Remember when 360 Videos were all over your Facebook News? Hours were spent with phones being spun around, boldly exploring new worlds. Anticipation fueled our actions as we wondered what would be exposed us to next due to the advancement of virtual reality technology (VR Tech). Then next thing we know, the videos and public interest in VR Tech dwindled. Recently I found myself wondering what happened to those good times and what can we expect from a VR Tech and marketing relationship moving forward?
What’s the Medium?
Defining the difference between virtual reality and augmented reality is necessary before trying to choose tactics to have a successful VR Tech integration strategy. In an article on Augment.com, they state virtual reality is, “an artificial, computer-generated simulation or recreation of a real life environment or situation…experiencing the simulated reality firsthand, primarily by stimulating [our] vision and hearing.” VR Tech is showing itself to us in various forms, however, wearable tech is trending and constantly finessing itself into our daily lives. Prominent examples include watches, fitness trackers, and headsets developed by Oculus including their implementation of mobile devices.
Augment goes on to describes augmented reality to be, “technology that layers computer-generated enhancements atop an existing reality in order to make it more meaningful.” Prevalent uses of augmented reality consist of Snapchat filters/lenses, apps that enable users to preview furniture in their homes before making a purchase, and pop up advertisements on web and mobile. Emerging uses include holograms and motion activated gestures such as the ability to unlock your devices with a smile or one’s eyes.
In short, augmented reality could be used to boost a virtual reality experience but they are not the same.
How could we use it?
Clare McDermott conducted an interview with Sarah Hill CEO of StoryUP, a pioneer company in the VR branding world, in January of 2017. McDermott expresses VR will be on the come up within the next two years, around 2019 we can expect more from the VR Tech industry when it comes to tech sophistication and their functions. To parody a classic Spider-Man quote, “with great tech comes great responsibility.” The following four areas are where marketing can hold a place in the future of VR.
1. Literal Pop Up Ads
Obviously, this is the first thing that can be done to forge a path into this final, final frontier. Thanks to concepts such as Facebook Spaces, content creators could show case advertisements for their products to users to share with friends or directly select the item and be redirected to a virtual landing page to buy the item or browse content.
2. Refining Virtual Shopping
Sarah Hill mentioned “room-scale VR” is taking over the virtual space. Room-scale is the idea of being able to move around a virtual room like walking around a Whole Food’s virtually browsing their items or shopping for clothes at H & M. VR has the potential to dramatically empower the online shopping experience if a secure and realistic way to try on styles is created. It’s well known that consumers have been reluctant to buying clothing online because of the inability to know how items may fit. If we can solve this issue, profits will increase and in time we can customize the experience of shoppers by exposing them to styles similar to their previous purchases before all others.
3. Give Demonstrations
TOMS, the iconic and revolutionary shoe company, utilized a 360 video to show consumers how the company’s coveted “buy one, give one” process truly works. While the team at Game of Thrones chose to give fans an in-depth experience by allowing them to explore the fictional kingdom of Westeros. Moving forward demos could be a great way to introduce new products, relive special events, or further express company vision & goals.
4. Create New [Interactive] Stories
I believe, at its core, VR is all about creating new worlds. Look at Oreo, they created an imaginative realm for consumers to explore with VR Tech. Establishing brands will be dependent upon the story being told in VR. The narrative needs to tell the story of the brand yet tie to the user directly. In my head, I imagine something similar to Minecraft and Skyrim, users are free to explore and roam around as they please but there are also objectives or missions they can complete as well. Inventive storytelling, stunning visuals, and the level of interaction are going to set your brand apart from others in VR, so be sure to invest the proper time and energy into these projects.
The future of VR Tech is looking bright and its relationship with marketing is looking healthy. Excitement is still buzzing around as we try to navigate what VR Tech means for our industries respectively. What do you predict VR Tech can do for your industry by 2019? How dramatically do you think it will shape your world by 2027?