The world is full of advertisements. Whether it’s the commercials you view on television, billboards you pass during your commute, or banner ads you see on your favorite websites, advertising is everywhere. Now, ads are coming to VR, and they are likely to change your experience significantly.
Advr, a project by Google, is designing mechanisms for advertisers to reach you when you’re in an immersive virtual environment, though using an approach similar to the in-app popups most users just assume avoid. Here’s what you need to know about this emerging technology before it hits a screen near you.
Avoiding a Disruptive Experience
Part of what attracts people to a VR experience is the level of immersion. Most users are looking to escape a bit of their day-to-day, and VR entertainment certainly has the ability to transport the viewer. However, ads interrupting the experience is a counterintuitive approach, more likely to annoy the user than convince them to try a product or service.
With that in mind, Google is working to create alternatives to the traditional popups. For example, the Advr project team is working on a cube scenario where users have the option to engage with the object to view a video ad. By interacting with the cube, a video would open to show content. Then, a quick close is all that’s needed to return to the VR experience.
The approach is friendly for developers, provides a high level of customization, and is non-intrusive to the viewer. However, it’s not clear whether the ads would be fully avoidable. Google makes a significant amount of revenue from ad delivery, so having an option where users can avoid every ad, every time might not appeal to advertisers looking to hook customers.
Some speculate that VR apps may give users the option to avoid apps using the popular freemium model. This approach allows any person to enjoy the app free of charge, but often with limited functionality and/or the requirement to view ads. Freemium apps already exist in the VR space, often putting certain functions or additional content behind a paywall. Extending the practice to ads would seem natural, especially since it is already widely used in the traditional smartphone app space.
Since VR ad technology is still in development, it’s challenging to say exactly where it will go. However, with the proliferation of ads throughout the rest of most entertainment-oriented experiences, it won’t be surprising to see these ads become more commonplace once technology giants like Google figure out how to integrate them successfully.
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