16 October 2008

Courting the XBox360 Vote?

I may be showing my age here, but I think this is what "too much money" looks like.
Last week we noted unconfirmed sightings of an “Obama for President” billboard in the Xbox 360 racing game Burnout Paradise. Today we’re able to report that it is, in fact, an official advertisement placed by the senator’s campaign team.
It seems the Obama campaign is advertising in a number of videogames now. Cool, I guess. But just as I think the ROI doesn't justify purchasing an island in Second Life - basically you get an article in a web2.0 publication saying you're in SL, and little more - I'd like to know what the Obama campaign thinks it's getting for its money here.

What's the median age of an XBox360 user? Do they vote? Wouldn't this money be better spent on GOTV in Omaha? An ad buy in a swing state? Jet fuel for O-Force One? Better hairplugs for Joe Biden?

I'm one of social media and web2.0's biggest fans, but I want to see the numbers here.

However, Christopher Rice pointed me to a tech President piece that tries to explain it:
With users numbering in the millions, XBox Live certainly has the critical mass of active users to make such advertising attractive. In comparison, Second Life never had more than a few thousand active users at any given time. And thanks to their partnership with Rock the Vote, it's possible for any XBox Live user to actually start the registration process right on their XBox. As more states like California and Arizona pass laws allowing complete online voter registration, it's going to be possible to go from seeing one of these in-game ads to registering to vote before you put down the controller for the night.
So maybe gamers are a valuable constituency, though I'm still not sure. I do see some very significant value in the campaign's new tax-cut calculator widget. It's profoundly personal - enter some info and see how much money you'd save with the Obama tax plan versus the McCain tax plan. It speaks directly to the issue most on people's minds - how the economy affects them personally - and it offers the comparison. I'll bet it cost a fraction of the XBox ad buy to develop. They're leveraging their already huge online network to spread the word, and I'll bet they're pitching to mainstream media as well. Here it is.

SO SMART. Watch issue-advocacy groups copy this template again and again next year.

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