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What’s Virtual-Reality Marketing and why it’s named the Next Big Advertising Medium?

Marketing and advertising has moved from radio to TV, to computer, from Desktop to mobile in everyone’s pocket — each one a paradigm shift.

What’s next?

Many people arguing it to be wearable devices (e.g., smart watch), but I wouldn’t call the leap to wearable devices a paradigm shift as it’s not as significant as the way that desktop to mobile was. Wearable devices hold many of the same challenges for marketers that mobile does. Small screen, limited real estate, an intimate space; all the problems marketers used to be tackling for the past years, but amplified.

In terms of next marketing’s revolution, my money is on the shift from personal computing to Virtual Reality.

Mark Zuckerberg made a $2 billion bet on Oculus VR — kicking off a series of investments and start-ups in the burgeoning field. Early this year, Piper Jaffray Cos., an investment bank and asset management firm, said virtual reality will be the “next mega tech theme” and grow into a market worth $60 billion in 10 years.

Take a look at the VR market ecosystem map below to get a better understanding of all the different players and how the whole ecosystem fits together.

However, with so many players in the VR ecosystem, there’re still many obstacles avoiding VR to be widely adopted by the mass:

  1. Most VR device require cables
  2. The set-up is convoluted
  3. The screen resolution is not high enough
  4. No enough good VR content available
  5. It’s too expensive for a mass user

Nevertheless, with the evolution of the respective technologies — especially on the hardware side — Virtual Reality should be ready for mass market in 5 to 10 years.

But all the above obstacles shouldn’t be a problem when it comes to leveraging Virtual Reality as a revolutionized marketing/branding solution.

Every new technologies surprise people at their early stages while also being not feasible to be owned personally. Think about the computer, it used to be a giant machine that can only be bought by organizations instead of purchased and owned by a single person. The same goes to VR technologies, now it’s also in a similar situation as where computer was in the middle of last century.

There’re reasons why more and more brands and businesses start considering using VR as a marketing tool:

  1. It’s a brand new way of story telling. Instead of inviting people to read an ad or watch a TVC, VR technology build a world that people can actively explore by themselves.
  2. It’s not just eye-catching, it’s totally Immersive. Going into environments that the consumer heretofore never had access and just blow them away.
  3. It’s just the high-tech feeling that matters. Compared to traditional advertising, it enables brands to gain reputations as “Cool” and “Innovative”.

In fact, there’re already some innovative marketers and brands started leveraging VR as a marketing tool, here’re some examples:

The North Face

One of the major marketing uses of virtual reality is to provide customers with experiences that will convince them to physically visit a location or event. Not all brands, however, have physical locations or events to market. In these cases, virtual reality can be used to market a lifestyle.

Earlier this year North Face unveiled virtual reality experiences in its Manhattan store. Viewers were able to experience hiking, rock-climbing and base-jumping through virtual reality. The goal was to excite shoppers about the outdoors, and then for them to use the company’s gear on their next adventure.


In June, Zumba released a 360-degree virtual reality exercise video led by company co-founder Alberto Perez. The video shows Perez leading a three-and-a-half-minute class, and was shot in a way that allows viewers to either participate in the routine or mimic what it’s like to teach a class. With the release of the virtual reality experience, Zumba can market to both first-timers and those interested in becoming instructors.

Marriott International

Last summer, Marriott rolled out its own virtual reality experiences as part of its “Travel Brilliantly” campaign. For one aspect of the campaign, Marriott built large booths, dubbed “Teleporters,” that transported viewers into virtual reality versions of London and Hawaii. In addition to virtually experiencing a location, the company enhanced the experience by adding heat and mist.

Michael Dail, vice president of Marriott Hotels brand marketing, told Wired his company hopes people will become inspired by the experience and decide to book a trip. He added that another goal of the campaign was to help the hotel group build credibility with younger, often more tech-savvy, travelers.

Gulliver (IOIO Creative)

In IOIO Creative, we believes curiosity is the foundation of creative and innovation and seeing the world without physical limitation is a natural curiosity of all human beings.

So we build Gulliver, a 360° Real-Time Voyage that allows you to change your perspective and see the world differently.

The innovative part of this VR project is the real miniature we used to enhance immersiveness and interactivity.

The difference between a miniature world and computer generated world is significant. The texture and materiality they see through the screen will bring them closer to reality, which they will reckon it is actual object in the reality instead of the, now common, virtual world in computer. This system will provide a flexible and empowering ground for us to easily tailor unique situation for every client.

Good news is that VR marketing is still in a relatively early stage, and it opens a door for creative marketers letting their imaginations run wild with lots of possibilities.

Finally, let me end up this article with a video about Gulliver participating the Tokyo Game Show.

Please leave your comments or message me to discuss more possibilities in making communication more interesting. :)