Gannett Launches Weekly VR News And Ads Show

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Gannett Launches Weekly VR News And Ads Show

Gannett published the first episode of its weekly virtual reality news show “VRtually There” on Thursday, complete with a new virtual reality ad unit it’s calling the “cubemercial.” Car manufacturer Toyota is the first advertiser to make use of the ad format to promote its 2017 Camry model.
 
The “cubemercial” ad, which appears between editorial content in the 7-minute long “VRtually There” episode, places the viewer within a giant virtual room—hence, the “cube” name—with content featured on each of its walls. Viewers can turn their heads to view the content around them.
 
 
The Toyota Camry commercial, at 15 seconds long, depicts the car from different angles on each side of the cube, along with Toyota branding.
 
The Camry cubemercial will appear in the first two episodes of “VRtually There,” and other advertisers will feature in future episodes, a spokeswoman for Gannett’s USA Today Network said. Advertisers will be provided with various consumption metrics, and information about whether their ads were viewed with sound and in full “VR” as opposed to “360 video” mode on non-VR devices.
 
The company was pitching advertisers on the cubemercial idea during the Cannes Lions advertising festival in France earlier this year, in addition to other virtual reality capabilities.
 
In terms of editorial content, “VRtually There” promises to cover a range of topics including politics, sports, technology and finance. It’ll be published on a weekly basis across Gannett properties and on YouTube, and Gannett claims it is the first regular news program developed specifically for VR. Emmy-winning producer David Hamlin was hired from National Geographic to drive the show’s editorial direction.
 
The first episode invites viewers to take a flight in an F-18 fighter jet, and to spectate a hot-air balloon festival in Albuquerque.
 
Gannet isn’t the only news publisher pushing into virtual reality. The New York Times has released a selection of virtual reality content through its “NYT VR” app, including branded films for advertisers including GE and Mini. The Times said its acquisition of marketing agency Fake Love in August would help bolster its VR efforts.
 
Elsewhere, Verizon’s AOL acquired VR media company RYOT in April and folded it into its Huffington Post group.
 
For marketers, their forays into virtual reality content and advertising remain mostly experimental, however. Speaking at the Virtual Reality 2020 Summit in New York on Monday, ad executives said they don’t expect VR to reach a mass audience for at least another year or two.

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