2016 has seen marketers and digital innovators using virtual reality applied in some truly innovative ways. From travel to retail, some of the biggest brands in the world are using immersive technology to tell their stories. However, some of the driving forces behind these big brands are the marketing agencies. It is important for agencies to understand all channels of marketing so they can put together the best packages for their clients.
We speak with Nick Morey from DynamoPR to get his insight into how VR technology is shaping marketing and where he sees the VR industry being in five years.
Well really there are a number of elements to be excited by – headset wise, there’s a lot to be said for the mobile experience, simply due to sheer accessibility and the ‘out of the box’ nature of it, with the entry-level experience giving brands the opportunity to reach a wide consumer base, fast. However, this of course does come with the limitations of the processing power of the mobile in question, so I guess the comparison would be clever campaigns on a budget – working within the restrictions of what is physically possible. I’m expecting some of the more ‘wow’ factor high end spectacles to come from experiences like the HTC Vive, and also the pioneering technology and graphics with the accompanying software – we’ve already started to experience this in the work we’ve done with NVIDIA for example, when creating the Everest experience for journalists last year.
Absolutely! Much like with mobile and apps before them, we are looking for a brand to create that killer app that makes people sit up and take notice, and realise what the platform is capable of. 15 years ago it was weird if a brand didn’t have a website, in the past five years (and perhaps longer) it was unusual for a major brand to not have an app, and potentially, in the next 5-10, the same could be said for VR.
It will likely take the channel of mobile apps optimised for a Google Cardboard like experience (which we are already seeing), but the first big brand to really nail VR are going to be celebrated hugely and lift the platform up as a whole. Look at what John Lewis did for Christmas adverts – in the last five years, all the major brands have really stepped up their game in terms of spectacle and creativity, and with something as immersive as VR, creative agencies will be competing to create experiences full of clever ways to draw consumers in.
The greatest opportunity around the platform as far as I can see at the moment is allowing someone to experience something they couldn’t otherwise, or giving a demo before a customer commits to purchase. We’re already seeing property, hotel and travel industries adopt this, as static images pale in comparison to bringing someone into your environment and creating that desire to be at the location. Also, customers can have the freedom to examine individual objects, pick things up, and explore at their leisure. This gives more room for enticing, intricate detail, as opposed to a video that has to keep a certain pace for fear of dropping engagement levels.
Potentially, it could be trying to do too much too soon. With the exciting prospects that come with the VR platform, it’s likely that some brands will miss the mark, trying to cram too much movement into an experience, which can be jarring for the user and cause sickness. There’s a lot that can be taken from the games industry in this respect – brands would do well to visit some game dev sessions and learn what goes into their creative process, they’ll learn what pacing works for what purpose, and how to balance an interesting, engaging experience with something that doesn’t feel too unrealistic.
Coachella has been garnering a lot of attention for their use of VR recently. Providing ticket users with VR headsets that work with mobile is a great plug for the brand. The companion app that allows people to experience the festival, have 360 tours and access to exclusive content is a genius way to ramp up excitement ahead of the festival itself – and considering their audience are largely millennial, early-adopter, and incredibly vocal on social media, they’ve given them a platform to become brand advocates before they’ve even set foot in the field! For a festival that prides itself on being young and cutting edge, this completely aligns itself with their brand image and is a great example of a brand getting it right, early on.
Of course the live demonstrations are up there for me! Despite multiple experiences of VR, the novelty, thankfully, has not yet worn off. Also, I’m interested in the ‘is VR right for my product?’ talk. Coming from an agency, and working on a mixture of VR and non-VR projects, this something that comes up frequently from clients, internal discussions and brainstorms. As well as often having to offer consultancy on this myself, it’d be good see how other specialists in the field react to the question that everyone seems to be asking!
I think (and hope) we will start to see the integration of more multi-user experiences. Although we talk about VR as something immersive and interactive, what actually transpires the majority of the time, perhaps down to technological limitations, is very much a solo experience. Being able to bring multiple virtual users into the same environment will vastly grow the creative options available to a campaign, and that is exciting to me!