3d advertising

3D advertising: from GDN to programmatic, here’s how retailers can take advantage

By Cristina Ferrandez

By 2025, the retail media industry will be worth $6 billion in the UK, per Gartner’s predictions. Already, retail media networks (RMNs) are growing by over 10% year-on-year in the UK and are described as the “latest retail trend.” 

RMNs are retailer-owned advertising programs. They allow marketers to buy advertising space across a retailer’s digital assets, like their website or app, via programmatic advertising. 

For example, with RMN, Kellogg’s would be able to put an ad on Walmart’s website. In doing so, it would be able to take advantage of Walmart’s expanded reach and improve targeting as a result of Walmart’s in-depth first-party shopper data. 

According to McKinsey, about 70% of advertisers say retail media has improved their performance when compared to other channels. 

3D can help marketers take retail media advertising a step further. 

The truth is that most internet users have a negative opinion about online ads, with few consumers giving ads the time needed to drive behaviour. 

One of the reasons why is that standard ads are not engaging enough, which means they’re consumed passively and quickly forgotten. To capture user attention, brands need to shift their focus to interactive ads, i.e., ads with 3D elements. 

Many retailers are already taking advantage of 3D in different ways. For example, sponsored shopping boxes that have a 3D view and appear in search results and product pages have been around for almost a decade. 

Display ads are the next frontier in 3D. 

What is 3D advertising?

An example of a 3D advertising campaign
An example of a 3D advertising campaign

3D ads are like regular online display ads, except that they include 3D objects that viewers can interact with. Viewers can zoom in and out of the 3D object within the ad, spin it around, configure it, etc. 

Benefits of 3D advertising include: 

  • Better engagement rates. After implementing 3D advertising, the pet food brand Purina saw a 6x increase in user engagement rates versus 2D ads.
  • Higher conversion rates. Shoppers that interact with 3D ads are 44% more likely to add an item to their cart and 27% more likely to buy it. 
  • Increased customer confidence. According to one study, “the effectiveness of 3D advertising comes from its ability to allow consumers to have ‘first-hand evaluation’ of geometric product attributes, thus increasing consumers’ confidence in their evaluations.” When customers can inspect a product from all angles, their confidence that they’re buying the right item increases. 
  • Improved ROAS. For the sportswear manufacturer Adidas, their 3D campaign resulted in a ~2.8 return on ad spend (ROAS). 
  • Increased purchase intent. The premium spirit brand Belvedere Vodka experienced a 4.9x higher purchase intent when compared to usual category norms following its 3D advertising campaign.

Google Swirl 3D advertising

Google Swirl is an ad format designed to specifically display 3D models within banner ads. 

According to Google, Swirl ads are great for showcasing unique product features, illustrating new technology performance, demonstrating changes in behaviour, and creating rich, immersive stories about a brand/product. 

For example, the Google Swirl ad by the British automotive brand MG Motor, which was created in partnership with Poplar Studio, displayed a 3D model of a new car within their Compact SUV segment, the MG Hector. 

A Google Swirl 3D advertising campaign we produced for MG Motor.

As users scrolled down a page where the ad appeared, the 3D model of the MG Hector rotated automatically. This allowed users to get a better look at the car from all angles. Users could also zoom in and out of the car, rotate it manually, and enter full screen to zero in on specific features. The ad was targeted at specific audiences.

The campaign’s results were impressive: 70% viewability, 8x higher engagement rate, and 4,600 engaged hours. 

For step-by-step instructions on how to get started with Google Swirl ads, take a look at our previous blog post on 3D ads

Benefits of Google Swirl

The cost of accessing the Google Display Network or GDN (which is where Google Swirl ads show up) is affordable. There are typically no requirements for a minimum ad spend either. 

The GDN has several pricing models, including cost per thousand impressions (CPM), cost per action (CPA), and cost per click (CPC).

The GDN is also easy to set up and use. 

The GDN gives businesses multiple targeting options. For example, brands can show their ads based on specific demographics, past behaviour, interests, websites they visit, and more.

Because the GDN integrates with the Google Product Suite, Google Swirl ads are also a great option for brands that already use other Google products. It means marketers can track ads with tools they’re familiar with, improving efficiency. 

A Google Swirl 3D advertising campaign for Guerlain
A Google Swirl 3D advertising campaign for Guerlain

Drawbacks of Google Swirl

The biggest disadvantage of Google Swirl ads is that they’re limited to the GDN. 

The GDN includes over 2 million websites, apps, and videos. But there are currently almost 2 billion websites on the internet, and the online space you might want to advertise on may not be part of the GDN. 

Your prospects might also be outside Google’s ecosystem, i.e., use search engines other than Google. 

3D advertising across retailer websites through programmatic

Online retail media ads come in two forms: native and display ads. 

Native ads, also known as sponsored products, appear with a “sponsored” label when a customer searches for an item on a retailer’s website/app. 

On the other hand, display ads allow for far more creativity. They can feature either static or dynamic branded content, and brands can use platforms like Poplar Studio’s 3D/AR visualisation unit to embed 3D/AR models within their display ads. 

Unlike GDN, which is controlled by Google, there isn’t a single entity controlling the entire ad display process that happens through programmatic advertising. 

Instead, programmatic advertising makes use of multiple adtech services to allow brands to advertise on retailers most relevant to their audience.

Benefits of programmatic advertising

Brands that opt for retail media display ads through programmatic advertising have access to multiple ad exchanges. In contrast, the GDN is limited to one ad exchange. This means that with programmatic advertising, businesses can reach more users. 

Programmatic advertising also gives brands more control when it comes to targeting. For example, with programmatic advertising, brands can make use of options like in-store attribution to show their 3D display ads to customers who visit a specific brick-and-mortar store. Brands also have more control over retargeting and 3D ad creative placement. 

Some programmatic ad platforms can also give brands access to premium publishers and inventories that wouldn’t be reachable with GDN. 

Many retail websites offer banner ads for retailers to advertise their products.
Many retail websites offer banner ads for retailers to advertise their products.

Drawbacks of programmatic advertising

Getting to grips with programmatic advertising is a bit more complex than with the GDN. 

Programmatic advertising is generally more expensive than the GDN and typically supports only the cost-per thousand impressions (CPM) pricing model. Moreover, brands are usually expected to have a minimum budget, which can be quite high. 

GDN vs programmatic for 3D advertising: which is better?

Both GDN and programmatic advertising allow brands to create 3D ads. As a result, the 3D advertising option a brand chooses will likely depend on other factors, like budget, targeting requirements, etc. 

Whichever option you end up going for, you’ll want to work with an experienced agency to create your 3D advertising campaign. 

Here at Poplar Studio, we have worked with many brands on their 3D creatives. Get in touch with us today to learn more about our services and how we can help you make your 3D advertising campaign a reality.

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