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Roblox: 3D advertising and branded experiences


Online gaming platform Roblox plans to launch 3D advertising on its virtual platform. The immersive ads will become part of the virtual experiences. It is expected that partnerships with Gucci, Spotify and others will develop from single events to a long-term presence on the platform.

With more than 58 million users coming every day and billions of hours spent on the Roblox platform, brand advertisers and creators are looking for innovative ways to reach the audience. "The brands we work with are fun and exciting. These are brands that a lot of our users want to engage with and interact with. So, we are creating a system where developers can put units in their experience. These can be portals, billboards or pictures. If you have that in your experience, ads will dynamically run on it," says Roblox founder and CEO David Baszucki in his keynote address at the Roblox Developer Conference (RDC) 2022.

Roblox is both a platform for gamers and creators. Some of them are individual developers, but the more professional games are made by game studios. The company has announced a wave of new funding for developers building the cutting edge of games on the platform. The idea of 3D advertising will help the company to diversify its revenue stream beyond in-game purchases, and eventually will provide developers with more funding options for games they create.

End of pre-roll video
Gone are the days of the pre-roll video on the gaming platform. "In don't know if there is anyone in the room who remembers pre-roll video on Roblox. We did the right thing and we got rid of that. That was a great day in Roblox history." The new ad experience will be immersive. Baszucki calls on the developers in the audience to come up with creative solutions that will not annoy users of the platform. It will be a gradual process. "We can do it gently, slowly and with quality. When we do these things at the time they don't seem as big as they are, but in two or three years this is going to be another way to help fund your studios." In a separate development, Roblox announced that users will soon be able to give their avatars facial expressions that mimic the player's own, as MIT Technology Review reports.

Gucci, Burberry, Spotify
In the past years Roblox has started partnerships with Gucci, Burberry, Spotify and others. "The growth here is amazing. Some of the newer brands are highlighting the opportunities in music, beauty and fashion," Baszucki recounts. But it is going to be different now. "In the old way you often had a big event. We are now talking about a future where there will be permanent presences of these brands on the platform. They will be bringing organic traffic to their experience, but they will also be figuring out ways to reliably get one or two million visitors a month. They will most likely be asking for the help of developers with immersive ads to do that. So, there is a wonderful complement between these brand permanent experiences and the ad units that developers put in their experience."

The games generally attract a young, tech savvy audience, but the average age is going up. It makes it more interesting for brands to take part. The fastest-growing demographic of users is 17- to 24-year-olds. "There are a lot of 17 and older. That segment is growing very quickly. So, for those of us that like to extrapolate it is a huge opportunity."

Completing transactions within the experience
At the Roblox conference Chief Product Officer Manuel Bronstein elaborates on the concept of immersive ads. "We are excited to work on this concept. These ads are native to 3D immersive experiences. They are fun, they should be interactive, they should be safe and respect people's privacy." Developers will get control where and how they want to place the ads. "Think about portals through which you can navigate from one experience to another. By tapping on a billboard, you can choose an item that you want to buy, try it on and complete the transaction without leaving the experience. Think about scenarios where brands embed content inside experiences. We have a mechanism to make that seamless and direct." The idea is that Roblox as a virtual world will mimic how real-world economies work. "It will bring that energy and that feature set into the platform."

For CEO David Baszucki Roblox is about inventing new forms of communication. "We started storytelling a long time ago around the campfire. We moved to books, invented photography, and created the movie format. But there is something about movies that we are all aware of and that is we can't jump into the movie and we can't do the movie with our friends. But you are telling stories on Roblox that we together are interacting with. We are participating in the next evolution of how we share and tell stories. It is interactive and it's something we do together."

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