Google announced its new Daydream View virtual reality (VR) headset this month, and it has already captured the imagination of advertisers.
For those who missed the launch at Google’s I/O conference, Daydream is the sleeker v2 of Google Cardboard, the build-it-yourself headset made from… you guessed it, cardboard. Low-budget and easy to use, Cardboard laid the foundations for a mass VR audience across global markets and opened up an exceptional opportunity for advertisers.
Daydream takes the emerging technology of VR to the next level with a sleeker cloth design and the addition of a remote control to aid menu navigation, but it retains the prototype’s simplicity. All users need to do to be plunged into compelling pixelated action is slot their smartphone into the back of the headset and look through the eyeholes.
This immersive experience is the stuff of advertisers’ dreams as VR allows customers to try before they buy. Using existing mobile apps such as Play Movies, YouTube and Google Maps, a holiday company could, for example, invite prospective holidaymakers to take a virtual stroll along the beach. Once sold on the location, consumers could then explore the hotel room and enjoy a 360° view from the balcony. With so much high quality content in one place, and the ability to navigate smoothly between apps, VR could potentially create the next ‘walled garden’ for brands and will become a vital part of any digital strategy. The low-cost nature of Daydream will make VR advertising affordable for established brands and start-up businesses alike.
Google’s investment in Daydream is a promising signal for consumers too, demonstrating that better mobile user experiences are at the heart of its current strategy. Google is already poised to clear out old, inefficient advertising methods and has warned the ad tech industry that in January it will downrank sites that use interstitial advertising, which it perceives as “intrusive” on smaller screens. When it comes to mobile ad formats, 2017 will be a year of “out with the old, and in with the new” for ad tech.
The enduring strength of VR advertising remains to be seen, and depends on the willingness of advertisers to explore this new world. But even if uptake is driven by novelty-value alone, this dreamy new format is set to become a reality very soon.