So, What Is Virtual Reality?
VR is some of the latest and greatest from the computer and gaming industry, bringing users a fully-immersive, 3-D simulation of almost any and every experience. From budget (and user) friendly options like Google Cardboard to brands dedicated solely to the craft like Oculus (which has since been acquired by Facebook), Virtual Reality is becoming increasingly available to a wide variety of audiences.
How Marketers Can Take Advantage
We can only anticipate the continued evolution of this infiltration of marketing into virtual reality, but for now, there are a couple of basic ways that marketers can go from wondering "What is virtual reality?" to getting their brands in front of viewers through this technology.
With each game or activity, there is an opportunity for marketers. The simplest of which is a sponsorship. This allows brands to align with any type of activity or content they so choose and have their logo appear for 5-10 seconds within the virtual reality experience. This option is minimally invasive for consumers and, when done right, can be highly effective in generating brand awareness.
A secondary option that allows for more engagement with the user are 360* video ads. As the technology to view evolves, so does the technology to create, allowing for brands to create an experience for consumers in conjunction with a virtual reality activity. This is the perfect opportunity to provide tours of a new location or promote an upcoming event.
With Computer Graphic (CGI) capabilities, the marketing opportunity evolves into branded Virtual Reality activities that can stand alone, bringing content marketing to a new level as brands customize experiences for their consumers.
New Technology Brings New Challenges
As with any new technology, we as marketers have to consider how effective we can be with our messaging on that specific platform. Some questions we have to consider, outside of "What is virtual reality?", are:
How many people are actually using virtual reality technology?
Who are these people?
And most importantly,
How often are they using this technology?
Research firm, KZero, anticipates that up to 170 million people will be using VR software in 2018. Additionally, there are more than 250 applications currently available for different VR platforms and 200,000 developers have signed on to create apps for Oculus (The Motley Fool). Those numbers are not without obstacles, though.
As one would expect, the more you pay for a virtual reality system, the better the experience. Prices range from the $15 Google Cardboard that works with your smartphone, to stand alone software like Oculus reaching upwards of $400. With more than 55 percent of users lacking interest in purchasing a VR device because they do not find it “interesting or exciting,” we have to consider the limitations of the platform.
Secondly, 34 percent of users noted that if they wanted to experience something that is available in a VR program, they could also just experience it in real life. On the other hand, nearly two-thirds of U.S. internet users say that "using" a product via virtual reality would change the way they shop. This leaves marketers with both an opportunity to engage with consumers and a challenge to engage effectively.
What happens next?
The marketing opportunities with virtual reality software have only just begun. As the technology evolves, so will the strategies of reaching consumers on this platform. Before we know it, we will not be asking "What is virtual reality?", we will have already mastered marketing in that space and onto the next evolution.
FiG Advertising + Marketing, a Denver advertising agency, stays at the forefront of digital marketing advancements to help our clients optimize their online presence. Check out some of our cutting edge work.