In-game advertisement (IGA) is a pretty divisive issue; on one hand it provides needed incentive to developers who otherwise wouldn’t have the funds, on the other hand its … advertisement, something most people try to avoid on principle. Now that virtual reality is coming to a wider audience, it seems the medium is mature enough to open the conversation about funding games with ads, something HTC is letting developers enable in a big way with their newly announced VR Ad Service—and VR ads are different. Very different.
Launched today at 2017 VIVE Ecosystem Conference, a new HTC event centered on the future of the Vive platform, the VR Ad Service will make it easier for developers to integrate a number of ad styles into their games hosted on Viveport. Viveport is the company’s digital distribution platform intended for both at-home service and the ever-growing out-of-home arcade market proliferating across China.
The new program offers a number of ad styles that can play on both PC and a still unnamed HTC mobile VR headset. These include loading scene banners, big screen video, and both 2D and 3D in-app placement advertisements. A full list is available on the Vive developer site.
The VR Ad Service is an opt-in program, so only developers that wish to include ads can do so, however HTC says that by opting in “all of your free apps would be automatically put on the list which can be used to integrate VR Ads.”
But because of VR’s integrated head tracking technology, gaining revenue from ads is going to be a bit different. People actually have to look at the ads.
“Ads that appear in immersive VR environments can not only provide more effective impressions, they can also track whether the users have viewed them or have turned away their gaze,” writes HTC on the VR Ad Service site. “Accordingly, the multiplied effect of effective impressions and verified viewings will bring you higher advertising revenue!”
While in-game VR ads tracking your very gaze may sound like something out of a Neal Stephenson novel, it’s really a double-sided coin. By integrating more data points into the equation, advertisers can better determine what ads are actually relevant to you, so the likelihood of you seeing ‘dumb ads’ or ones cast out to the general public, decreases. The same theory applies to in-game analytics like Aldin Dynamics’ Ghostline tool used in Waltz of the Wizard which revealed some interesting information about what users did in the space, for how long, and what they found most interesting.
“Compared to ordinary Ad impressions, Ads that are seen by users in an immersive VR environment can not only meet the user’s needs by means of precise re-targeting, but can also be detected if they are viewed effectively by users. Therefore, promotion of your applications would have much more effective impression, which not only arouses the attention of potential users and enhance brand image, but further attracts interested users directly to download your apps in the VR environment!”
Vive’s VR Ad Service was announced alongside the news that the company will be an exclusive partner for all VR content related to upcoming film Ready Player One and a new HTC-led initiative called International VR Research Institute (IVRI), which has struck partnership with Shenzhen’s local government in order to “make Shenzhen a global center for VR research, development, and applications.”