Virtual reality is at a standstill. While a handful of publishers, like The New York Times and USA Today, have gone all-in on producing short-form content for VR headsets, most are stuck behind a monetization wall. Because the high price of VR headsets limits scale, there isn’t yet a functional ad unit for the medium and most buyers don’t know how to transact in a VR environment. “People don’t have the language or knowledge of how to buy it,” said Kelly Andresen, head of USA Today’s branded content studio, Get Creative. Those publishers that are gung-ho on VR are often supported or sponsored by tech companies and may not sustain their work in the space when the money runs out. More at Digiday.
Amazon continues to spin off side businesses. On Tuesday it launched Spark, a Pinterest-like shoppable photo and video feed where Prime members can post products and ideas. Amazon has between 60 million and 90 million Prime subscribers, which still pales in comparison to Pinterest’s numbers, let alone Instagram. Even so, it has consistently leveraged Prime properties across its portfolio to powerful effect. New subscribers regularly go from zero or some hundreds of dollars spent on Amazon per year to thousands of dollars after signing up for Prime. Related: Amazon rolled out a meal-kit delivery service targeting Blue Apron and similar startups that are struggling to secure profitable growth.
Lowering The Barrier
Snap launched a creative tool allowing marketers to easily make vertical ads for the platform. Snap says the tool, Snapchat Publisher, creates ads in less than two minutes from a browser. Snap needs to scale its ad business, especially after a downgrade from principal underwriter Morgan Stanley sent its stock tumbling last week. The platform has been relatively indifferent to small and mid-sized businesses, preferring shinier branding deals. Will that change? More at Business Insider.