Although it’s just an idea at this stage, Google’s test concept for VR ads already looks annoying and is eerily reminiscent of that Black Mirror episode.
If you don’t know what Area 120, I don’t blame you. It’s Google’s experimental program which helps small teams build new interesting products and ideas in an entrepreneurial environment. Founded back in March of 2016, it’s still so young that Google itself doesn’t even know how most of Area 120’s projects will pan out. Well, apparently one project in particular caught the eye of the search giant, and it’s Advr.
Google explains that VR developers have been looking for ways to make money in order to fund their VR applications, and given that this is Google we’re talking about, what could be better than inserting ads? Advr has been exploring ways to present ads in a way that’s not hard-to-implement or disruptive, and that’s how the ad cube was born. As you can see below, this potential format gives a cube to users, who can choose to engage with it:
By tapping on the cube or “gazing at it for a few seconds,” the 3D cube will open up a 2D video player with an ad. Thankfully, the ad shown in this demo has a “Close Ad” button, but who knows what will happen if and when this format is adapted by developers. My worry is that these cubes will end up becoming a distractive element within VR content and that the ads the cubes contain will insist on being watched to the end, not unlike what happens in Season 1 Episode 2 of the infamous Black Mirror.
Advr says that it wants to work with the developer community so that this potential format could be used across different VR platforms like Cardboard, Daydream, and Samsung Gear VR. If you are a VR developer and are interested in testing this cube format, you can apply for an early access program here. As VR developers, content, and platforms grow, VR ads only seem inevitable. After all, developers need to making a living off their products; I just hope Advr’s promise to create ad formats that are flexible, useful, and non-intrusive is honored, and respected by those who are looking to use them.
What are your thoughts on VR ads? How often do you use your VR device? Let us know by leaving a comment below.