“Nothing ever becomes real till it is experienced.”
– John Keats

Last week Unity Technologies hosted its annual developers conference, Unite, in Los Angeles. While the general public may not be aware, Unity is the engine under the hood of the games and apps we engage with every day. With the new products and services that were announced at Unite LA, Unity is poised to dominate our digital world over the course of the next few years.

You may not know it now, but you’ve likely experienced something built in Unity.  Snuck in a game of Words with Friends or Angry Birds recently?  How about an AR or VR experience?  Maybe you caught those shiny new Lexus LC 500 TV spots or saw Spielberg’s latest film Ready Player One?  Unity is the real-time engine behind all of them, and has apps installed on over 1 billion devices worldwide, reaching almost 75% of US consumers every month.

Introducing AR Ads

One of Unity’s biggest announcements at Unite LA was their Ads Software Developer’s Kit (SDK) 3.0.  Unity developers install the SDK to embed programmatic ad placements in strategic moments, which adds an additional layer of monetization for their app.  The shining innovation here is their Augmented Reality (AR) Ads platform, which lets users launch snackable and highly interactive AR experiences.  With this platform, brands won’t have to build a custom AR app to give consumers an AR experience, it can be activated right from an in-app ad unit.  At the announcement event at Unite LA, I had the pleasure of speaking about the role of Advertisers and AR to preview what the future of AR-enabled ads could look like for brands.  Since the user is the focus of an AR ad, there is unlocked potential for brands to create memorable experiences.

Put Yourself in the Ad

With AR Ads, consumers no longer need to sit back and transport themselves to a brand experience, they can be the star of the show.  With AR, brands can bring real utility to the ad experience to drive recall and purchase intent.  Apparel brands can use AR ads to promote a new clothing line and let the user virtually try them on.  Automakers can drop the new car you’re shopping for onto your driveway and customize it endlessly in real time.  With a real-time programmatic bidding engine, advertisers are able to target that AR ad to the right consumer at the right spending level and get deeper insights into the interactivity with user behavior-based analytics.

Go Beyond the Tabletop

With AR, the whole world is your canvas.  Through advancements in AI and computer vision and a smartphone with iOS or Android, AR ads can digitally scan the space around you and place objects around the room that interact with your environment.  This means the ads can be spatially aware of the user’s surroundings and place virtual objects around your area contextually.  Instead of seeing the couch in your room, these AR ads can find the perfect place in the room for that couch with AI.  And, in the near future, the AR Cloud will super-power these experiences by giving us a contextual data layer on top of our real world.  With Unity’s AR ads, a programmatically-bought ad experience can welcome you at your favorite coffee shop with a discount or a free sample at the grocery store.

Unity’s Grand Vision

Beyond the Ads SDK, Unity showcased the many ways they are powering advancements in Hollywood filmmaking, eSports, AI, holographic telepresence and more.  It’s clear that Unity is leading the way for our world to transition from screen-based computing into spatial computing and beyond.  These are the first steps to a larger world.

Read more insights from Digitas here.

Author: Keith Soljacich, VP/Group Director – Experiential Technology, Digitas