3d advertising

3D ads: what are they and how do I get started?

By Cristina Ferrandez

Imagine you see an ad for a product you’ve been thinking of buying on your phone screen. You look closer and the ad prompts you to tap on it and interact with it. You realise you can zoom in and out and rotate the product from side to side to observe it more closely. Suddenly, you have a 360º view of the product and a much better understanding of what it looks like than you possibly could from a regular picture. Would this encourage you to buy the product more than your traditional display ad? If the answer is yes, then you understand the power of 3D ads and why they are set to revolutionise the way products are advertised online. 

These kinds of ads are not restricted just to retail advertising, but this is one of the markets we can first expect 3D ads to explode in. However, 3D ads are also great ways of driving brand awareness and engagement in general, because they allow brands to tell their stories in more interactive ways.

The current frontrunner in the quest to provide the internet with 3D display ads is, unsurprisingly, Google, with their new offering Swirl: an immersive display format with an interactive 3D model. 

If you’d like to learn more about how to get started with your first Google Swirl campaign, look no further. In this article we outline the main steps you’ll need to take in order to kickstart your campaign.

Step 1: Set your 3D ads campaign goals

A Google Swirl campaign from Guerlain
A Google Swirl campaign from Guerlain

Before you get started, consider what you’d like to achieve with your 3D ad. Are you hoping to promote a particular product, allowing users to explore it from all angles? Or would you like to create a different kind of immersive experience, for example to promote an event or an online game?

The key is to think about what sort of 3D object would both appeal to the end user enough for them to engage with it, and also effectively promote your offering. If the object is boring or doesn’t particularly benefit from being shown in a 3D format, then perhaps a 3D display ad is not the right avenue for it.

If you’d like to promote a particular product range, bear in mind that you’ll have to select a single product variation to build the 3D model. We recommend that you pick the product that is most attractive and fun to interact with.

Step 2: Build your 3D model and your ad creative

The Hector car, which we turned into a 3D model for MG Motor's Google Swirl campaign
The Hector car, which we turned into a 3D model for MG Motor’s Google Swirl campaign

To include a 3D model within your immersive display ad, you will first need to build it. You may want to work with a company such as Poplar Studio in order to develop the model, or directly with a developer.

One thing to bear in mind is that the 3D model may look slightly different once uploaded onto Google Web Designer and added to your display ad, so you may want to test this before you complete the final version of your model.

Another thing to consider will be the ad interactions. Immersive display ads offer several options:

  • Scrolling allows users to rotate the model in order to observe it from different angles.
  • Zooming in and out enables users to get up and close with the object.
  • Full screen allows users to access a full-screen version of the ad, and to interact with it more easily.

It is important that you make users aware of these interactions so that they know to engage with the ad. You can do this by including custom animations, for example text that indicates that the model can be rotated.

Once you have your model, you can move on to creating the ad using the 3D Swirl basic or advanced templates in Google Web Designer. For this, you will need to create:

  • The creative for the banner ad
  • Any 2D animations
3D ad interactions
3D ad interactions

Step 3: Publish your 3D ads and measure your success

Google Swirl is available exclusively through Display and Video 360, which is part of the Google Marketing Platform. Once the ad is completed, it will need to be published through the platform.

But the work doesn’t end there. Tracking the success of the campaign with conversion metrics will be key, just like you would with any other display advertising campaign on Adwords.

The Display & Video 360 platform provides the following metrics:

  • # of impressions
  • Engagement
  • Full-screen
  • Click-through rate
  • Time spent on banner

These insights will help you measure the success of your campaign and point you to any areas of improvement for your next one.

Case study: MG Motor

Poplar Studio's 3D ads campaign with MG Motor
Poplar Studio’s 3D ads campaign with MG Motor

We recently worked with Google to develop a 3D ad for automotive brand MG Motor. They wanted to run 3D immersive display ads to promote the release of their new car, the MG Hector.

We were approached to build the 3D model and the design of the creative for the 2D ad. The resulting ad displayed the car, which rotated automatically as the user scrolled down the page. The user could also interact with it by zooming in and out, rotating the model and entering full screen. The campaign was targeted at key audiences in order to drive engagement with the right people.

MG Motor had great success with the campaign, which led to a 8x higher engagement compared to rich media, 70% viewability and 4,600 engaged hours.

MG Motor is a great example of how 3D immersive display ads can allow retail brands to showcase their products in highly interactive ways. This is particularly key during the Covid-19 pandemic, with shops being closed and customers needing alternative ways to make purchasing decisions.

If you’re interested in creating your first 3D ads campaign, you can find out more about our services here.

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