Why Cannes Lions Was A Big Deal For VR & AR

Key announcements are putting XR on the map.

If you work in a field somewhat related to media or advertising, you must have heard of Cannes Lions, a festival held in the south of France every year which manages to gather thousands of people from the creative industry. It is where agencies reveal new campaigns, adtech companies showcase new ad formats, and the industry as a whole celebrates creativity.

VR and AR have been a recurrent topic over the past few years, but mostly from a creative and experiential standpoint. This year the conversation has changed following the announcement that several large adtech players would support emergent XR formats. This is a huge deal for two reasons:

  • A flow of advertising dollars in VR/AR will create a viable economy for creators to build more content.
  • Due to their reach, advertisers can help the masses discover and understand VR and AR.

Millions of people to experience AR

On the 20th of June,, a large French ad tech company known as a pioneer for in-read videos, revealed an AR ad unit with Burger King and Ray Ban. The ad unit was built by Teads Studio and external partner Deep AR, an SDK for brands to easily build their own AR experiences. Users can interact with the ad through the front camera, similar to a Snapchat Lense, but on the web instead of in-app.

While the format isn’t entirely new (Vertebrae had done a similar campaign last year), what makes it interesting is the massive reach this campaign could potentially attain. Tapping into Teads’s network of publishers like Bloomberg, Cnet, Business Insider, Forbes or Mashable, the AR ads could be seen by over 1B people. In reality, the upper limit is closer to 400M people with devices supporting AR, but it is still a huge number to debut on a new format.

Out of these 400M people, most do not even know that their phone support AR, and therefore have never experienced it. Therefore, stumbling upon an AR ad while browsing their favourite websites might just help them discover and understand these new capabilities. In other words, millions of people will first experience AR through advertising, which is why this announcement is such a big deal. With Teads paving the way, we expect many advertisers to jump into AR ads over the next couple of months.

Removing barriers to entry for advertisers in VR

On Monday 18th, Oath, the 3rd largest adtech player in terms of reach in the US and parent company of Yahoo, AOL and TechCrunch, announced support for product placements in VR. The formats can transact programmatically through existing ad networks, and are compatible with existing banner and video formats, enabling any advertisers to buy VR and AR media. To achieve this, Oath has partnered with Admix, a Unity extension enabling VR and AR developer to place sponsored products within their content (disclosure: I am the CEO of Admix).

Similarly to the other announcement, what’s interesting here are not the formats – they consist of mostly standard banners or videos – but the ability for any brands to access it via their trusted platforms. Thousands of advertisers can now buy VR/AR campaign via Oath’s ad exchange, without a special setup.

Until now, brands willing to reach their audience in VR or AR had to create their own bespoke experience (such as a 360 video or an showcase AR app) and find ways to distribute them to their audience independently. The process, owned by the creative agencies, was expensive, time consuming, and more of a branding stunt than a performance advertising campaign.

With this announcement, the landscape is shifting. Brands do not need to invest large amounts of money into building their own content. They can build simple advertising creatives and distribute them at scale via programmatic networks they already trust. As with mobile advertising, brands will also access detailed reports to understand how their campaigns perform.

XR on the map

Overall, these announcements put VR/AR on the map as a serious media for advertisers and will change its perception from a purely creative media, to a legitimate channel for brands to engage their audience and get a return on investment.

As a consequence, more creators are going to be able to live off their passion, and studios will get more budgets to create more content, pushing the entire industry forward. XR is developing a profitable economy. And that is why these announcements really matter.

Image Credit: Wayin

About the Scout

Samuel Huber

Samuel Huber currently serves as the CEO of, the first monetization platform for VR/AR. He is passionate about how frontier technologies will affect consumer behaviour, and frequently speaks at conferences about the future of the industry.

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