Jun 29, 2017

Google's Area 120 Announces VR Ad Format Experiments

Google's Area 120, an experimental developer house for quick iteration of ideas, has announced an early access program for a new type of advertisement that can be used within virtual reality content.


The new ad manifests itself as a floating cube that a user can look at for a while, or interact with. From there, the cube opens up a video advertisement. The ad is accessible and eye-catching, but not intrusive, and is completely voluntary to view in its entirety. The only part of the ad that a user is guaranteed to see is the cube itself. Developers can apply to be part of the early access program and get their hands on the API, but Google has not stated when it will contact developers who qualify, whether there is a deadline for signups, or when the program may end.

The product comes in the form of a plugin for Unity, and the application to get it consists of only the most basic of information, along with a field where developers can link Google to their VR works. Since Google has not stated what criteria would qualify a developer to participate in the open test, it is safe to assume that candidates will be chosen by hand. The new ad form came about when Googlers in Area 120 heard from developers that there were issues with implementing unobtrusive advertisements in VR content. This idea is only the first to come to mind, but thanks to Area 120's policy on rapid iteration of ideas, this one is in live and open field testing while others are being dreamed up and worked on. A prototype was already produced, and is shown off in a GIF attached to Google's blog post about the new ad product.

This new form of advertising is far from the only thing that Area 120 is working on. The initiative gets its name from terms concerning company philosophy and workflow. Normally, Googlers are encouraged to spend 20% of their time on side projects and ideas, but at Area 120, they spend 100 percent of their time on such projects. The ideas are accelerated by funding and manpower from Google, and the whole point of the department is to get unique ideas off the ground quickly.

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by Daniel Fuller