Why VR Ads Could Be the Next Playable Ad

Post By Hannah Downing

As I wrote in a previous post, playable ads are an ad format that has many benefits, especially when it comes to their high rate of retention and quality conversions. One of the many reasons this type of ad resonates so well with consumers is because they get to interact with the ad, which may be the reason why some companies are starting to look at the potential of a VR ad space.

Wired recently reported that Unity, a VR development company, announced Virtual Room, a new VR ad format that it plans to roll out later this year. Wired made a good point regarding Unity’s new product: it’ll likely be very expensive to create, as the VR ads and experiences that Unity describes are complex and aim for high quality.

However, the price of this new ad format may not be as much of a problem as some might think, as big-name companies will likely be willing to pay for ads in this format as it starts emerging along with the interest in VR and number of VR users overall.

If product companies, like Apple and Google, can get more people excited about VR and convince them to spend their money on VR products, then companies like Unity would surely start picking up business. This does not seem too impossible, as Statista reports the use of VR products, from tethered to standalone to screenless, is projected to reach almost 65 million users in 2020. On top of reaching a large audience, VR ads would likely do well with consumers because of the same reasons playable ads do so well with consumers—they’re interactive. Just as with playable ads, interactive VR ads could excite consumers and grab their full attention in a way that other advertising efforts struggle to achieve.

The type of ad format that Unity is hoping to create, as described by Wired, involves an interactive ad world or room that users would be a part of. This goal is ambitious, but also makes sense. Why settle for placing simple static ads or videos into a VR world when you can manipulate it to directly engage your audience?

VR ads would also likely have the same high retention and quality conversions that playable ads have, as much of what Unity described to Wired seemed to be opt-in ads, where users can choose whether or not to enter a doorway leading to the full ad space. While this tactic may seem less reliable to some, this approach is what has made playable ads so valuable, because those who do opt-in are more likely to stay engaged from the beginning to end, including converting and continuous in-app engagement.

As with playable ads, users will likely look forward to interacting with VR ads. TechCrunch’s Oren Cohen compared the anticipation and excitement of playable ads to Super Bowl ads—they’re enjoyable enough that users seek them out—and VR could see the same response.

However, developers and marketers will have to build trust with consumers, because trust is what not only keeps them coming back to Super Bowl and playable ads, but also what keeps their enthusiasm alive. Without trust, users might be cautious and less attentive.

Overall, VR has a place in the advertising world that offers great opportunities for both consumers and marketers, as long as the hype for VR continues and marketers work from the very beginning to build that trust. If these two things can be sorted out, VR may just become the new playable ad.

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