If you are keeping up with recent trends, you’ve probably noticed that virtual reality (VR), as well as augmented reality, are quickly becoming viable marketing channels. Maybe you’re already considering using this technology for your marketing strategy, and you should, as the VR market is predicted to be worth over $500 billion US by 2024.1 Using virtual reality as a marketing tool generates buzz for your brand at tradeshows and delivers memorable experiences for clients. Understanding the features of the technology will help you create concepts and content that appeal to clients and users.
There is a difference between virtual reality and augmented reality. VR involves creating an immersive world for users. It simulates a physical or imagined experience, so users feel like they are physically in the environment they are experiencing. Augmented reality involves incorporating digital elements into our already existing reality, instead of creating a new reality, like VR does.
The first virtual reality systems and headsets for gaming sprung up in the mid 1990s. The usability and practicality of the technology developed throughout the early 2000s. In 2012, a prototype of Oculus Rift, one of the first commercially popular headsets in the current VR landscape, was created. Facebook purchased Oculus Rift in 2014, and Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg intended to expand the technology for social and communication purposes, in addition to gaming. A couple of years later, more commercial headsets were released by several companies. Since the creation and commercial release of the improved headsets, they have been used for numerous purposes, including gaming, entertainment, treating mental health, engineering, and marketing.
Virtual reality has so many possibilities for content marketers that it is difficult to know where to start. Developing an engaging creative concept that takes advantage of VR, instead of one that could just as easily appear on a website or as a video, is the first step. Using the same method that you would to create content for a 2D medium will not be as effective. VR experiences should be interactive and use 3D space, as these are features of the medium that are not possible with other types of content like video. Using these features, we can create an environment that users want to explore and interact with.
Using virtual reality as a marketing tool also allows for the creation of a cohesive content strategy, where you can include one or more custom pieces of content which are in line with your content marketing strategy. For example, you can create a video or audio component about your brand, which users will see or hear. As they move through the VR experience and interact with your brand or product, their experience will be informed by these other pieces of custom content.
VR allows you to shape the user’s experience and tailor it to your goal. Setting and then meeting users’ expectations will help you reach your business goals.
Virtual reality is very useful for brand awareness. As the technology is still on the cutting edge, the experience is a novelty. This generates buzz and attention around brands that use it at tradeshows and other events. Use it to attract users and audiences, regardless of what your brand is selling. Potential clients will seek out your booth to try VR, so you can easily introduce a new product or your brand to a targeted group of potential clients through VR.
Virtual reality also has potential for brand storytelling, as you can allow users to participate in stories connected to your brand. Sources for stories could be human connections surrounding your brand. Tom’s Shoes has a great example of brand storytelling for VR. Users joined founder Blake Mycoskie on a trip to Peru to give out shoes to children in need. The story is emotional, grabs users, and shows the impact of the Tom’s Shoes brand.
Another reason to use virtual reality as a marketing tool is the endless possibilities for almost every industry, including healthcare, education, pharma, and real estate. It can be used for different types of marketing as well, such as e-commerce, product launches, and product demonstrations.
Pace Creative has experience in creating VR projects. For example, we developed a VR experience as part of a product launch at a tradeshow. The experience demonstrated the use of a medical device, showing potential clients how the device worked, to promote brand awareness and lead generation.
There are many opportunities to use virtual reality as a marketing tool. If you are creative with the concept and execute it extremely well, you can delight users and potential clients with a memorable experience. It’s a great opportunity to get creative with your brand storytelling.