In a world where AR/VR is widely adopted by the population, what will advertising look like?
Virtual reality devices and the metaverse will eventually overtake the telephone, television, and social media to become the dominant consumer device and gateway to the Internet. Getting to that point, however, will require some major technological advances in virtual reality, augmented reality, and the metaverse, the results of which could pave the way for new advertising opportunities and ways to measure performance. In addition, new rules, controls, and regulations are being developed to ensure a user- and privacy-centric future of advertising.
Our phones will be replaced by augmented reality
Over time, a single device, most likely a headset, that can combine virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) into one, extended reality (RX), will replace our current devices. In the same way that today we depend on smartphones, laptops and other devices for many things, we will depend on our XR glasses for almost everything.
Conveniently, with built-in eye tracking and gesture controls, the device will be indistinguishable from regular glasses, saving users the hassle of bulky headsets.
But the real difference between smartphones and XR devices is that everything will be an omnipresent 3D experience, which will also create new opportunities for advertising. Surfing the web will be like going to the park or hanging out at the mall.
Imagine you are walking down the street and you see someone wearing a very cool t-shirt. Your XR device will be able to show you the product label with all sorts of details about it, such as the brand, price, colors, and even the ability to buy it by simply looking at “add to cart” and blinking. And so a purchase is made in a literal blink.
Brands will have virtual venues that act as counterparts to their brick-and-mortar stores, where users can choose to visit virtually or physically while taking full advantage of the XR’s capabilities to shop for items, try on clothes, or even customize just about anything they can buy. .
We can already see brands experimenting with VR and AR today. Early in the pandemic, American Eagle used Snap’s AR technology to create a virtual pop-up store, allowing customers to browse clothing as if they were in the store, without leaving their rooms.
When the campaign ended, American Eagle sold more than $2 million worth of products, which doesn’t sound like much compared to the $1.3 billion in revenue they made in Q4 2020. But what’s amazing is that they were able to get 50 million impressions from Gen Z. And that’s just one example, there are other brands like Ralph Lauren, Vans, and Zenni Optical that are making use of VR/AR devices to reach audiences in creative and innovative ways.
Brands and advertisers in the metaverse will capture the attention of their target audiences by also using virtual experiences such as theme parks, curated events, and concerts and shows. In fact, Ariana Grande and Travis Scott held two virtual concerts in Fortnite. Travis Scott’s concert at Fornite brought him $20 million in merchandise sales, more than 10 times more than his best show on the tour, and nearly 40% of the tour’s total earnings. What was once a popular video game is quickly becoming a valid advertising platform.
Even typical car ads are going to evolve. Instead of just running video ads showcasing the car and its features, people will be able to actually test it out in the metaverse on race tracks and obstacle courses built by the brand and advertisers. These kinds of experiences wouldn’t be feasible in the real world, but in the metaverse, advertisers can create unique experiences.
As technology capabilities improve to handle larger virtual environments, people will be able to move seamlessly between virtual and physical environments. Imagine that instead of having to physically go to a store, office or factory, users could simply put their headset into VR mode and instantly visit the places they want.
New ways to measure advertising success with virtual reality devices
One of the really exciting things about advertising on RX is the myriad ways that advertisers and brands will measure the success of their campaigns. In a hyper-connected virtual reality environment, users will be able to interact with almost every part of an ad, giving advertisers new insights into the performance of their campaigns.
Instead of tracking users, brands and advertisers will be able to track ad interactions:
- Did people try the product or ad?
- Do people go to parts of an ad, and to which parts?
- Do people change the colors or design of the ad?
- How many views, clicks, or purchases resulted from an AR product tag?
Although the questions may seem strange now, XR devices with built-in eye tracking and gesture controls open up a world of metrics for advertisers to measure performance.
In addition to the new performance metrics, conversions such as online purchases or signups, click redirects, and other traditional KPIs will continue to provide meaningful insights into ad performance.
connected all day
Putting on and taking off our glasses will be the first and last thing we do when we get up and go to sleep. We will be connected all day. If one of the biggest challenges for brands and advertisers is reaching their target audience at the right time, in the right place, on the right device, how amazing would it be if consumers were now using the same device for almost everything? Fortunately, we are not very far from it.
However, for VR/AR to reach mainstream adoption, people must be able to switch from VR/AR without interruption.
The good news is that many tech companies are already working to create a seamless XR experience for consumers. Although the current RX landscape appears to be fragmented, organizations such as the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) are guiding media and digital advertising industry standards and terminology to enable systems and disparate platforms work together. This allows users to switch between VR/AR just like they do with apps or devices.
Although VR/AR/XR is still in its infancy, several tech companies are making huge strides in metaverse capabilities.
New advertising controls and regulations
Unlike most new media, the ad industry needs to tread carefully and react to consumer behaviors and preferences instead of overwhelming users with intrusive ads. Guided by laws and regulations, advertisers, brands, and ad tech companies are working together to create new industry-wide standards and solutions to ensure the new era of VR/AR advertising keeps an experience focused on privacy and at the same time easy to use.
New addressability solutions that do not rely on personal identifiers, such as The Trade Desk’s Unified ID 2.0 (UID2), LiveRamp’s RampID, and avatars, will enable brands and advertisers to reach their ideal target audience using any DSP , SSP and ad exchange while respecting privacy.
Contextual advertising tools
Contextual advertising tools will enhance the user experience by providing relevant and engaging ads. Natural language processing (NLP) allows AI to “hear” and “read” what is being said or displayed. Advertisers can then provide the AI with contextual information, which it can use to determine the best ad for each impression.
Soon, advertisers will use AI capabilities to create endless iterations of ads using brand-approved assets, thanks to Dynamic Creative Optimization (DCO). And with machine learning (ML) algorithms, the speed at which AI can not only create, but improve its own performance, will exceed human capabilities.
As VR/AR devices advance in capabilities and so does the metaverse, it is imperative that laws and regulations are created or updated to reflect their everyday uses. Over time, VR/AR devices and the metaverse will become extensions of our bodies and reality, so for people to adopt it into the mainstream, it’s vital that laws and regulations protect data and the privacy of individuals to the same extent as health and financial data.
But how do we know that change is happening and that it is more than just buzzwords? Laws and regulations already exist around the world to protect users, their privacy, and their data in today’s digital environments.
In the US, the California Consumer Protection Act (CCPA) gives California residents more control over their data, which has inspired other states to propose similar laws. In the EU, the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) has been put in place to ensure that user data is properly protected, that users can choose to accept or reject data, and that additional safeguards are put in place when data is collected. transfer data outside the EU. And Canada’s anti-spam laws (CAN-SPAM) prevent users from being spammed with ads.
The virtual age of advertising
Going from one VR/AR experience to another and accessing the metaverse throughout the day, wearing nothing but the headset, will become the only device people use. And that’s going to create some really exciting and creative advertising opportunities. In the meantime, advertisers will get many new ways to measure campaign performance that are truly indicative of their success.
It sounds like science fiction, but for it to become reality, the ad industry and tech companies will have to develop new standards to seamlessly connect platforms. Furthermore, for VR/AR devices and the metaverse to reach mainstream adoption, it is mandatory to ensure the protection of people’s privacy and data with strong laws and regulations.