Yes, it’s 2016 and you are reading an article on virtual reality. Let’s just take a moment to realize how cool that is! If you haven’t yet been taken into the world of VR, pull out your smart phone (if you’re not on it already) and check out this awesome video. This video is shot using a 360-degree camera, so when you swivel your phone, the scenery changes as if you are actually inside of the video. Virtual reality takes 360-degree videos further by adding the concept of depth.
What is Virtual Reality?
Vrs.org states, “Virtual reality is a term used to describe a three-dimensional, computer generated environment which can be explored and interacted with by a person. That person becomes part of this virtual world or is immersed within this environment and whilst there, is able to manipulate objects or perform a series of actions”.
VR plays off of your sense of sight, yes, but also your sense of balance, depth, height, etc. So how is this different from watching a 3-D movie? We can see the movie theater around us while watching the film. We know where the alternate reality ends and where our true reality begins. But a VR headset, such as the Oculus Rift, immerses the user in the alternate reality. It blocks out everything else from sight, tricking the senses. In short, it makes the user experience something as if they’re really there. This is because it covers the user’s view completely. Less immersive versions of VR are also making a statement. Pokemon Go is taking the gaming industry by storm with its AR (augmented reality) technology. This makes the pokemon characters appear to be in front of the gamer’s view by tapping into the back-facing camera.
When thinking about the potential for virtual reality, entertainment instantly comes to mind. Things like gaming, movies, and the video you watched just now are what make consumers excited about VR! But what opportunities do marketers see in VR?
Brands Go Where the Consumers Are
Virtual reality is just barely edging into the consumer market, yet the tide of affordable headsets is inevitable. Google Cardboard costs about $15, making it possible for users to join the fun at a low cost Google claims that global search interest for virtual reality has grown almost 4X in the last year. Already, cell phone companies are enticing buyers with contracts that come packaged with VR headsets. It is predicted that a year or two down the road, consumers will see them as another must-have piece of technology. It’s clear that consumers have a strong thirst for what VR has to offer. This makes it imperative that marketers keep up with them.
Marketing through virtual reality has the potential to give consumers a new way to see ads. Already, marketers are looking ahead and planning campaigns entirely based around VR. The advertising space is overcrowded, especially in the digital landscape, and consumers are tuning out. Virtual reality is soon to be the marketer’s saving grace. Virtual reality advertising is a way for brands to stand out and interact with consumers in a new and exciting way.
For instance, the fashion apparel retailer, Top Shop, gave shoppers at the store virtual reality headsets to watch Top Shop’s fashion show. It caused a major buzz among the fashion community, creating lines of people desiring to see the show live. Top Shop extended the buzz by creating an on-demand version of the show for shoppers to view via VR headsets over the next three days. Top Shop was praised as an early adopter of the technology by news sources and consumers alike.
Virtual reality also has huge potential in the testing department. Testing new products or services can be extremely expensive. Paying for testers’ travel, time, and their use of the product or service adds up fast- especially since it often requires a large sample of data. Virtual reality enables testers to experience the product or service in a more convenient and affordable way. For example, it allows the person to walk through a newly designed hotel room, sit in a car, or check out a new watch. The tester does not have to travel to a new location, give up lots of time. They don’t have to physically use the product or service, yet their feedback is immediate. This means money and, more importantly, time is saved.
See for Yourself
Another exciting opportunity is the “try before you buy” method of marketing. This idea has been around for a long time, but VR steps it up a notch. Now, consumers can get a taste for the finer things. VR helps with envisioning a sofa in their living room, trying on a diamond bracelet, or admiring an art piece in their hallway. Part of the reason so many people still prefer buying in-store over online is because they find value experiencing the product. VR is the next best thing to that in-store feel. It gives consumers a new opportunity to try out something they are considering, giving them the extra push needed for a purchase.
Lastly, virtual reality has the potential to help a brand tell its story in a new way. Take charities for instance. Many are successful through the use of images or videos; however, donors still can’t fully experience the detriment that a charity attempts to overcome. Virtual reality is already proving that it pushes donors to dig deeper into their hearts and their pockets. In this story by AdWeek, a donor who had committed to giving $60,00 ended up donating $400,000 after watching a film on the water crisis through a VR headset. This is a drastic increase in the amount of empathy and money given, both of which are important to the success of a charity.
Leave a Lasting Impression
With all of the excitement about virtual reality, it is important to note that even a cool VR headset cannot stifle dull content. When it comes to the marriage between marketing and VR, interesting, relevant content is always the way to go. Infinite Reach Agency understands the importance of quality content and its role in video and VR. Check out its services to learn more.