Google experimenting with new virtual reality ads that react to users’ eyes

The company has built a cube that swivels to attract your attention

Aatif Sulleyman
Thursday 29 June 2017 13:40 BST
You’ll be able to both launch and skip adverts with your eyes
You’ll be able to both launch and skip adverts with your eyes (Google Developers Blog)

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Google has started experimenting with new ad formats for virtual reality (VR).

The company, which makes the majority of its revenue from advertising, says it is doing so in order to help developers make money to fund their VR apps.

It’s revealed a cube format that reacts to your eyes, springing into life when you look at it.

In Google’s example demonstration, the ad cube appears as a 3D object inside an app, and tries to attract your attention by swivelling.

As soon as you look directly at it, it opens up a large window that automatically plays an advert.

Fortunately, you’ll be able to skip it – as you can on YouTube – by gazing at the ‘Close Ad’ key in the bottom right-hand corner of the player.

Doing so drags the video player back down into the cube, and brings up a call to action. In this case, a temporary pop-up prompting you to download an app.

“Developers and users have told us they want to avoid disruptive, hard-to-implement ad experiences in VR,” said Aayush Upadhyay and Neel Rao from Area 120, Google’s internal workshop for experimental ideas.

“Our work focuses on a few key principles – VR ad formats should be easy for developers to implement, native to VR, flexible enough to customize, and useful and non-intrusive for users.

“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.”

Google says this is what a native, mobile VR ad format “might” look like, and there’s every chance the company is working on several other visions.

Virtual reality is attracting more and more mainstream interest, and the company will need to get its ad formats right if it’s to monetise content as effectively as possible.

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