Free-to-play metaverse-esque Roblox has announced a test for in-game advertisements for both brands and creators. According to Roblox, its developers and creators earned over $500 million within Roblox last year. That’s a lot of opportunity for creators, brands, and players to enhance impact and experience (and sales).
Also announced were age guidelines to ensure the platform is growing up alongside its wide-ranging (but often young) user base, ensuring any content -- including the upcoming ads -- appropriately reach audiences.
Instead of creators only being able to purchase in-game banner ads or brands only creating solely custom experiences, the new immersive ads system will allow advertisers to reach players in the millions of “experiences” (i.e., games) on the Roblox platform. Brands will now be able to integrate into Roblox experiences via interactive billboards and other surfaces, as well as create “portal” tunnels between games, enabling them to take players from an experience to a branded experience within Roblox seamlessly.
Critically, brands will only be able to reach players ages 13 and up, and the platform says it will disclose when an experience contains ads. Creators will be able to develop 3D “in-experience” ads into their own “experiences” to earn a share of the ad revenue.
It will be interesting to see how both brands and creators find a balance between connecting through advertising with Roblox’s older consumers while the platform attempts to ensure only age-appropriate content is served to younger users.
While today’s versions of the metaverse (defined as a virtual world focused on driving social connection through interactive experiences) err on the side of gaming communities rather than what a metaverse most likely will eventually become, these communities provide insight into the future of metaverse advertising.
Immersive advertising as a concept has always been the goal for most brands, using various senses to create a feeling of connection between consumer and brand that cuts through the noise to engross the consumer. Content is critical for storytelling, and whether you’re a brand or creator, that content is the key to your success (or failure).
We will continue to see platforms evolve to both meet and (ideally) drive user adaption and experiences. We’re seeing platforms like Roblox attempt this with updates to its avatar and social features, such as more expressive avatars and the ability for a user’s camera to animate their avatar’s expression when talking to other players.
As platforms seek ways to entice creators to grow audiences through monetization offerings and profit-sharing programs, it’s important to understand that the quality of the content will determine a consumer’s interest, engagement, and repeated consumption.
As immersive advertising takes on new meaning and formats within the spaces we call metaverses today, these elements are key to a brand’s success: an understanding of the nuances of the communities that connect there, the intricacies of the technologies and tools enabling metaverse experiences, and an insight-driven strategy to deliver the experiences.