketing lists came from pre-internet? Companies don't do nationwide mailings very often... targeting has always been a factor.

SilentNegotiator1657d ago

"I can't imagine this will hurt anyone"

Except for the invasion of privacy, as well as the typical brainwashing and information-warping that comes with political advertisement.

mochachino1658d ago

MS did say Kinect is always listening...

Audiggity1657d ago

The Kinect listens to your commands... the NSA listens to everything.

Say hello to PRISM!