Microsoft touts Xbox ad potential at newfront

Madison Avenue was intrigued by Microsoft’s Digital Showcase but not by the lines and long, long presentation that appear to be a hallmark of the first Digital Newfronts.

The broadcast networks “can do this in one hour. They need three?” said one media buyer shifting in her seat after a second panel on digital video and Microsoft initiatives.

“Getting people in and starting on time are two things the networks are good at,” added another.

Microsoft event ran from 9 a.m. to noon. Also on the sked for Tuesday was AOL, while Yahoo, Google, Vevo, Alloy and the interactive divisions of Disney and NBCUniversal, among others, will present later this week and next.

Marketers are flocking to the events en masse, filling an auditorium and two overflow rooms in Microsoft’s midtown Gotham offices.

A parade of Microsoft execs walked the group through programming on its big portal MSN, NBC News and through a partnership with Fox Sports.

The company stressed the growing power of the Xbox as a forum for advertising. It announced ESPN and CBS Interactive properties GameSpot and Last fm, as well as Manga Entertainment and Muzu.TV as the latest entertainment partners on the new Xbox Live service launched last December.

“The future of TV is here today,” enthused Xbox Live general manager W. Ross Honey.

Programming highlights included “Last Night on TV,” “DV Guide,” “Today in the Park” and “Taste of Place” from MSN; “Coach Speak,” with Brian Billick, and “After Party,” with Jay Glazer, from Fox Sports; and “Today,” “Nightly News,” “Breaking News” and “The Rachel Maddow Show” from NBC News Digital.

But to woo the crowd, the content requires a lot of exposition about how advertisers can use it best, which is why the events take time. There were as many promo videos about how to use the platforms as there were actual shows.

The main message from Microsoft and its peers is that it can reach large numbers of consumers across multiple screens and applications in new, interactive ways.

“It’s interesting. I’m getting a lot of ideas. I’m already starting to think about how my clients can use this,” said one media buyer at the event.

Another agreed that it’s raising awareness of the company and what it can do, even if it will take some time to capture the dollars it wants from television.

“The networks have programming to show. It’s supply and demand,” he said.

Related: AOL unveils 10 channels, original programs

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