Virtual reality (VR) is very much still in its infancy as a technology, and in many ways is yet to resonate with a vast majority of the public. Despite this, tech investors such as Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg are set to pump up to $3billion into VR over the next 10 years in a bid to make it accessible for all. So what exactly will VR be used for? In this blog we look at what the most likely outcomes might be, and why marketers need to sit up and take note.
What is VR being used for?
VR integrated into movie, concert and theatre settings has the potential to offer consumers a slice of what they are about to experience before they have even purchased a ticket, or even attend without having to actually be physically present. Differing from standard video content in that it enables consumers to actually live the experience in a video completely surrounding them, new VR cameras are already being created to capture these moments. For now this may be limited to creating snippets of content for people to enjoy ahead of an event itself, but in the future it is very possible that people will be able to attend concerts and shows entirely virtually.
At the moment countless 360-degree images are being posted across social media that allow the viewer to look around a certain place at a specific moment in time. Imagine, then, if this experience expanded to offer viewers the opportunity to visit a place and move around freely once there. This is where VR is heading. Virtual tourism is allowing people to explore places that they never thought possible – from the moon, to the earth’s deepest oceans, to capital cities across the globe. There is even talk of being able to revisit your favourite memories in VR and share them with your friends on social media. Similar to the entertainment sector, marketers will be able to offer a ‘try before you buy’ type experience to potential tourists and boost the desire they already have to visit a particular location even further in the process.
VR is set to take away all the risk and potentially unseen costs that come with design and redecoration projects. Imagine hiring an interior designer who can provide you with a virtual environment for you to walk around in and experience before any money has even been spent, or any modifications made. VR will enable people to see what their project will look like at the stage of completion before a single brush stroke has even been made. Thinking bigger, it is likely whole structures will also be designed in a virtual world prior to creation moving forward, meaning architects can explore their designs as if they were finished before they’ve even begun.
How Can Virtual Reality Help Marketers?
Nowadays we live in a digitally focused world where communication is instantaneous and notifications are frequent. Consumers are forever faced with mobile alerts, pop-ups and many other real-life distractions which can draw attention away from the message that marketers are often trying to convey. VR is a completely immersive experience, meaning consumers are exposed to fewer distractions and are essentially a captive audience submersed in the world laid out to them by their headsets, with all focus entirely on the statement marketers are looking to make.
VR is a very intense experience that doesn’t just show the user a situation, it enables them to literally feel it. This can generate much stronger emotions than more traditional video and image content, with the user far more likely to remember it as an emotionally charged experience and not just as a pretty picture or quirky film snippet taken in as they are scrolling past.
VR gives marketers the opportunity to place their message in essentially a location of their choice. Imagine taking the consumer to Mars, for example – it’s not something they are going to forget in a hurry. VR gives marketers the chance to give their target audience an experience that will stay in their memory for a long time and one that they will want to tell their friends about – something every marketer looks to achieve.
People often complain about pop-ups and adverts. VR is a technology that so far people seem to genuinely enjoy, and from a marketing perspective is something that consumers are likely to voluntarily step into, especially in these early stages where it is not commonplace. In giving people opportunity to experience VR and show them a message and not just tell it, they are far more likely to enjoy the experience, and resent less.
In short, Virtual Reality technology is opening-up all kinds of possibilities for industries across the board, and marketing professionals are no exception to this. The opportunities to harness this new technology and actively change the way in which messages are conveyed and engage followers emotionally in a brand are endless. VR is a channel which has to be considered moving forward.