Marketers are going to ruin VR, but that might be OK.
There is no doubt about it, marketers are going to ruin VR. They do it to everything. Their job is to go where the eyeballs go and then burn their message into retinas so it’s imprinted in people’s subconscious. They’ve done it with every other piece of technology and they’ll do it with VR.
I think that 360° video is first (which usually gets conflated with VR) so it won’t be too long before an ad on Youtube will be a 360° experience for Coca-Cola. Eventually some marketer will come up with the idea that a VR app or WebVR ‘experience’ will be a great way to shift some RedBull.
Quick Note: RedBull, if you were to give away some google cardboard headsets and create a VR experience to ride along with Daniel Riccardo in an F1 car, I’d be picking up some.
This shouldn’t be news to anyone. Sometimes marketers jump too soon, like we saw with QR codes, and they made them uncool far too quickly (QR codes are fucking amazing BTW). VR’s been more about games than anything else at the moment, but as WebVR and Cardboard headsets are adopted more and more, it wont be long before there are VR ad campaigns.
So whats the upside?
When VR becomes viable for marketing, then VR becomes more acceptable to your average consumer. When VR hits Playstation in the coming months there are going to be millions of non-developers out there with the equipment to jump into it, and with the release of Daydream ready smartphones upon us, VR is going to be like Harambe memes… everywhere.
It’s probably not going to be hard to stand out, but its going to be important not to be disenfranchised by the boilerplate VR experiences that are going to consume Facebook feeds and the Twitters. Most of them are going to be fancy 360° videos, some are going to add a little bit of interaction, but very few are going to do anything innovative. Very few are going to create anything that you are going to want to share with friends or do repeatedly.
I don’t think that there is anything wrong with these, in fact I love them, but having accessible VR can mean so much more. Its more than just games, it’s the opportunity to tell stories, it can be educating and open up people’s minds to something that they might not necessarily be exposed to. It’s a whole new medium, a new way to distribute information in a way that can wow and leave an imprint on people’s minds.
I know that there is going to be an influx of VR in the advertising world, it’s far to hard for them to resist doing it, but I like that. I don’t love advertising personally, but I accept the fact that it’s going to help the adoption of something I do love. The more millions of people with the ability to experience VR, the more people I can share stories and experiences with.
Shaun is the Virtual Head of Reality Innovations at Studio Zero and has been possibly spending too much time in worlds created with code.