16th September 2022
Roblox, the online game platform and game creation system, has announced that it plans to introduce a new ad system that will allow brands to place 3D immersive ads within the virtual worlds and games hosted on its platform.
Roblox provides a gaming and entertainment platform that has amassed a user base of more than 52 million people, largely made up of young, highly engaged users. Now the company wants to draw advertisers to the platform.
Roblox currently makes most of its revenue from in-app purchases using the virtual currency Robux, so is looking to diversify its income stream beyond virtual goods in games. The company said it will be testing new types of immersive ads with some developers and advertisers by the end this year ahead of a wider rollout of its self-serve ad system in 2023.
One of Roblox’s new ad formats will be in the form of static images positioned like billboards or placed onto buildings within a given world. Another will be ‘portals’ that whisk players away to a separate branded experience - of the sort that Roblox has increasingly worked with brands to build in its corner of the metaverse. In future it will likely explore other advertising opportunities like branded objects placed within games.
While Roblox already allows creators to place in-game billboards and sponsored objects to promote experiences they have built, if they pay in Robux, it hasn’t offered ad opportunities at scale. The new ad platform will build on that system and allow brands to advertise in spaces across multiple games.
Roblox will share revenue from the ads with the developers of the experiences and games within which they are placed, although it hasn’t revealed the exact terms. Roblox has already begun to test the portal ads with Vans and Warner Bros., two brands that have built considerable presences on the platform through branded experiences.
The company said that the new "immersive ads" experience will only reach audiences aged 13 and above and will disclose when experiences contain ads. It will also revamp its age guidelines on the platform that will indicate which experiences are suitable for different age groups. Parents will then be able to select which type of game they want their children to see.
Roblox’s ad platform will operate as a walled garden, never taking users beyond the confines of its virtual worlds and as a platform that primarily consists of user generated content it will be creating guardrails through its tests and continue to explore how it defines impressions and metrics for image ads in a 3D environment.
Roblox’s core audience of kids is growing up and the platform is looking to grow up too and appeal to a slightly older demographic and expand its revenue streams – it is a major step in how Roblox thinks of its users and approaches advertising. Advertising in the metaverse is as yet unproven, but Roblox joining the party gives brands a scaled opportunity to test.