The Promise of VR

Do NOT avert your eyes

Virtual reality has gone from bleeding edge technology to real world solutions for brands and agencies, in their quest to engage target audiences and make best use of “content.” By 2020, virtual reality is anticipated to grow into a $30 billion market. Many brands are just now venturing into the space, creating VR experiences to fulfill marketing, training, and product initiatives.

But what is VR?

Virtual reality, in simplest terms, empowers the audience to experience an event, location, or activity as if they’re there and watching, or even involved. This is called immersive presence. While viewing a virtual reality experience, a person can look around in first-person, seeing, hearing, and in some cases, interacting with the environment around them. The virtual worlds people might experience are created using panoramic images, 360° video, computer-generated content, and navigable UX.

What VR isn’t.

A 360 video does not make it VR.

John Patrick Pullen — Time Magazine
“I used the Samsung Gear VR headset to explore a collection of 360-degree experiences. In 20 minutes, I was able to explore Paris, tour a Carnival cruise ship, take in a catwalk view of Russia’s fashion week.”

Virtual reality requires 360° visual content, but you don’t necessarily need a VR headset to view it. The promise of the headset, in any practical form is likely still 2 or 3 years away. However, Google’s “DayDream” and Samsung’s Gear VR are making things VERY interesting.

But, in more commonplace applications, on desktops for instance, you can “look around” a 360° video or photo using a mouse or trackpad. On mobile phones, platforms us the internal gyroscope to recreate the 360° effect of when you move the phone in any direction.

Currently, the most popular platforms online are Facebook, YouTube, and even WordPress.

The projections are forecasting that 171 million people will be using VR ins some form of regularity by next year (2018). Moreover, statistics reveal:

When 1,300 U.S. consumers, ages 18–60 were asked…..

53% of consumers say they are more likely to purchase from a brand that sponsors a VR experience. 91% of users have an overwhelmingly positive feelings toward VR once they try it. 71% of consumers agree that a brand that sponsors VR is forward-thinking and modern.

So, for a brand, what is the promise of VR. What is the ROI?

  1. IMMERSIVE = STICKY / 10.4 minutes spent, on average, with a VR experience compared to just seconds on images & videos

VR immersion creates a sense of presence that enables users to feel as if they are actually at a location or event, or participating in an activity. Because viewers are following action or investigation, there are fewer distractions, less “bounce” and a much greater chance that a brand’s message will be seen, heard, and remembered.

3. MEMORABLE = AFFINITY

Our brains are hardwired to remember events that we experience directly, as opposed to those we hear about or see happen to others (i.e., a TV commercial). This is actually great news for brands interested in VR, because the experiences your audience has will feel exactly like a real-world event they participated in, making it actually more memorable.

2. IMPACTFUL = ACTIONABLE

VR experiences have the power to transport viewers, generating strong emotions in the process — more so than any other type of media. Which means VR is the ideal channel to employ as advertising and marketing continue to move away from selling features to selling emotions.

4. SCALABLE = COST EFFECTIVE

As more people adopt virtual reality, brands will have a cost-effective way to reach consumers with unique, immersive experiences. VR content is scalable across the entire marketing mix as well as internal engagement needs (think HR, recruiting, training). A brand spends a LOT on content, why not put it to use, rather than post it and forget it?

5. MEASURABLE AND ACTIONABLE = REVENUE

Creating stunning VR content is great, but not if you can’t measure its impact. As the industry continues to grow and mature, producers and distribution networks will need to show the positive impact of the content they create. With the right platofrm, you can get detailed engagement analytics about an experience on-demand to help optimize your content and increase ROI. Who is interested in you, what did they interact with and what did they buy and when did they buy it (think about retargeting or programmatic applications).

So, if you’ve only thought about VR as an expensive and bleeding edge offering, think again. You don’t need a VR headset to utilize interactive 360° content. Many platforms now support 360°, allowing you to deliver your message to audiences at scale across all devices and levels of “interaction.”

Lastly, in the digital marketing realm, we’ve found ways to use (AND RE-USE) VR content across a variety of different channels. No longer just a branding tool, but consider VR to drive exposure across the entire marketing mix, from experiential to programmatic display and mobile to social and influencer immersion.

If this spurred some thought, get in touch. I am @broadbandito just about everywhere.

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