In a world where AR/VR is widely adopted by the population, what would advertising look like?

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Virtual reality devices and metaverses will eventually take over the phone, television and social media to become the dominant consumer device and gateway to the Internet. However, to get there it will require some major technical developments in virtual reality, augmented reality and the metaverse, the results of which could open the way to new advertising opportunities and ways to measure performance. New standards, controls, and regulations are under development to ensure a privacy-focused, user-friendly advertising future.

Our phones will be replaced by an extended reality

Ultimately, one device, most likely glasses, that can combine virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) into a single device, extended reality (XR), will replace our current devices. In the same way that we currently rely on smartphones, laptops, and other devices for many things today, we will rely on our XR glasses for mostly everything.

Conveniently, with built-in eye tracking and gesture controls, the device will be indistinguishable from regular eyeglasses, saving users from wearing a bulky headset.

Virtual environments open up new advertising opportunities

But the real difference between smartphones and the XR is that everything will be a ubiquitous 3D experience, and it will also create new opportunities for advertising. Browsing the web would be like going to the park or hanging out at the mall.

Imagine that you are walking down the street and you see a person in a nice shirt. Your XR will be able to display a product tag with all kinds of details about it, like the brand, price, colors and even the ability to buy it just by looking at Add to Cart and blinking. And in this way, the purchase is made literally in the blink of an eye.

virtual commerce

Brands will have virtual locations that act as a counterpart to their brick-and-mortar stores, where users can choose to visit physically or virtually while taking full advantage of XR’s capabilities to purchase items, try on clothes, or even customize just about anything they can buy.

We can already see brands experimenting with virtual reality and augmented reality today. At the start of the pandemic, American Eagle used Snap’s AR augmented reality technology to create a virtual pop-up store, allowing customers to browse through clothes as if they were in the store without leaving their rooms.

When the campaign ended, American Eagle had sold more than $2 million in products, which doesn’t seem like much compared to its $1.3 billion in revenue generated in the fourth quarter of 2020. But surprisingly, it has managed to gain 50 million impressions from Gen Z. And that’s just one example, other brands like Ralph Loreno Vans, Another Zeny Optics are making use of VR/AR hardware to reach the masses in creative and innovative ways.

Virtual experiences

Brands and advertisers in the metaverse will capture the attention of their target audience using virtual experiences such as theme parks, curated events, concerts and shows as well. In fact, both Ariana Grande and Travis Scott have given virtual concerts in Fortnite. Travis Scott’s Fornite concert earned him $20 million in merchandise sales, more than 10 times his best show on tour, and nearly 40% of the tour’s total earnings. What was once a popular video game quickly became a valid advertising platform.

Even model car ads will evolve. Instead of just running video ads featuring the car and its features, people will actually get to test drive it in the metaverse on racetracks and obstacle courses created by the brand and advertisers. These types of experiences wouldn’t be feasible in the real world but in the metaverse, advertisers can create unique experiences.

As technology capabilities improve to handle larger virtual environments, people will be able to seamlessly move between virtual and physical environments. Imagine that instead of having to physically go to a store, office or factory, users can simply put their headset into VR mode, and instantly visit the sites they want.

New ways to measure advertising success using virtual reality devices

One of the really interesting aspects of XR Advertising is the sheer number of ways advertisers and brands will measure the success of their campaigns. In a hyper-connected virtual reality environment, users will be able to interact with nearly every part of an advertisement, giving advertisers new insights into their campaign performance.

Instead of tracking users, brands and advertisers will be able to track interactions with ads:

  • Have people tried the product or the ad?
  • Are people zooming in on parts of the ad and which parts of it?
  • Do people change the colors or design of the ad?
  • How many views, clicks, or purchases have been made from the AR product tag?

While the questions may seem strange now, the XR’s hardware with built-in eye tracking and gesture controls opens up a world of metrics for advertisers to benchmark against.

In addition to the new performance metrics, conversions such as purchases or online signups, click redirects, and other traditional KPIs will continue to provide useful insights into ad performance.

Online all day

Putting on and removing glasses will be the first and last thing we do when we wake up and go to sleep. We want to be connected all day. If one of the biggest challenges for brands and advertisers is getting to their target audience at the right time, in the right place, and on the right device, how cool would it be if consumers now used the same device for just about everything? Thank you, we’re not far from there already.

In order for VR/AR to reach mainstream adoption, people must be able to switch between VR/AR without interruption.

The good news is that several tech companies are already in the works to create a seamless XR experience for consumers. While the current XR landscape appears fragmented, organizations such as the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) are guiding advertising and digital media industry standards and terminology to allow different systems and platforms to work together. Thus, allowing users to switch between VR/AR as they would with apps or devices.

Although VR/AR/XR is still in its infancy, many tech companies are making huge advances in the capabilities of the metaverse.

New advertising rules and regulations

Contrary to what has happened with most new media, the advertising industry has to tread carefully and react to consumer behaviors and preferences rather than flooding users with invasive ads. Based on laws and regulations, advertisers, brands, and ad technology companies are working together to create new industry-wide standards and solutions to ensure the new era of VR/AR advertising maintains a privacy-centric yet easy-to-use experience.


Addressing solutions

New addressability solutions that do not rely on personal identifiers, such as Trade Desk’s Identifier 2.0 (UID2), LiveRamp’s RampID and avatars, will enable brands and advertisers to reach their ideal target audience using any DSP, SSP and ad exchange while maintaining privacy-compliant .

contextual advertising tools

Contextual advertising tools will improve the user experience by providing them with relevant and engaging ads. Natural Language Processing (NLP) allows AI to “hear” and “read” what is said or shown. Advertisers can then provide the AI ​​with contextual information, which the AI ​​can use to determine the best ad for each impression.

Soon, advertisers will use AI capabilities to create endless iterations of ads using brand-certified assets, thanks to Dynamic Creative Optimization (DCO). And by using Machine Learning (ML) algorithms, the speed with which AI can not only create but improve its performance will exceed human capabilities.


As VR/AR devices advance in capabilities as well as the metaverse, it is imperative that laws and regulations be created or updated to reflect their daily uses. Ultimately, VR/AR devices and the metaverse will become an extension of our bodies and reality, so for people to embrace it in the mainstream, it is essential that laws and regulations protect people’s data and privacy just as much as healthcare and financial data.

But how do we know that change is happening and that it is more than just buzzwords? There are already laws and regulations in place all over the world to protect users, their privacy, and their data in today’s digital environments.

In the US, the California Consumer Protection Act (CCPA) gives Californians greater control over their data, inspiring other states to propose similar laws. The EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) is set in place to ensure that user data is properly secured, that users can opt in or out, and that additional safeguards must be taken when transferring data outside the EU. Canada’s anti-spam laws (CAN-SPAM) also prevent users from sending advertisements to spam.

The virtual age of advertising

Switching between VR/AR experiences and accessing the metaverse throughout the day, using nothing but glasses, will become the only device people use. This will create some really exciting and creative advertising opportunities. In the meantime, advertisers will get many new ways to measure campaign performance that really indicate their success.

It sounds like science fiction, but for it to become a reality, new standards for seamlessly connecting platforms must be developed by the advertising industry and technology companies. Additionally, ensuring that people’s privacy and data are protected with strong laws and regulations is mandatory for VR/AR devices and the metaverse to reach mainstream adoption.

Benoit Skinazi is a CMO in thru.


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