NEWS: VR Startup Raising Money, Partnering With Online Advertising Exchange; Just Launched Game that Attracted More Than 12,000 Users in First Week

Pop-up ads in the middle of a VR experience can be a buzzkill. And a challenge for VR content creators who want to create seamless gaming environments.

One local VR startup has teamed up with a SoCal-based online advertising exchange, with the goal of creating seamless ads for its VR experiences.

VR, short for virtual reality, is the use of technology to create a simulated environment. (VR places the user inside an experience. Instead of viewing a screen in front of them, users are immersed and able to interact with 3D worlds.)

Immersive Entertainment, with a virtual home in OC, partnered with Trivver, an advertising exchange for Extended Reality (XR) environments like 3D, VR, mixed reality and augmented reality (AR), the overlay of digital images on the real world. Trivver’s HQ is in Huntington Beach.

Immersive Entertainment is raising a $5 million Series A round. The money will be used to continue developing its Virtual Universe (VU) — an “epic” multi-player, story-driven adventure — set within a “living” VR world.

This adventure opened registrations this week. Within 48 hours, more than 12,000 users registered to stake their claim in the VU, Ciaran Foley, CEO of Immersive Entertainment, told OC Startups Now.

Foundation

Immersive Entertainment was incubated at EvoNexus. It graduated from the incubator and now its employees work virtually, with no physical HQ to speak of.

The VU it developed focuses on maximizing engagement over a multi-year storyline and encourages users to play, socialize and create.

Its freemium business model “supports an innovative economy that enables users to monetize their efforts within their games.”

Ads in VR Environments

Current 2D advertising methods – like pop-ups, banners and video – are often “highly disruptive” to immersive XR experiences.

With Trivver’s patented tech, including its core “smart object technology,” brands and creators can deliver native advertising directly into the VU platform, Trivver said in a recently-issued press release.

Branded smart objects (BSOs) are 3D objects that exist as ads within the natural setting of 3D environments. They’re designed to auto-scale and render in any XR platform — enabling advertisers to seamlessly engage multiple audiences, without additional development time or financial investment, according to Trivver.

“This co-operative represents a natural evolution of XR entertainment,” Foley said in the release. “Virtual Universe is a landmark in entertainment — a living destination filled with rich interaction, social engagement and creation, all against the backdrop of a grand adventure. Trivver’s unique technologies provide a framework for major brands to participate in the platform and the player’s experience in a way that is seamless and natural. Most importantly, for the player, this experiential form of advertising represents a future of discovery and interaction that is unobtrusive and fun.”

The major brands Foley alluded to have not been disclosed yet.

Financing

Early last year, Immersive closed a $250,000 seed round that it used to launch “The Grand Canyon VR Experience,” with a theme-park kayak setting.

That’s available to consumers with the HTC Vive or Oculus VR headsets and downloadable from STEAM, the Oculus Store, or VivePort. Licensing options are also available for VR arcades and theme parks.


About The Author

Deirdre Newman is a long-time journalist, who's covered OC startups for a few years.

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