Google today is more formally taking the wraps off its internal incubator, Area 120, with the launch of a dedicated website, alongside the launch of one of the program’s more interesting projects to date: a way to advertise within VR. The new experiment, which is simply called Advr, involves a cube-like ad format which allows video ads to run in a 3D/VR environment.
Area 120 was launched at Google in March, 2016, as a way to retain entrepreneurial-minded talent at the company, as well as give teams the ability to test new ideas that could eventually become Google products, or be integrated with existing products.
Google’s Area 120 works a lot like a startup accelerator inside the company. Employees apply to the program during a set period, then Google selects a handful of teams to join. Each “class,” so to speak, has roughly 15 teams who work to prove out their ideas over the course of the next six months. During this time, the employees no longer work their day jobs – they exclusively focus on their Area 120 projects instead.
Advr: Video Advertising in VR
The new project is an experiment focused on figuring out if video ads could work in VR, and if so, how they would function.The team has developed a plug-in for Unity that can show ads in VR environments. Explains the post, developers aren’t interested in disruptive or hard-to-implement ad experiences in VR, which is how the Advr team came up with the idea for a simple cube.
The goal is to enable this functionality across a variety of VR platforms, including Google’s own Daydream, Cardboard, and Samsung’s Gear VR, for starters.
Advr has already begun running tests with some VR game developers, but Google isn’t disclosing which ones. It is today inviting other VR developers to apply to try out the ad format through an invite-only program that will provide access to the early-stage SDK for Advr.