The smartphones of today are more powerful than ever. In the past 20 years, our phones have gone from functioning mainly as modes of sending and receiving communication to being a central hub for entertainment, information, and access to the rest of the world. The ultra-advanced technology of today’s smartphone has democratized XR, making these once exclusive experiences available to the masses. Download the Google app on your phone for free, and you can place a plethora of AR animals and world monuments into your own space, walk around them, and learn about them at the same time. Purchase a $6 cardboard VR headset from Amazon and delve into the endless 360 video content available on Youtube.
If you refer to my second article on the history of XR, you would recall that one of the first XR head-mounted displays was Ivan Sutherland’s Sword of Damocles, which, for reference, looked like this. It was a behemoth of a headset- definitely not something that the masses would pick up and want to use in their spare time. Our phones, however? They go with us everywhere and partake in nearly every little part of our lives, from waking us up in the morning, to telling us the daily news, to making purchases. They are a constant point of contact for us. Regardless of the type of day we are having, or where we are, chances are we will have contact with our phones. This makes them a huge touch point for brands looking to gain traction for their products, and now that extended reality is right at consumers’ fingertips, companies need to change the way that they engage with potential customers to stake their territory in this emerging space.
Online, there are so many sources of stimulation competing for attention that the traditional 2D advertising methods don’t work as effectively as they used to. The more immersed a viewer is, the more they get from the experience. It taps into their emotions, and consequently, their recollection of the ad- this helps a brand to better build an intentional image in connection to their products. 2D ads just aren’t able to bring this level of immersion to consumers as well as 3D content has proved it can. According to Admix, a London-based startup focused on XR monetization, early tests have shown that 3D ad engagement is “20 times higher than web ads” (Forbes). Admix’s CEO stated in his interview with Mobile Marketing Magazine that “3D ad product placements are the ultimate next-generation ad experience. Historically, advertising has adapted to each new media platform. Flat content will progressively be replaced by spatial content that we consume through headsets or glasses” (Mobile Marketing).
Verizon Media, a more established company, is also expanding its advertising efforts in the XR realm. Its Yahoo Moments ad canvas, which has already proven to be successful, started offering AR features starting as early as 2019. Verizon’s official New Release details the benefits of these features: “advertisers can now allow consumers to interact with, evaluate and test multiple products in their present 3D environment through their smartphone camera and screen” (Verizon).
The expansion of XR to smartphone devices has signified a new ad format for future-looking brands. People are increasingly looking to consume immersive, 360, three-dimensional content. Companies that want to keep up with the ever-changing landscape of advertising must learn to incorporate this medium into their ad campaigns going forward.