Virtual Reality is the Ultimate Consumer Insights Tool
At Retinad, we have been able to navigate the turbulent waters of the VR industry for the last four years and our mission has been to unearth the ROI of VR advertising campaigns. But we have discovered that problems remains a small, difficult one to solve— plus our friends at @Admix.in are doing a great job ;).
Instead, what we have discovered while working on deep research with the likes of YuMe, Yahoo! and Havas on their VR advertising creative, is the fact that that there remains no golden standard for consumer insights research for advertising, regardless of the medium it is shown on. One need look no further than socially tone-deaf ad campaigns released en-masse over the last few years to see the outcome of a poorly consumer-researched campaign.
The standard for consumer insights research is even more murky when you dive into traditional media across the web, mobile and even television.
Over the last four years, we identified a reoccurring theme whereby companies would reach out to us wanting to leverage our plug&play VR analytics platform, instead they needed, at a top-level, a rigorous scientific research platform by way of surveys instruments, the ability to assemble focus groups and clever data scientists to harvest reports, data interpretation and custom insights. When we started to looking to outsourcing this process, we were floored by the quotes we were given to conduct these studies by traditional firms.
For those who are unfamiliar with the current state of consumer insights research, this is a 46 Billion Dollar industry that relies on:
- dedicated real estate in the form of testing centers
- aging hardware
- inefficient and unreliable sampling processes
- mediocre results
- long turnaround time
Most importantly, it is a service exclusively reserved for Fortune 500’s who can stomach the six-figure spend, while waiting months for a deliverable.
This way of doing business is completely antiquated and can be changed through virtual reality. It is our prediction that virtual reality will enable the next great wave of consumer insights research, services, products and outcomes. In short, The lack of available insights has left the advertising landscape intrusive, out of touch with their real demographic, and wasting valuable ad-spend on uninterested viewers.
Introducing: AdMetrix, The Consumer Insights Tool Powered by VR
We think the current landscape for consumer research is broken. Complex studies and existing research methodologies have led to lackluster results and messy data, leaving brands navigating in the dark when launching a campaign.
We also feel a lightweight consumer research platform can tap into an incredible opportunity: agencies and brands looking to optimize and test their campaigns pre-launch now have an affordable, dead-simple option at their disposal.
Using the power of virtual reality we have been able to harness expensive biometric tools such as eye-tracking, facial recognition, GSR, EEG and other lab-grade equipment into a streamlined service, helping drastically reduce costs on traditional consumer research.
Now brands of any size and targeting any consumer market, can make sense of any creative asset that they want to display to the public, from traditional 16:9 video ads, mobile and web ads all the way to bleeding-edge immersive content. Virtual reality is the gateway to being able to replace expensive, outdated focus groups, surveys and consumer insights research conducted by the likes of Ipsos Reid, CBS Television City and more.
Virtual Reality is A Widely Distributed Scientific Research Device
Specifically, virtual reality headsets can offer everything a consumer insights lab can offer, but at tremendous scale. Virtual reality headsets today can be outfitted with comprehensive biometric hardware such as eye-tracking, EEG sensors, heart rate monitors, facial expression and movement capture.
Each of these components has historically been an individual device costing thousands of dollars, each relying on its own proprietary software and data ingestion. iMotion, a brilliant company out of Boston helped solve these siloed biometric tools by creating an entire SaaS platform & marketplace that consolidated these independent tools to one single adaptable dashboard, forcing them to play nice with each other — like a segment.io for biometric hardware. Despite this progress, the consumer insights research industry is still handcuffed to an inherently outdated model.
The way we see it, virtual reality headsets are the perfect housing for these biometric tools. For example, headsets with integrated eye-tracking and EEG are now sold at a fraction of the cost of each of these systems independently. More so, through the accelerometer data in the headsets, we can understand a user’s movement and behavior as they view any creative asset.
Even more, the data being fed through these headsets are aggregated to one consistent platform, reducing the time required to consolidate, triage and parse through the data. Even more exciting is the fact that there are millions of VR devices distributed right now, so accessing a panel of consumers is no longer a difficult and costly process. We are now capable of offering an entire consumer research lab, at scale.
AdMetrics: How Does it Work?
We know a lot goes into running an effective ad, from the creative process to the production to the distribution.
With our new AdMetrix product we have created a simple platform that allows brands to select the type of research they require, including requirements related to demographics, sample size and survey formats.
The last step is to upload the creative, and voilà, Lab-grade insights and analytics are delivered within days, not weeks or months.
On the user side, they are able to access the AdMetrix app from any VR device they have at home (Google Cardboard, GearVR, Oculus Go etc). The user is placed inside a virtual cinema room, where the creative asset is displayed on a large screen and they are show one or several advertisements. Their behavior is recorded via the VR headset and fed to our analytics platform.
Interpreting Brand Lift
With Ad-Metrix we are capable of interpreting brand recall, recognition, purchase intent, and brand favorability. These metrics are gathered via pre / post advertisement survey and correlated with the behavioral data that was collected by way of the VR headset.
Even more exciting is the ability to extract where exactly a user looked (through a visual heatmap), for how long, and correlate that to a user’s sentiment throughout the advertisement. E.g. At time interval t=0:25, did how were most users feeling?
Through our trained computer vision algorithms we can surface the most viewed people, objects and items in a video and show the touch points for each of those.
Brands even have the additional option of recording their users’ voice to gather an additional layer of feedback as to their reaction and sentiment throughout the video.
The incentive for users is similar to any consumer insights panel / focus group/ research: they are compensated monetarily for their time and number of ads watched & surveys completed. The business model is very similar to Google’s Consumer Insights tool, in that way. Thus far, in closed beta we have had dozens of brands pilot their creative assets with us, in doing so we’ve managed to cut the traditional research time by 70% and cut costs by 80%.