Looking back over the last five years I think it’s fair to say that the evolution of the creative experience on mobile devices has overall been underwhelming, to say the least. There have been many attempts to realise the rich experience available through the handsets native functionality, but for a variety of reasons many of the best efforts have simply been kicked into the long grass, amongst them, rich experiences often require additional software development kits or specific apps installed on a user’s phone to enjoy a continuous mobile journey. Other omnipresent considerations include bandwidth and loading times that often present an issue along with users simply giving up before then get to experience the creative. It’s also true that entrenched measurement frameworks are preventing more innovative engagements from becoming part of the mobile vernacular.  

Creative for the mobile industry has been developed along the same lines as the desktop evolution, with creative usually being repurposed from other channels and even with the more advanced HTML5 we are too often just producing a mobile version of the ATL campaign. Rich Media and 3D creative is more eye catching and brings small screen advertising to life. Whilst the current industry darling video is proving its effectiveness by telling a better story in delivering rich messaging that today’s mobile audience can relate more closely with, but in todays fragmented media landscape the mobile industry is still operating within constraints that limit our creativity.

So how does the mobile industry address this? If an audience are to appreciate and enjoy the effectiveness of mobile advertising, and the benefits it can offer brands, the importance of the mobile execution needs to be understood and treated as a standalone opportunity during the strategy and ideation stage and assigned as a high priority during planning and production meetings to ensure that mobile is front and centre of the customer experience and not a box ticking excursus on the media planner’s to-do list. 

With the focus of companies like Facebook and Samsung turning to VR, the mobile user could be on the verge of a brave new frontier in the world of limitless mobile advertising, and the mobile industry could have the potential to deliver a user experience without boundaries, where a user can lose themselves in a parallel advertising experience.

Let’s explore two different examples of how we could use creative ads in a VR environment; By placing advertising within VR games we can track a user’s attention whilst ‘in-game’ to gather insight on brand ads and sponsored brand experiences. If a user is interested in even looking at ads we can develop a real-time understanding of eyeballs on ads in a way never open to us before, in a frictionless experience that won’t interrupt a user’s enjoyment.

The progression of this opportunity could be to include a sponsored 360-degree capture of the content sequence that can be shared with a user’s contacts to develop the user base and promote the brand in question, moving the brand marketing sector onto new levels. 

In VR the new measurement standard is around hotspot and time in view using eyeball tracking algorithms but whilst all this sounds like a logical next step for companies wishing to occupy the next frontier in personal advertising, we could be falling short of the mark and again, as an industry, we could be missing an opportunity.

So if we took the brakes off completely and think how we could use VR to really invite users to enjoy limitless experiential advertising what could we achieve?  

In the world of VR-inspired advertising we should be looking to develop experiences that enable brands to place ads into the 360-degree VR environment that allow gamers to participate in, rather than watch them.

For instance, imagine that a user is engrossed and enjoying a 360-degree combat game when an indicator shows that getting inside a Red Bull delivery van located in the cityscape they are playing in will allow the user to experience a VR Red Bull experience and gain a boosted score.

Based on current 2D experiences most games won’t readily want to pause games, but if the new environment offered entry to another level in a way that piques VR gamers interest, we could very soon see VR gamers taking time out to select a winged decent in the Alps, and at the blink of an eye, click of a button becoming the pilot of the low-level adrenaline fueled ride across the peaks and valleys of the Alps. I can think of the start line here but it’s hard to imagine the finish line in terms of today's recognised call to actions.

There are many opportunities and many unanswered questions here, can we imagine how we would monetise this experience? What would the ultimate call to action be? and would users return to their game if the VR ad experience were better than the game it appeared in? amongst a few, but by exploring a word of advertising with no boundaries we could see how the audience wants us to answer the questions.  

This may all be defined as top of the funnel promotional activity, but in the world of VR users can actually fly all the way to the bottom and convert in the blink of an eye. Surely we should see if we can deliver this dream?


By Robert Andersen, head of mobile at ROAST


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