Oath, the Verizon-owned media company whose brands include AOL and Yahoo, introduced an augmented reality (AR) ad format as part of its push to deliver a “mobile-best and consumer-first” experience. Brands including Home Depot, Pottery Barn and Williams-Sonoma are currently testing out the immersive mobile ads, John DeVine, chief revenue officer at Oath, said in a blog post. The unit was designed by Oath's RYOT team and is powered by Yahoo Gemini.
Oath also unveiled three other kinds of mobile ad formats: native, utility and social. Intuit is testing out native ads that have a full-screen canvas and are available on the mobile apps for Yahoo Finance, Yahoo Sports, Yahoo Weather and HuffPost.
Utility ads let people save coupons and deals to their mobile wallet. Once saved, brands can later alert consumers about special deals with notifications on their mobile lock-screens. Socials ads are a richer form of social advertising that includes with real-time photos, videos and custom hashtags that can be displayed on Oath’s properties.
Oath said 70% of its audience visits its properties on mobile devices, making its new ad formats a key part of its strategy to boost sales. The AR format is the most immersive, as Oath’s example of Home Depot’s ads demonstrate. Smartphone users can virtually place products like artificial Christmas trees in their living rooms and view them from any angle to help decide whether make a purchase.
Following Williams-Sonoma's recent acquisition of AR startup Outward, the company decided to collaborate with Oath on the immersive ad unit, DeVine said in the blog post.
Oath’s new ad format comes as other media companies are embracing AR technology, which overlays digital images on a real background seen through a smartphone camera. Much of the focus to date has been around AR content marketing, but more clear-cut ad units are starting to show up as well. Snapchat last month started testing an AR format with luxury carmaker BMW. The ad showed a 3D version of the BMW X2 that let users view a car from different angles and customize its colors.
The most common use for AR and virtual reality (VR) technologies this year was expected to be in product showcasing in the retail segment, IDC forecast. The retail industry will invest $422 million in AR and VR this year. AR marketing applications got a major boost this year with Apple’s introduction of ARKit, Google’s rollout of ARCore and Facebook’s AR Studio to help developers create apps or ads with AR features.