Eye
Credit: Image by TapiF on Flickr. Some rights reserved
Local online advertising platform Addiply is piloting "virtual walkthrough adverts" on Norfolk hyperlocal The Loddon Eye.

The ad format allows a hyperlocal website's readers to get a Google Street View-like tour of the interiors of local businesses. Advertisers are able to show the interior of a restaurant, for example, and viewers are able to benefit from a virtual tour.

Addiply has partnered with Voovio, the company which provides the walkthrough technology, and images will be taken by photographers who are local to the business that book adverts.

The Loddon Eye hyperlocal is now displaying a Google Map with icons which readers can click on and take the tour of local businesses, including a pub.

Rick Waghorn, co-founder and chief executive of Addiply, told Journalism.co.uk that "this is the first iteration of Addiply deploying Voovio's internal AdSweep technology into that UK hyperlocal space".

"It's a new ad format to put before local SMEs," he added. "The challenge for all of us is to try to get beyond the tired formats of the banner ad, the button ad, the text ad. We need to keep pushing forward to try and deliver fresh innovation in this space."

Waghorn said it is crucial to ensure people can also take virtual walkthroughs on mobile phones. "We needed to wait until Voovio could render via HTML5 before we could get to this stage."

So how long could it be before other hyperlocals can display Addiply's new ad format? "Addiply's API, courtesy of Technology Strategy Board funding, is in process of being made public," Waghorn said, "a process that probably has another four to six weeks to go, at which stage we would hope that an AdSweep would be part of the advertising format available to any publisher to offer."

He added: "Its very much still a work in progress and, in every likelihood, will ever be so. Loose wires here and there, paint still wet on the walls – but we have to find something that works on a sustainable and networked basis in this hyperlocal space."

Addiply received six-figure investment from Japan at the end of last year.

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