Virtual reality offers a way for content creators to completely immerse us within an environment, and in doing so, we can also be immersed in advertising. However, unlike normal ads on our computer monitors and TV screens, it's much easier to track what we're actually looking at in VR. HTC is turning that fact to its advantage.
The HTC Vive$799.99 at Amazon is one of the most popular VR headsets on the market today, and VR means a person's head is always being tracked as part of the system. HTC put these two facts together and realized they could be used to create a new VR advertising service, which takes into account what a user looks at.
According to Business Insider, HTC intends to promote its VR AD Service as a way of advertisers only paying for ads users definitely view. By tracking what each user looks at in a VR environment, HTC can say with 100 percent certainty if an ad has been seen. But not only that, it can also log how long an ad is stared at and feed this information back to advertisers.
For such a service to be successful it requires three key ingredients: advertisers, a large VR user base, and developers willing to place ads in their VR worlds. This should be an easy sell to advertisers based on the engagement tracking being offered. The user base for VR is growing, with Statista predicting there will be 90 million users this year and 171 million in 2018. Finally there's developers. With the abundance of ad-supported free-to-play titles in app stores today, it seems likely the same could happen for virtual reality, therefore opening the door to this new form of tracked advertising.
You could argue that advertising in virtual reality will be easier to accept for users. We walk around the real world surrounded by advertising each day, so creating a virtual world full of advertising may actually make for a more natural experience depending on the environment being depicted.
The news comes as HTC today announced a new monthly subscription for Vive VR apps. The Viveport Subscription service will launch on April 5 for $6.99 a month. Subscribers will be able to choose five titles "from an ever-growing library of curated content," and get unlimited access to the apps they choose, or switch up their selection every month. All apps in the subscription service are also available for sale, so this is a good way to try out apps before you decide to buy them.