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Experience Brands with Virtual Reality Marketing
Technology empowers consumers; and the more it pushes past the gates of innovation the more sophisticated consumer choices become. This sophistication breeds high expectations for a form of communication that is highly engaging, through its medium and content, going increasingly interactive, but most importantly implying a personal promise. Given the situation, marketers are now progressively beginning to employ highly focused interactions and heightened personalization into brand communications.
Marketing is augmented constantly by technology that helps converse with consumers in a way that engages with them in their desired format. At the forefront of marketing technology Virtual Reality Marketing (VR). Today the most heightened conversational engagement can be achieved with VR in marketing.
With a doubt, VR in marketing is one of the most powerful marketing tools available in the business world today; some of the world’s brands have already integrated the technology into their content strategies. Nevertheless, it suffices to say, that virtual reality in marketing is the best, and right now most futuristic way to establish and build relationships with your customers in a scalable manner.
But before we jump aboard the Virtual Reality marketing bandwagon, it’s important to understand how VR impacts the future of marketing. Let’s look at the journey of VR. When did virtual reality become popular? How do we gauge the level of Virtual Reality’s social impact? What are the Virtual Reality marketing examples in popular media? And how virtual can digital marketing get going forward?
Different Types of Reality in Technology
Virtual, augmented, and mixed reality are terms set to revolutionize the business world. Let’s pause for a moment to understand the differences between them:
1. Virtual Reality
Imagine the existence of another world or dimension, digital in its constitution, covering the viewer with a visual experience. It can also be supported by haptic feedback that also covers other sensory perceptions. This experience involves placing the user in such a simulated world that reality can be programmed. Watch the movie ‘Ready Player One’ to envision the future of Virtual Reality in our everyday lives. It’s anybody’s guess how we will materialize the power of VR in marketing driven by gaming or social networking if not all uniformly achieved as one single super platform.
2. Augmented Reality
This involves placing content or information in the real world via use of a device; the camera in a smartphone, for example. Pokémon Go is perhaps the easiest example to explaining this term. Smartphones are the primary devices to conjure the Augmented Reality space in our vision. The innovative use of cameras is already integrated into popular apps like Instagram and Snapchat where face filters and filter-driven games play with our personal features and surroundings to ignite our imaginative selves, driving an interesting use case for interactive marketing.
Unless the Augmented Reality technology makes a leap into mass adoption with smart glasses or goggles that have been announced by technology innovators, we are going to witness the rise of Augmented Reality Marketing every day with more and more brands designing these features into their apps, web and social interactions. Smartphones are going to drive an affordable way of Augmented Reality marketing for every marketer out there looking to catch the consumers’ attention innovatively.
3. Mixed Reality
When real and digital content merge together to combine and create meaningful experiences new environments and visualizations are produced. With real content of our surrounding in the physical plane and digital objects co-exist and interact in real time many practical applications of mixed reality emerge, such as design, entertainment, military training, and remote working. Essentially, the mixed reality experiences are enabled in between the application of augmented and virtual reality technologies. A great example is being seen at election rallies where politicians who have to canvass across vast geographies simultaneously use 3D holograms to project their selves giving speeches and interacting with audiences.
In totality, VR technologies enable greater emotional intensity, adding several layers to customer experience as a concept. Over the years, due to improvements and a reduction in production costs, virtual reality stands as a more readily available form of communication for storytellers and marketers. Turning Franz Kafka’s seminal story of Metamorphosis into a VR experience was one of the most interesting pieces of VR storytelling, brilliantly presented by Goethe Institute at literary festivals’ circuit. It is still much appreciated for showcasing the power of VR technology through the collective consciousness of stories.
What is VR Marketing?
Virtual reality is all about immersion, a popular buzzword for marketers worldwide to describe the brand experience. With several companies building products around virtual reality, it popularizes a medium with the potential for explosive growth. We have moved on from the times of the ‘Medium being the Message’ to the ‘Messenger being the Message’. And as Marshall McLuhan has been right in his predictions about the future, we are living in the globalized village, where stories are driving us to feel together what it means to be human.
Marketers are banking on this feeling to bring the next dimension messaging which is theorized as ‘The Medium is the Massage’ suggesting that modern audiences enjoy mainstream media as soothing, enjoyable, and relaxing experiences. To think about it in this manner, virtual reality offers a form of immersion far greater than traditional media, a form of immersion with great emotional intensity. For modern audiences worldwide, VR is a medium for interactive and engaging storytelling whether it is by brands or other entities.
An iconic virtual reality marketing example is with The New York Times – the company launched a virtual storytelling campaign delivered via use of Google Cardboard glasses. The campaign reached out to their subscribers with a VR film; the experience offered something fresh, something that reinforced brand loyalty even. What the publication did was offer its readers the ability to experience a story rather than read it. As mainstream media continues to enable viewers to immerse themselves in stories from around the world with brands and
Why Pay Attention to the Hype?
Virtual Reality Marketing enables brand owners to place their brand vision closer to the eyes of their customers. It offers value through new business models and delivers an immersive and unique experience to the users involved. Especially in the new normal where people have been forced to stay indoors to fulfill their storytelling needs brands have their work cut out for them. Nuanced stories that can only be shared in experience require the media to support multi-sensory perceptions to deliver a solid punchline.
Consumers arrive in anticipation of an experience they could have never had even face-to-face with the brand ambassador in a set-up design. Whereas now the ambiance is set for the consumers to use and play with this entirely simulated world with popular characters who play the role of brand ambassadors. More importantly, it is a scalable and valuable proposition for both the brand owners and the customers to interact with the brand in this fashion.
Here are some recent statistics that attest to the growth of VR, and why we must pay attention to it:
- By 2024, the VR market is expected to become worth $44.7 billion
- The estimated number of VR users in 2018 borders around 171 million, a huge uptick from the mere 200,000 in 2014
- Consumers are more engaged, roughly 62%, with brands that sponsor VR experiences
- 71% of consumers identify with a brand that uses VR as forward-thinking
Source: Virtual Reality Market worth $20.9 billion by 2025 (marketsandmarkets.com)
Engagement increases in direct proportion to a tangible experience, and virtual reality offers said the holy grail of experiences. Therefore, innovative brands find themselves in a rush to both leverage and incorporate this technology into their marketing strategies. The speed with which technology is improving is brilliant and it is anytime now that we shall see another great use case for the Virtual Reality to become a mainstream marketing activity.
How about destinations using virtual reality for marketing? Yes, even that’s happening. Marriott Hotels uses VR marketing to offer their visitors an opportunity to fly out and experience a holiday destination in any one of their hotels. The North Face offered shoppers an opportunity to hike through the famous Yosemite National Park.
We have only for imagination to envision the possibilities and the right data to analyze its value in bringing great virtual marketing concepts to reality. With a visual experience, it is easy for customers to filter through and choose a brand they feel more engaged with for a purchase. This is especially true for industries that produce commodities which latch onto to the individual’s personality and in time, molds them to become the epitome of the brand. Think about sneaker culture, jewelry designs, cut-to-fit apparel, automobile club culture, internet communities like subreddits to come together, celebrities taking personal requests to perform, dating apps bringing people one step closer and so much more. With virtual reality the sky is simulated into a limitless entity and the earth beneath us is literally being pulled right underneath our feet. That said, are you ready to tinker and play with reality virtually?