ARTICLE BY ROBIN SANDERS

Late in June, Google revealed initial plans to bring online ads into the virtual experience. Currently, the project is umbrella-ed under Google’s Area 120 division, a workshop designed to quickly test the performance of new product ideas in-house. Google’s visual prototype shows ads represented on the sides of virtual cubes, allowing users to flip through the six sides and select animations that interest them.

In recent years, technology has dominated the livelihood for many professionals, with advertising already drawing a significant amount of revenue to companies like Google. Online ads also provide a support incentive for developers, who could eventually fund VR apps through advertisements in the VR space.

With the advent of data gathering from online customer activity, the world of brand and product promotion has become more targeted and tailored to specific needs. Product placement in VR videos and games could mean the evolution of mobile and desktop ads. Coca-Cola, for example, released a VR sleigh ride in December 2015 that immersed viewers in a winter wonderland experience visually decorated with Coca-Cola branding every degree of the 360-degree video. Such opportunities can have a much larger viewer impression than current ads, which garner the attention of viewers through increasingly extreme attempts at brand recognition.

Such immersive experiences bring a new element to experiential marketing. Immersv, a VR marketing platform company, has demonstrated that engagement with VR ads is much higher than similar promotions existing on mobile or desktop. Traditional advertising is measured through click-through, interaction, and conversion rates. Tested advertisements performed 30% higher when viewed through VR as opposed to industry averages for mobile and desktop, which generally see less than 1% engagement. Not only are customers viewing VR ads with a higher frequency, but they are staying engaged for longer as well. Video completion rates, for example, are well over 80% and result in a higher percentage of conversion, which is when the user successfully engages with CTA marketing.

As with any platform, VR advertisements depends on the integration of VR in the consumer industry. With VR being extremely untested but fast-growing, established corporations are creating cross-platform content, marking the advent of transitioning platforms.

Jaguar, for example, commissioned an immersive video to promote their sponsorship with Wimbledon, and are bridging the desktop and VR platforms through videos viewable both through a Google Cardboard or Samsung Gear headset and a desktop computer. Airlines like Etihad Airways have created promotional VR films where viewers can experience a first-class seat while traveling between Abu Dhabi and New York. Even the Whitehouse used a 360 video for Michelle Obama’s initiative to bring attention to healthy eating and exercise.

With more directed purpose being placed on advertisements, VR advertising stands to bring engagement and quality of experience to the next level. Through continued marketing efforts, companies can hope to create lasting campaigns that will have an impression on consumers.