Immersive advertising isn’t just a game anymore.
That’s true on several levels since the drive to “immersion” in media intersects with several trends upending the advertising landscape. There’s the slow death of cookies and the rise of artificial intelligence, both of which are poised to reduce search-driven impressions. And as content owners and publishers view subscriptions as the best revenue driver, there’s a recognition for the need to give users a reason to spend more time on gaming sites.
The immersive ad format, as leveraged by the likes of Roblox and Snapchat, is typically known for infusing in-game marketing with multidimensional uses of virtual reality, augmented reality or mixed reality (or “spatial computing,” as Apple coined the term in its preview of its headset during the company’s development conference in early June).
And at a time when consumers have collectively said “enough!” to the bombardment of targeted ads, a proven ability to attract rather than pull people to your marketing messages appears to be the best road to take as digital ad growth slows.
For many brands and agencies, Roblox and Snapchat have been lighting the path to immersive experiences for years. The first real sign that major marketers were ready for the “full immersion” occurred when Walmart explored the metaverse with Roblox for six months last year. The immersive experience they collaborated on was dubbed Walmart Land, which lived inside the gaming platform’s virtual city-state, Livetopia.
The bellwether retailer put real dollars inside Livetopia which paid off, with the Roblox metropolis garnering 2.5 billion visits and more than 31,000 active users.
Meanwhile, Snapchat has been making steady advances in defining immersive advertising. At a time when TikTok’s stance as the primary social media attraction for younger consumers and the brands that want to reach them had begun to look increasingly precarious, Snapchat is now poised to recapture some of its early promise in this shifting landscape.
At the moment, Roblox is spearheading new forms of creativity by inspiring greater experimentation with immersive experiences by dominant advertisers.
Immersive grows up
While children’s media advocates criticized the commercial appeals to children manifest in the Walmart presence, Roblox has since shifted to attracting 17-to-24-year-olds. Roblox saw that group grow by 33% year over year, according to its February earnings report, which added that this demographic comprises 22% of all its users. (Overall, 55% of Roblox users are older than 13.)