Roblox is releasing a new ad solution that will let marketers display 3D ads within the virtual worlds and games hosted on its platform, capitalizing on the growing interest of businesses in the metaverse.
The gaming platform is looking to fully launch its self-serve ad system sometime in 2019, and it aims to do so by testing new sorts of immersive adverts for select businesses in the coming months. Roblox has failed to disclose the specific parameters on which it would split ad money with the creators of the experiences and games in which the ads appear.
According to Roblox’s senior product director for monetization, Richard Sim, “we’re designing from the bottom up a new ad system that will give 3D immersive ad experiences.” However, we’d like to do it in a way that protects our consumers’ privacy without sacrificing innovation or user value.
Roblox is introducing a new advertising model in which static pictures can be placed anywhere in a given world, much like traditional billboards, or painted into structures. Another will act as portals, taking players away from Roblox and into an ad-supported branded environment of the sort the company has been working on with advertisers to create in its slice of the metaverse, or the interconnected web of virtual spaces populated by avatars and rendered in video game style graphics.
Two brands that have established substantial followings on Roblox through branded experiences—Vans and Warner Bros.—are participating in early testing of the portal advertisements.
Publicity on a grand scale
While some producers have signed one-off arrangements with companies for displays or product placement, Sim claims that the platform has not provided developers with a legitimate means of doing so at scale until now. Roblox, as a platform that relies heavily on UGC, has an incentive to help creators find ways to make money off of their creations.
He continued, “With immersive advertisements, it’s this method for us to democratize access to earnings by just allowing a developer to insert an ad unit into their experience.” They’ve shown a great deal of enthusiasm for exploring options for making brand presence felt within Roblox. This makes it possible to do so in a scalable and highly programmable fashion.
New ad forms will expand upon the ones presently available to developers on Roblox who want to draw attention to the experiences they’ve created.
According to Sim, the ad platform’s designers made an effort to make the displays look as natural as possible in the environments where they are put, and they also made the platform very easy to use for programmers by incorporating features like drag-and-drop support. Keeping in mind the universal shared experience ethos that supports the concept of the metaverse, Sim said, the company is also providing advertisers with some basic targeting settings.
You can put an image ad on the side of a building or a bus stop and “it’ll just deliver the correct creative to the right user at the right moment,” as Sim put it.
Data and brand protection
Roblox’s advertising system will function like a “walled garden,” according to Sim, meaning that visitors will never be directed away from the Roblox platform and onto, say, a static website. The company has also stated that it will not engage in the same sort of data collection and tracking practices as other social media sites.
While anyone can play Roblox, for the time being, only users who say they are 13 or older will see ads. This amounts to about half of Roblox’s 52 million DAUs.
Roblox will be testing safeguards in the coming months to prevent the kinds of content concerns that come with any platform that relies heavily on user-created media. There is the ongoing development of the company’s definition of impressions and metrics for picture ads in a 3D setting.
Sim predicted that moving forward, Roblox would investigate the new potential for in-game advertising using branded objects, such as a Spalding basketball in a sports game.
I imagine a future where our developers can “basically identify objects across their experience to make them brandable,” as Sim put it. Let’s say we’re playing a game of basketball on Roblox, where each player can choose between using a Spalding, Nike, or Adidas ball. And that applies to all of our different developers, no matter what their background is.
At its annual developer conference, which will be held on September 9-10 in San Francisco, Roblox wants to reveal more about its new advertising options.