Extended reality and mobile advertising: how immersive technology is being reclaimed by non-gaming apps

In 2020, the virtual world played a bigger role in our lives than ever before

It wasn’t just the virtual business meetings, virtual happy hours, and virtual events, it was also billions of people around the world using mobile apps every day. As we enter 2021, experts predict that adult smartphone users will be spending 4 hours a day on their phones, with 88% of that time spent in mobile apps.

App developers and brands have taken notice of this trend, and are turning to extended reality technologies, like augmented or virtual reality, to boost engagement with mobile app users. In the digital age, attention spans seem to be getting shorter and shorter, with research by Think with Google revealing that brands have a mere 6-second window to capture the users’ attention. Understanding this, advertisers are looking for ways to make a striking first impression.

Immersive video makes an impact

Many people have developed ‘ad blindness’ towards traditional adverts, where they consciously or subconsciously ignore ads as a matter of course. Advertisers have been forced to become more creative, and video ads, which incorporate visuals, movement and sound, are a great way to grab user attention. App developers and brands have recognised the influence of this mixed reality format, drawing users into the digital space.

Immersive video is the next generation of video advertising, inviting consumers to actively engage with the mobile ads, rather than passively view or pass over them. Immersive experiences can prove a powerful tool in engaging users, and in turn, making a lasting impression with in-app advertisements. Interactivity and engagement are undeniably interlinked, and this is where immersive video comes into play for app developers and brands.

For example, following a game, an ad for Call of Duty Mobile appears. It plunges the player into the battlefield, as though they are ducking and diving between targets.

This method can be used to make a richer and more compelling experience for users, tapping into a deeper, more emotive response that’s linked to the physical interaction elicited in immersive video. Tools such as gyroscope or directional prompts, which match a user’s movement of their phone to movement in the on-screen virtual world, as well as ten-second looping video, can capture the users’ attention in a novel way, compelling the user to actively engage. The more engaged the user, the longer they are likely to interact with the brand, driving brand affinity as well as revenue.

The greater length of time also provides brands with more opportunity to tell a captivating story, with the user controlling how long they wish to view the ad. Immersive video technology is adaptable to the user, offering 360-degree videos which are spherical recordings with a view in every direction, that can be responsive to the device orientation. This optimises the experience for maximum visual and audio effect.

Success beyond gaming

Immersive video is an obvious fit for gaming apps, as its interactive nature is compatible with game play. However, there is also huge potential for brands and non-gaming apps to differentiate themselves from competitors when it comes to immersive video ads. For example, for Nike’s collaboration with Serena Williams, an immersive video ad could have taken the consumer into the

Nike London flagship store, experiencing the excitement of the launch and a close-up, 360-degree view of the trainers, amongst press and celebrities. Fashion brands in particular have embraced the virtual world, with Balenciaga using an immersive video game to take players to a secret rave, with game avatars dressed in its latest collection – suggesting a digital approach is the future to appeal to a wider and engaged audience.

Immersive video can provide an enormous creative advantage for brands seeking to effectively engage with their target audience in innovative ways. Even relative newcomers to in-app advertising are successfully adapting the technology to produce impactful, inventive creative that stands out in the crowd.

An interactive format with room to grow

As consumers continue to seek richer, deeper experiences, and in order to tap into the massive app-user audience, immersive reality will continue to evolve. New developments in the immersive video space are already underway, such as technology that allows the user to engage in a non-linear, 3D experience, enabling even fuller interactions and even more realistic experiences. The possibilities of immersive video are only limited by our imagination, and with the continuation of technological advances, immersive video looks to be an invaluable tool for brands, gaming and non-gaming apps, alike.

About the Author

Si Crowhurst is VP at Vungle Creative Labs. Vungle is the trusted guide for growth and engagement, transforming how people discover and experience apps. Developers partner with Vungle to monetize their apps through innovative in-app ad experiences that are inspired by insight and crafted with creativity. Advertisers depend on Vungle to reach, acquire, and retain high-value users worldwide.

Featured image: ©leungchopan