Google is experimenting with a new type of virtual reality ad that isn’t terrible

Google is showcasing its first ever cube-shaped advertisement.

The new virtual reality ad format is a three-dimensional shape that will open a video player when tapped or gazed at for a few seconds.

It’s not an official product at this point, but rather a mock-up of what a simple non-intrusive ad might look like in a VR environment. The project, called Advr, was conceived within Area 120, Google’s internal incubator for experimental ideas and far-out concepts.

Google engineers said in a blog post that they had set out to make something simple and minimally disruptivethe two biggest priorities they’d heard from advertisers and developers.

“VR ad formats should be easy for developers to implement, native to VR, flexible enough to customize, and useful and non-intrusive for users,” two Google developers wrote in the post.

Below is a GIF of how it works.

Image: google

The advertising industry has been eyeing the possibilities of virtual reality for years now. Several Madison Avenue agencies have even built labs to experiment in the medium. But aside from a few gimmick-y campaigns, progress has been sluggish due to slower-than-expected consumer adoption and a tendency for ads to overwhelm users, most of whom may not be particularly excited by the prospect of being trapped in a commercial.

While it might seem overly simple, Google’s ad avoids some of the pitfalls that some other VR ads fall into. One could imagine the ad cubes placed inside the dimensions of, say, a VR game without hampering the overall experience much.

In addition to the video player, Google also demonstrates how the ad might contain other functions, like a dropdown menu of commands or an app download prompt.

The showcase comes as Google further fleshes out its Area 120 idea farm with a standalone site and a more formal agenda. The company launched the research program in March of last year.

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