In a recent survey of US agency executives done by Vibrant Media, it was discovered that nearly 90% of agencies find virtual reality (VR) compelling as a digital marketing channel. But, despite this positive perception, most haven’t purchased VR ads for their clients. Why? The primary obstacle: reach.
There’s no denying that the reach for ads in VR isn’t there yet. With less than 2 million VR systems in the market (Oculus Rift, Playstation VR, HTC Vive) it’s hard for any marketer to achieve scale. When you include the volume of mobile VR headsets (Samsung Gear, Google Daydream, Cardboard) the numbers do get better. There’s just shy of 100 million mobile VR headsets in the market globally – 88 mil of which are cardboard. However, of these, it’s believed that a large chunk can be attributed to brands giving them away for promotional purposes. As such, their fate is similar to that of many other tchotchkes… they collect dust. And even though Google indicates there have been 160 million downloads of cardboard apps, many marketers and agencies question how many eyeballs they can truly reach with VR ads. So how can agencies and brands tap into the engaging and immersive power of virtual reality while the world waits for VR headset penetration to reach critical mass? The answer – 360 Virtual Reality ads.
What are 360VR Ads?
Think of it this way – virtually any of those ads you see in apps or on websites can be a 360VR ad. The big difference, of course, between most of the ads you see today and 360VR ads is that the creative of 360VR ads is comprised of 360 degree content. This content can be a 360 video or image or it can be a collection of videos and images that the user can access via interactive hotspots. It can also be a 360 degree environment made using the 2D assets many advertisers have today. 360VR ads can be display (mobile or desktop), video (instream or outstream) as well as native ad units. They can be just about any IAB compliant ad unit size too – billboard, skyscraper, medium rectangle, full page, half page,etc. 360VR ads can also easily convert to VR mode so those folks who do have a cardboard headset can fully immerse themselves if they desire.
More importantly, 360VR ads can be viewed on today’s devices because there’s no need for a VR headset. As long as you’re working with a very advanced and technology adept 360 & VR ad tech vendor, 360VR ads can be viewed on virtually any smartphone (Android and iOS), tablet or desktop either in browser or in app. This is no easy feat – especially when you consider the many obstacles that Apple puts in the way, making 360 video almost impossible to watch on Safari and other mobile browsers. (I say “almost impossible” because some, like Advrtas, have overcome this challenge!). Consequently, with 360VR ads reach is no longer issue.
What are VR Ads?
VR ads, in contrast, are ads that are placed inside of VR games, apps and experiences. We like to call them “in-VR” ads because you see the ad when you’re in VR. The user puts on a VR headset (Rift, Vive, PlaystationVR, Samsung GearVR, Google Daydream) and they are served ads before, during or after their VR experience. Some ads are more intrusive than others. For example, replicating the model that exists in mobile gaming, users can get more lives, power packs, move up a level etc. by watching an ad. Other ad placements are more organic consisting of brand messages or product placements that live in the background or environment of a game or experience. They too are engaging and highly immersive but given today’s VR headset penetration, the reach simply isn’t there.
360VR Ads are the Bridge to Tomorrow’s Ads
360VR ads enable agencies and the brands they represent to tap into the new and compelling marketing channel of VR today! As such, 360VR ads are the bridge to VR ads. They help familiarize the market with 360 and VR content and create a thirst to experience and see more. Furthermore, 360VR ads are also proving to be much more effective than most of the digital ads in the market today. Brands are seeing higher engagement, longer view times, increased brand affinity, content recall, brand recall, dwell time, higher conversions etc.
Armed with the knowledge that 360VR ads are both effective and have reach, it’s only a matter of time before we’ll see more agencies and the brands they represent integrating these engaging ads into their digital marketing campaigns.
Want to learn more about the effectiveness of 360VR ads? Download this FREE 360VR case study.
Also published on Medium.