Immersing Your Customer – Virtual Reality
Every marketer’s dream is to derive maximum engagement between their potential customers and their marketing tools. While email marketing may still be effective at reaching customers, and live video is assuming its place, a question usually remains of how impactful and memorable the user experience is.
Some of this question may soon be eliminated by marketing via virtual reality.
“Mobile is the first widely-beloved computer platform, but it’s not the end of the line,” Mark Zuckerberg, who is currently experimenting with Facebook Live and who also owns Oculus said in a late 2015 interview.
The Oculus Rift, available for checkout at several UW Madison libraries, is one of the most popular virtual reality viewers.
Virtual Reality has several distinct advantages for marketers.
VR solves problems with the following advantages, according to a white paper by Mbryonic:
- Immersive – users wearing a headset are completely immersed in your content meaning fewer distractions and more attention on your message.
- Impactful – the direct nature of VR means the intensity of experience is greater than traditional media generating strong emotions in its users and proven to result in behavior change.
- Memorable – our brains are built to remember events linked to locations, this means that VR experiences have a much longer trace in the user’s memory.
- Novel – with high media and public interest in VR early adopters can benefit from favorable media exposure for their spend currently.
Wayne’s tips on marketing with VR:
1. Use VR in conjunction with your other marketing efforts.
If you have an effective email list, don’t hesitate to email your potential customers with a link to your VR experience, especially if you think it could be an emotional tipping experience. If you have a large Facebook following, ensure you publicize your experience there as well. It should be a novel experience that they will appreciate.
2. Experiment with combining tactics during implementation.
Live video is just being recognized for it’s marketing potential and VR certainly has yet to see its marketing heyday. Here is a 360 video recording of Sir Paul McCartney’s performance at Candlestick Park. Soon, more recordings like this will be offered live and in 3d simultaneously.
3. Don’t forget what you already know about marketing.
If you believe that a virtual reality experience will gain a tremendous viewership, use what you know about product placement to boost your brand image. While a billboard inside a VR experience may help to a small degree, there are many other options ie. 12 college students skydiving with an elephant painted with your brands logo. Creativity is your friend here.
4. Don’t assume your brand isn’t a fit.
The winner of the 2015 Masters in Marketing award was cheese supplier Boursin. Cheese might not be the first thing that comes to mind when thinking about effective use of virtual reality. But Boursin made it work by taking viewers through an immersive experience through the inside of what might be the world’s coolest refrigerator. They allowed viewers to see the experience in malls and at events in the UK during a 6-city tour. See the tour here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XRik3h5M-qU
5. Time is on your side
Google Cardboard was Google’s first attempt to bring VR to those who can’t afford a current Oculus Rift or a Sony unit. Soon they will also offer Google Daydream. Time invested now in understanding virtual reality marketing will likely pay off as VR finds deeper penetration in the market. Goldman Sachs has predicted 55.8 million VR users by the close of 2016, and that’s likely to grow. “Marketers should remember that this is a medium whose rules are still being written,” writes Ad Age. But many of the current barriers to VR advertising will likely be reduced by consumer and industry trends.
6. Expect the Expected
Because VR marketing is relatively new, we can expect successful tactics from other mediums to be tried in VR, for instance, VR commercial spots inside VR streams. Interesting partnerships between content providers and advertisers will likely continue to evolve such that the most compelling content is matched with the advertisers who have the largest advertising budgets. It seems that even in VR, content will remain king.
“People are getting richer and richer tools to express themselves and experience content,” Mark Zuckerberg says. And we know marketers will find richer ways to occupy this space.
Wayne Emery is a nontraditional marketing and information systems student at UW Madison who has practiced photojournalism, broadcasting, media relations, internet marketing and information technology. He can be reached on twitter at @datasplat