Equally important, those new ad experiences will require new metrics, to better measure effectiveness, viewability and other key issues facing the industry even in the new virtual reality, augmented reality and 360-degree video platforms.
The IAB Tech Lab and other industry leaders are developing ad metrics and definitions for the VR marketplace. Figuring those out is a foundational part of building a sustainable VR ecosystem funded in part by a healthy advertising sector.
One of those new metrics revolves around the concept of “gaze,” measuring where a consumer is looking while traversing an immersive world. Gaze is effectively an extension of advertising’s widely used “impression” metric. That has many new nuances across the full breadth of VR offerings -- with multi-sensory room scale VR on one end of the spectrum and monoscopic 360 video on the other.
Metrics are critically important to progressing VR and interactive experiences built in game engines offer the ability to measure the entire content experience. The VR industry must embrace and redefine the metrics through which we measure VR, not simply for advertising, but the entire experience.
Data-informed decisions can dictate improved VR experiences with increased likelihood to resonate with viewers.
Let’s measure VR ads based on a VIBE metric -- VIBE standing for Virtual Immersive Brand Experience. Once we unlock all the new qualitative engagement metrics immersive environment monitoring can offer, VR storytellers -- brands and publishers included -- can define success based on a positive VIBE score.
Now, how to arrive at a VIBE score is not something that can be configured overnight; the IAB and the broader industry study the various metrics captured in-headset. Starting with gaze, interaction and user path (including drop-off), we can begin to draw correlations between positive and negative ad experiences. We can then build weighted scores based around certain behavior types, duration of interaction and engagement, etc.
Countless considerations will need to be made, of course. Our industry will need to apply less weight to an ad which incentivizes a person to engage, as opposed to a naturally attracted gaze, where someone voluntarily draws his or her attention to a branded experience which offers no reward.
It also will be important to track how users share within common VR spaces.
Imagine the large communal spaces already found in massive multiplayer online games. Extend those experiences, involving dozens or hundreds of simultaneous users interacting socially, and think about the potential for interactive brand experiences there.
Discovery will be key. Are users in these communal spaces directing others to check out an ad? What are they saying and doing? How is that information shared?
It will be a new kind of social media, and measuring where others direct our gaze will be a key part of that. And developing a unifying industry metrics standard like VIBE will be imperative.
It’s not hard to imagine the advertising business potential. If you’re a publisher steward of good VIBEs, you’ll expect the same of your advertising partners, and you’ll also be able to charge premium dollars for it.