Virtual Reality: Marketing Revolution

With the ultra-stiff competition for attention spans in the realm of digital marketing, the need for developing truly creative and engaging content has increasingly become of paramount importance for brands and companies.

And because virtual reality (VR) technology is the world’s shiny new toy, there is no doubt that those utilizing the technology will have a leg up on the competition when it comes to the impact this type of content has on consumers.

And though, in its developing stages, virtual reality is currently a relatively expensive investment (with Forrester Research pegging VR content creation often starting at $500,000), the benefits when it comes to fully engaging an audience has made some of the biggest companies (Facebook, Samsung, Google, HTC) betting big that virtual reality is the realm where the world of digital marketing will eventually revolve around.

The Science

The appeal of virtual reality in content marketing doesn’t only lie in the fact that’s it’s the latest trend in the ever-changing digital landscape.

As noted by marketing automation software company Marketo, people are wired to respond to virtual reality experiences, appealing to three parts of the brain responsible for people’s perceptions and reactions: neocortex (higher-level thinking), limbic system (emotion, behavior, motivation), and reptilian brain (primitive instincts).

Virtual reality’s ability to fully immerse and engage audiences allows VR technology to appeal to three mentioned brain parts — something that is unlike any other content marketing media.

As pointed out by Inc., the early stages of virtual reality technology, particularly when it comes to content marketing, is akin to the early days of the internet — when the potential for companies both big and small appears to be limitless.

Virtual Reality Done Right

Early adopters of virtual reality content marketing have given us a glimpse of its many possibilities. Here are some samples of how brands have taken advantage of the immersive VR experience to turn audiences’ engagement into a digital marketing win.

Try before you buy

As pointed out by digital marketing consultancy firm Convince&Convert, IKEA and Carnival Cruise have allowed their customers to “try before they buy” using VR technology.

IKEA’s VR kitchen experience let their customers remodel their kitchens in a virtual environment where they could interact with the kitchen as though they were standing in the middle of it. Their virtual kitchen also lets customers to change its different elements (colors, styles), which allows them to see exactly how their remodeled kitchen would look before they buy it.

Similarly, Carnival Cruise’s 360-video took their customers on a virtual Caribbean holiday that showed them exactly how a prospective cruise with the company would look like, thus enticing them to go on one immediately.

If you could be thrust in a virtual environment that could give you a three dimensional idea of the experience that awaits, wouldn’t you be more inclined to make that experience reality?

The numbers

According to Marketo, virtual reality in digital marketing is set to takeoff in 2017, with the number of active VR users projected to reach 90 million (from 43 million in 2016), while the product revenue stemming from virtual reality content marketing is projected at $4.6 billion.

And consumer VR interest is on the uptick as well, with 75 percent interested in virtual reality experiences for live events, 74 percent for travel and tourism, 67 percent for movies and recorded video, 66 percent for home design, 64 percent for education, and 61 percent for gaming.

How to get started

While not every brand has the resources to invest in an elaborate virtual reality content like Dos Equis’ “Masquerade Party,” there are less expensive ways to gauge both how you can integrate VR content to your digital marketing efforts, and what your audience’s response could be.

Make a 360 video

Presently, 360 videos, just by its very nature, undoubtedly get more attention than regular videos.

You can also incorporate 360 videos in a myriad of ways (tours, branding, product testing, interactive interviews, etc.), giving your audience the most interactive viewing experience with multiple potential end goals in mind.

Cardboard headsets

McDonald’s was one of the first companies to provide their customers with branded cardboard VR headsets.

Taking a page from this is not only an inexpensive way to allow your audience to experience your VR content, you also double your customers’ experience with your brand because they are viewing your virtual reality content on your branded headset.

Takeaway

With the current competitive landscape in digital content marketing, brands and companies are facing tough challenges when it comes to consumer engagement and awareness.

But because virtual reality is still relatively a new technology, consumers are inclined to remember VR experiences more than traditional content. Add to that the VR experiences’ immersive and engaging nature (and that people are wired to respond to such content), then you get to address marketing challenges while keeping pace with evolving times.

Marketo described the yet to be tapped possibilities of virtual reality brilliantly, “If you can dream it, you can create it.” And when you create it, your audience can interact with it.

Take a look at your current content marketing strategy. See how you can incorporate virtual reality into it, because chances are, you definitely can.


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