First 3D advert revealed on iPad

Grand Canyon as it appears in the ad The ad promotes 'From the Edge' a documentary for the Weather Channel

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The first ever 3D advert for the iPad has just launched.

Creator Cooliris hopes it will kickstart innovation in the nascent mobile ad business.

The ad promotes a new series for the US Weather Channel which follows the award winning photographer Peter Lik as he travels across the US to take the perfect photo.

Experts say such ads will take a while to catch on.

A lot of advertising in the mobile space is done using banner ads which include basic static display images at the top or bottom of a phone screen.

They are a low cost way to advertise but not very effective because users find them annoying and rarely click on them.

"Rather than being inspired by the bad advertising we have seen on the desktop and that has migrated to mobile devices, we went back to the drawing board to create a new advertising platform," said Soujanya Bhumkar, chief executive officer of Cooliris

The Interactive Advertising Bureau reported in April that banner ads accounted for nearly 24% of a record $26 bn spent on online advertising.

There was no breakdown for mobile but the IAB estimated that total revenue for the year was between $550m and $650m in the US.

Technology

Cooliris said it has developed two technologies that enable ad creators to transform 2D images into 3D.

One is called PageKit which is a digital publishing technology that makes it possible to quickly create dynamic, animated layouts of text, image and video.

RenderKit is a platform for producing immersive mobile ads, and adds 3D to PageKit.

"When you look at a photo of the Grand Canyon on a screen, you can't peek around it and see what it's like on the other side - simply put, photos have a fixed perspective," explained Mayank Mehta, head of products at Cooliris.

"We are able to represent 3D objects on a 2D device by drawing out all the different angles from the scene. As viewers change perspectives using gestures on their mobile device, we show them the corresponding image. This makes it feel like they are at the Grand Canyon," he added.

He said that the iPad lends itself easily to 3D because of a users ability to interact using the touchscreen and tilt functions.

"Until recently the big stumbling block has been the graphics processor that gives you the ability to display these 3D models in a way that is effective, fast and efficient. And that has changed with these next generation devices like the iPad, iPhone and Android devices where we have been able to take advantage of the native processing power they have," he said.

Too expensive

But industry watchers see a major hurdle to 3D adverts becoming ubiquitous.

"The limitations for 3D ad campaigns catching on comes down to the devices themselves, their processing power and the fact that the majority of users still have feature phones rather than smart phones," said Justin Montgomery, editor in chief of Mobile Marketing Watch.

"3D will change things greatly but it will be several years down the line until enough people have the ability to even view those ads," he added.

Meanwhile Colin Gibbs, a mobile consultant who writes for the technology site GigaOm, said that it may prove too expensive.

"3D is a great vehicle for certain types of products like cars and technology but I think it will cost an advertiser more to build campaigns around these rich immersive features than just placing a link on a page."

Research by eMarketer has estimated that US mobile ad spending will break the $1bn mark this year and rise to over $2.5bn by 2014.

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