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How the Mobile Ad Industry Is Using Virtual Reality
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There’s a reason a huge amount of attention is being placed on virtual reality. The immersive multimedia technology promises a new world of three-dimensional entertainment, one that is sure to engage and excite users on an entirely new level. With  technology increasingly cropping up - from headsets to glasses, from Google Cardboard to Twitter’s new virtual reality project - virtual reality is seeing a growing amount of investment and gaining an ever-larger slice of mainstream attention.

With the increasing amount of resources coming from all angles (both startups and big companies), one thing’s for sure, more virtual content is coming. But what does this mean for the advertising industry? With the massive opportunity for a new kind of storytelling also comes a new obstacle for app developers advertising their app. With both gaming and entertainment (arguably two of the biggest advertisement-heavy industries) expecting to be affected, below are 3 questions advertisers must ask themselves when approaching the virtual reality marketplace:

Are we bidding adieu to traditional advertising?

In this brave new world of immersive digital experiences, it’s unclear whether or not traditional advertising will be compromised in the face of virtual reality. With advancements in VR, advertisers must evaluate whether this platform will eventually completely overtake traditional advertising, or whether it will exist as only another channel next to mobile, web, and outdoor advertising.

By the end of this year, there will be over 6 million virtual reality users worldwide. While that’s a relatively tiny portion of the potential global market of connected consumers, virtual reality is clearly gaining traction, particularly in gaming, where it’s fast becoming the next logical step for the gaming world. With more time and money being invested into the immersive world of virtual reality and more users interested in the experience, VR is also becoming a growing focus for advertisers looking for the next big thing when it comes to connecting to their target audiences.  In order for VR to really take off as an advertising channel, however, the industry - from creative agencies to technology vendors - must keep up, providing ad experiences and media buying opportunities that are specifically tailored to this medium.

Is perfect viewability guaranteed?

With headsets over their eyes, virtual reality experiences demand a user’s full attention - something that laptops and phones cannot always achieve. It’s a compelling premise for marketers struggling with issues of viewability, fraud and banner blindness. With viewability almost guaranteed with VR, we’re likely to see the platform appeal to brands looking for high-impact, awareness-focused campaigns. Further, if advertisers can achieve 100% viewability on one platform, how will that impact metrics and pricing for other channels? It will also be interesting to see if more performance-oriented campaigns will run on VR as the medium evolves.

Will native dominate virtual reality?

Are native ads going to dominate virtual reality? With a much more immersive digital experience, advertisements may be better off taking a so-called backseat, subtly embedding themselves within a user’s virtual reality for more effective engagement. Just as native advertisements have taken off recently, gaining increasing dominance on mobile, will the native form of VR advertising (otherwise known as a new kind of product placement) become the dominant form?

At this point, it’s too early to tell exactly which type of advertising will dominate in virtual reality, with everything from more sophisticated versions of standard advertisements (such as a normal ad becoming 3D or interactive) to product placement appearing. While VR brings with it immense possibility, in order to leverage this opportunity companies must rise to the challenge to reimagine the future of ads and to integrate their brands and products into a user’s virtual reality environment.

As media consumption continues to shift, so too must the way we market our content. In order to adapt to this new and dynamic form of engagement, marketers should explore new ways to engage their audiences and prepare for massive changes (and potential) ahead in this unchartered space.

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