Concepts such as virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) have long been mainstays of science fiction. Today, such immersive technologies are here, and they demand to be noticed. Having access to such powerful and advanced tools presents an intriguing proposition for marketers. Strategies and campaigns that were otherwise impractical or impossible are now a very real possibility. Although we’re not quite at Tron level of immersion, it’s still possible to showcase products and experiences using highly stimulating VR and AR. In this article we’ll look at the potential immersive technology has, some campaigns that have effectively used it, and some ideas for how to plan for it.
The figures can’t lie; the VR and AR markets are set to see massive growth over the next few years. With the user base there, the potential for marketing to them is obvious. The restraints of established techniques are no longer relevant; you can provide a sample of a product or experience without having to deliver it directly into users’ hands. VR makes it possible to see a destination without having to travel, whilst AR means you can see how a new product fits into your existing environment. Having this level of engagement, without the need for expensive trips or prototypes, captures the imaginations of customers and prompts an emotional response—a both memorable and highly valuable experience.
This technology isn’t waiting around, and neither are the marketers who have embraced it. There have already been some high-profile campaigns that have made use of immersive technology:
- The New York Times – The Displaced. By distributing over 1 million Google Cardboard devices, the New York Times was able to provide users with an immersive experience of the lives of three child refugees. It was a powerful editorial piece, as well as an excellent marketing opportunity.
- Merrell – Trailscape. For the launch of their latest hiking boot, Merrell created an experience where users could navigate a dangerous mountain trail from anywhere using VR. It made excellent use of immersive technology, capturing users’ movements as they navigated the trail. Memorable, fun, and fantastic marketing.
- The Walking Dead – Shelter. To promote Season 5 of The Walking Dead, Austrian TV network Sky Austria used an augmented reality campaign on a tram shelter. Not only is it hilarious to watch unsuspecting commuters come face-to-face with a zombie apocalypse, it’s also a brilliant way of viral marketing for the show.
Planning an Immersive Reality Campaign
You may well be clamoring to get your experiential marketing campaign up and running, ready to plug yourself into the VR matrix. But not so fast, Neo. There are a few things you need to consider first:
- Added value. Before you plan your VR or AR campaign, you need to first determine what value it will bring. Will your target audience embrace this form of advertising? Is it something that can only be done using immersive technology? These are considerations you need to make; you need to consider ROI.
- Determine objectives. What is it you hope to achieve by using this advertising medium? Unfortunately, awesomeness isn’t a measurable metric yet. Therefore, you need to have some tangible figures and measurements in mind.
- Find your USP. Don’t use immersive technology for the sake of it. You have to determine what your USP is, and why this needs to be explored in VR. Customers will only participate in campaigns like these if they feel they will benefit from it.
- Be creative. We’ve already explored the potential that immersive technology brings. As such, you need to really explore the new horizons on offer. Use your creativity to plan something truly amazing, and trust in a specialist agency to help deliver the results.
It’s clear to see that the huge potential of VR and AR is already being utilized successfully for marketing campaigns. With the hardware expected to improve and progress at a rapid rate, you can’t afford to ignore the possibilities that immersive technology presents. By taking a structured and thoroughly researched approach, it’s possible for you to create a truly memorable