This past week, I attended the VRTO Visual & Augmented Reality Conference
held in Toronto and found it to be a fantastic learning experience. I was able to get my hands on the latest VR tech and chat with industry experts doing work in this rapidly growing field.
While many of us understand the applications of this technology for entertainment purposes, the uses for VR (Virtual Reality)
and AR (Augmented Reality)
in a marketing context are markedly less obvious. As VR and AR become ever closer to achieving mass-market adoption there are a growing number of opportunities to use this technology to forge a strong connection with your customer.
1.) Immersive Video
If you’ve used social media recently, you have likely already been exposed to an immersive video
. These videos are shot with a special kind of camera (or camera array) that captures the entire environment around the camera rather than just one narrow cone of its vision – much like what google maps does with its street view.
These videos are – as VR technology goes – extremely accessible and can be viewed with almost any smartphone (either on its own or through the use of relatively cheap Google Cardboard
or Samsung Gear VR headsets
) and can be employed in a number of contexts, such as showcasing the ground-floor experience of sporting events
to original video content
. While they have an obvious experiential advantage when compared to traditional video, they also lend themselves to repeated viewing, as watching the same video from a different perspective can be a completely different experience.
2.) VR Attention-Grabbers
At this point in its product life-cycle, interactive VR experiences are far from commonplace. This means that by their very nature they will often attract a great deal of attention; whether they are employed in public, in a retail environment, or at a trade-show.
One of the great things about VR is that you never know what to expect. You can see a hundred people put on a headset and go through the same experience but not fully understand it until you put the headset on yourself. For this reason, VR experiences have a tendency to keep people interested for much longer than an equivalent physical display or activity would.
3.) Augmented Reality
Augmented reality experiences can help ease your customers’ anxieties during every part of their purchasing journey. Consider the IKEA Augmented Reality catalogue
, which allowed users to superimpose IKEA furniture into their homes using their smartphone cameras. This allowed them to determine which pieces would fit into their home both in terms of space as well as aesthetics. This brilliant use of AR – which reached 8.5 million downloads – provided IKEA with a strong competitive advantage.
Augmented reality can also take physical display ads to the next level. Consider these examples from the US
as well as Romania
in which viewers were able to fend off an alien invasion while waiting for the bus or get crushed by a car while walking through the mall, respectively. By integrating the real world in some way, these ads were able to seamlessly draw viewers into the experience.
Zach is a recent graduate of the Schulich School of Business MBA program, where he specialized in both Marketing and Arts and Media Administration. He is passionate about the connections between branding, entertainment, and technology. He can be reached directly by email at email@example.com or through twitter @ZachGoldglas.