Advertisers will soon be able to participate in a VR advertising system that only charges them if a player looks at their ad.
HTC’s VR Ad Service is an opt-in for developers, meaning that ads will not magically roll out across existing titles. However, for developers hoping to keep the costs of their VR games down, or perhaps even offer them for free, Ad Service could offer a feasible alternative revenue stream.
“Innovative VR ADs [offer] an unprecedented ad viewing experience, delivering immersive VR environment on cinema-scale screens, and offering interactive elements to further promote user engagement,” HTC said in a note to developers. “Therefore, VR Advertising is not simply an interruption, but a synonym of exceptional experience.
“Ads that appear in immersive VR environments can not only provide more effective impressions, they can also track whether the users have viewed them or have turned away their gaze. Accordingly, the multiplied effect of effective impressions and verified viewings will bring you higher advertising revenue.
“Compared to ordinary Ad impressions, Ads that are seen by users in a immersive VR environment can not only meet the user’s needs by means of precise re-targeting, but can also be detected if they are viewed effectively by users. Therefore, promotion of your applications would have much more effective impression, which not only arouses the attention of potential users and enhance brand image, but further attracts interested users directly to download your apps in the VR environment.”
How well the news will be received by the VR community remains to be seen, although typically the Vive is treated pretty favourably in online VR circles. And certainly, the perceived high price of some VR software is often unpopular, so theoretically anything that can help reduce it may well find fans.
Nonetheless, anything that combines user tracking with the gathering of commercial information always invites scepticism and dislike.