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As more people buy virtual reality hardware, advertising on those headsets is becoming more viable. And that’s where Vertebrae wants to step in and help out developers.

Vertebrae has rolled out the 1.0 version of its SDK that enables studios to drag and drop various types of ads into VR and AR worlds. While you might think that a pop-up commercial in your VR experience would distract you even more than they do on a computer, Vertebrae claims that it is building a number of products that won’t disrupt people’s immersion. This comes after the company raised $10 million in September.

In a statement, Vertebrae chief operating officer Marc Bennett claims that the company is “a sustainable alternative to the premium pay-for-play content distribution model.” Using Vertebrae’s tech, brands can connect with consumers in a way that is native to VR and is capable of telling stories. The company also claims this could enable more developers to release free content for VR that is instead supported by advertising revenues.

These ad spots would take a handful of forms. You could get an ad that activates as you gaze at something in a 3D world, you could get a pre-roll 360-degree video, or you could even find in-world product placement. For example, your virtual world’s refrigerator could have delicious-looking cans of Coca-Cola that give your character a boost.

“We’ve made it a priority to offer a range of immersive, native ways to tell stories in VR,” Vertebrae chief executive officer Vince Cacace. “Options range from simple 360 pre-roll ad formats to more complex in-VR product-placement options. Imagine engaging with a virtual product that, when opted into, seamlessly unlocks branded worlds that amplify the VR experience while articulating the brand message.”

Vertebrae is getting into this space early because compared to other ad-supported platforms, like TV or mobile games, VR has only a fraction of the users it needs to generate the revenues to make this concept work. But like many other companies, Cacace and Vertebrae are betting that VR and AR represent a major leap forward and will eventually be as popular as the iPhone.


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