2016 has been a big year for virtual reality. Ever since Facebook’s acquisition of Oculus in 2014, consumers have been eagerly anticipating the development of VR technology and content. Most weren’t disappointed when everything came to fruition this year. HTC and Oculus have been duking it out with the Vive and the Rift respectively, and with the Oculus Touch nearing imminent release, it seems the two companies will be on a level playing field with regards to their roles as leaders in the VR industry. This is good news for the gaming industry; as more and more content comes into development, VR for the home is quickly rising in popularity. This isn’t the only industry to benefit from VR, however. More businesses are recognising how virtual reality can be used, and exploring how the immersive experience offered by this technology can benefit them. One of those at the forefront of this trend is the marketing industry.
Virtual reality is clearly going to be further embraced as the technology becomes more sophisticated and refined and the infrastructure to support it grows. With the profusion of smartphones and mobile devices, this will certainly continue as newer technologies continue to hit the market. It therefore comes as no surprise that VR is being introduced into the marketing amalgam to offer more options when it comes to brand promotion. It will no doubt be interesting to see how VR marketing sits alongside the traditional mix of online and offline marketing methods.
There are a number of different ways in which marketing is harnessing the power of VR and augmented reality to bring products and services directly to their customers in a more tangible way than ever before. The most prominent technique in this regard is the 360-degree video, which allows viewers a completely panoramic, uninterrupted vista of the scenario in question. Marketers are able to use this technology to promote real estate companies by offering guided tours without the client having to leave their home. The same applies to travel and holidays – with a VR headset, prospective holiday-goers can experience a snippet of their getaway before deciding on a destination.
There are many other ways to seamlessly merge marketing and virtual reality as well. Giving away branded Google Cardboard headsets is a common sight, as well as turning actual packaging into a headset, à la McDonald’s and Coca-Cola. Speaking of which, Coca-Cola became well-known for their virtual sleigh ride promotion, which was housed in a glimmering, lit-up truck last Christmas in Poland. Other brands have likewise jumped at the opportunity that VR provides: Soft cheese manufacturer, Boursin, created a joyous virtual reality video which takes place inside a fridge, Topshop gave fashion fans a chance to witness a runway show during London Fashion Week, and Volvo provided a virtual test drive of their XC90 SUV. Watch the video below to see how they looked.
Making these videos entails some thought and consideration, however. Not only do you need the correct equipment, which is expensive and requires certain expertise to handle, but you have to factor in the post production process. A VR film involves extensive editing, cutting, stitching and uploading. This is a time-consuming endeavour, especially considering that you will be operating no less than four cameras! The takeaway is worth it, however, and you will come away with a highly interactive marketing experience guaranteed to hold the attention of all prospective viewers and clients.