- Google launched a standalone website for its internal startup incubator program Area 120, which includes a demo for Advr — a project for running ads in virtual reality (VR), according to a report in TechCrunch.
- The Advr experiment allows for video ads to run in 3-D and VR environments through a new, cube-like format. The project was announced in a Google Developers Blog post. Advr was based on several key principles including being easy for developers to implement, native to VR, customizable and useful and non-intrusive for users.
- When users tap the cube or look at it for a few seconds, it expands to open a video player that can easily be closed, Aayush Upadhyay and Neel Rao, Area 120, detailed in the post. They noted that both developers and users have expressed wanting to avoid disruptive and hard-to-implement ad experiences for VR.
Google has often been at the top of the conversation in regards to VR R&D and adoption, and also offers one of the most well-known — and cost-friendly — offerings via its Cardboard app and simple headgear. The tech giant also released a more advanced, mobile-ready Daydream View headset last year. While some marketers have built VR or 360-degree video experiences, actual advertisements and especially formats native to the immersive mediums are rare, mostly because it's never been particularly clear what they would look like.
Advr appears very much an experiment but shows how marketers might more naturally integrate video spots and things like app installs into existing VR media in a highly interactive manner. Interest in VR has appeared to cool off a little, however, or at least be supplanted by growing buzz around its high-tech cousin augmented reality (AR), now a focus for digital giants including Facebook and Apple.
Google figuring out a simple, native VR advertising solution could respark interest from brands, but barriers to VR consumer adoption might persist, including that hardware for the technology is often expensive and unwieldy.