If humanity’s ultimate goal is to make virtual reality indistinguishable from the real world, then we’re about to take a huge step forwards. Google is looking at ways to implement advertising in its DayDream and Cardboard VR headset apps. Soon you’ll get adverts wherever you look… just like in real life!
It’s unsurprising that it’s Google leading the charge. Despite the variety in the color and sizes of plates the company spins, its main actual money maker remains the prosaic bread and butter of internet advertising. But you don’t become one of the richest ad companies in the world if people hate your product, so with that in mind Google is aiming to make VR adverts relatively unobtrusive.
Here’s a concept from Google’s Area 120 lab. The advert is present in the scene in the form of a spinning cube at the bottom of the screen, and you’re free to ignore it. Should you decide you’re interested, just gaze longingly at it for a few seconds and it will expand into an all-singing, all-dancing advert. When you realize your mistake, just stare at the “close ad” button and it folds back up again.
“VR ad formats should be easy for developers to implement, native to VR, flexible enough to customize, and useful and non-intrusive for users,” explains Aayush Upadhyay and Neel Rao on the Google Developers blog.
“Our Area 120 team has seen some encouraging results with a few test partners, and would love to work with the developer community as this work evolves – across Cardboard (on Android and iOS), Daydream and Samsung Gear VR.”
While the idea of adverts becoming as ubiquitous in virtual worlds as they are in the real one is certainly an icky one, it is at least encouraging to see that Google isn’t being too heavy handed in their approach.
All the same, it’s hard not to channel Fry on this one. Just replace the word “dreams” with “Daydream” and he probably captures the public sentiment perfectly.