Microsoft may be shopping your Xbox Live data for targeted political ads

Election season is coming up on us, and while some of us find that fascinating, many others just want to escape from the back and forth of political jabs and advertisements by turning to our gaming consoles. But if Microsoft has their way, your Xbox will no longer be an oasis from the politics.

According to the Washington Post, Microsoft was working CPAC, the yearly meeting of conservatives, pushing the idea of using Xbox Live gamertags and public information to build a demographic database to use for targeted political ads on your dashboard, as well as in Skype and MSN.

Despite the classic image of a gamer being a nerdy white teenage boy in his mom’s basement, the gaming community is a melting pot of men, women, boys and girls of all ages, races, and socio-economic standings. A surprising thirty-eight percent of Xbox live members are women, a highly-targeted political demographic, while even more are married and/or have kids.

Microsoft is no stranger to this kind of thing. They have made similar strides on their other platforms, like MSN. They have even mixed politics into the realm of Xbox before, inviting both President Barack Obama and presidential hopeful Mitt Romney to advertise there and they even streamed the debates with interactive polling. However, for some reason, the thought of them gathering information and funneling political ads into Xbox may seem a bit shady.

After all, it’s Microsoft who has been trying to prevent people from getting “Scroogled” by having their emails parsed and data-mined by Gmail by switching to Are your gamertags and Xbox Live habits any less sacred to users? Or is getting people involved in their political system, different?

Regardless, one of Microsoft’s initiatives with Xbox One was to take the Xbox name from gaming to all-around entertainment center. And by making it your one-stop place for all things media, they now have a captive audience for marketing.  That potentially means big bucks from salivating politicians looking to gain whatever edge they can.

So what do you think of the idea of Microsoft using your Xbox Live data to sell political ads? Is it shrewd business, or sleazy dealings?

Source: The Washington Post

Seth Brodeur