Google is Getting Serious About Virtual Reality

When Google first released the Cardboard VR headset in 2014 it looked more like a toy than an actual Virtual Reality Headset.  But they continued to promote the product as a real VR solution partnering with several companies over the past year or so to legitimize the platform.

Now, Google has actually launched a new division dedicated to the format.  As Facebook and Microsoft gear up to bring their VR headsets to regular consumers Google is poised to catch up executing its new vision.  The incredible success of the practically free Android operating system has made it one of the most popular operating systems in the world across virtually all Internet enabled platforms and as a result, Google has seen their advertising opportunities soar!

Their approach to VR is likely to be “virtually”, pun intended, identical.  While others are building costly devices cardboard is about $5 and uses your existing smartphone.  This low cost enabled the NY Times to give away 1.3M units to their Sunday subscribers to try out their new VR content.

As an advertiser, VR is a new frontier that will allow a whole new platform and series opportunities. In addition to the Google Display Network eventually offering VR placement in Google Play applications, there is little doubt that YouTube will be a major publisher of VR content for Google.  As advertisers, the greatest advantage of VR is that ads can take up a person’s entire field of vision making it extremely valuable.  How valuable?  Goldman Sachs estimates that the VR software market will grow to over 35 billion over the next decade.

The opportunities in VR will be huge, and early adopters will reap the greatest benefits regardless of their budget.  For those of us that have been around digital advertising since dial up, I’d compare the effectiveness of this new platform to the equivalent of email marketing in 1997 when users read EVERY email in their inbox.