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Roblox is Paving the Future of Digital Ads

Walmart just joined a long line of brands that are turning to Roblox as a new avenue for reaching customers. They just launched Walmart Land and Universe of Play in Roblox:

Walmart Land will offer a virtual store where Roblox users can use badges and coins earned on the platform to buy merchandise for their avatars. There will also be a “physics-defying Ferris wheel” that provides a bird’s-eye view of the virtual world, plus unlockable tokens and badges that can be earned in games and competitions. Universe of Play is designed to let Roblox users explore toy worlds and earn coins for virtual goods. It will offer games featuring products and characters from Jurassic World, Paw Patrol, and other entertainment brands. – Bloomberg

I think Vans World was a more natural fit for a branded Roblox experience because a large part of Roblox is about character customization. Vans apparel is already desirable in the real world and they found a pure way to carry that into the metaverse.

Walmart Land feels forced and as if they’re just trying to get their products in front of the youth without really understanding this persona. Many agree that it comes across as very corporate.

Nonetheless, this shows that Roblox is priming itself to be the next major ad platform.

Roblox as an Ads Platform

Facebook is undergoing a mass exodus from its Ads Platform, which means there’s an opportunity to provide a new home for ad budgets that are leaving Facebook. Roblox has something really unique to offer in comparison to other options like TikTok or YouTube.

What’s different about metaverse ads on Roblox:

  • Roblox has its own in-game economy and currency, so advertisers don’t necessarily have to direct traffic or dollars off-platform.
  • Roblox offers the ability to create branded games and experiences, thus consumers will experience your ad instead of being disrupted by it.
  • Branded objects (like taxis and surfaces) are the reinvention of the billboard because they not only provide utility in the game but also showcase the brand.
  • Brands can also create “portals” between games, which allow them to show up in between the moments that users move from one experience to the next.

I think Roblox realizes the opportunity it has ahead of itself and is making moves to capture this value (before Fortnite does).

Thus, Roblox is releasing many new features to grow up alongside its users and make the platform more sophisticated. They’re upping the resolution and physics of the game so that it doesn’t look so childish. They’re investing in educational curriculums for high-schoolers that can be taught inside of Roblox, making the case for an alternative learning environment.

As a result, half of Roblox’s 52.2 million daily active users are now over the age of 13. In its last earnings call, the company revealed that people aged 17 to 24 make up the fastest-growing slice of its current audience. Clearly, Roblox is becoming more than a metaverse for kids.

Roblox will be one of the dominant ad platforms in just a few years. It’s a much different type of advertising from the self-service display ads pioneered by Facebook. And it will require a deeper understanding of the audiences on Roblox. However, this is where Gen Z is showing up. This means brands need to learn how to show up there too.