Virtual reality headsets may be the key to exploring new worlds, but they’re also a hidden gem for marketers looking to deliver memorable messages to curious consumers.
The expanding horizon of VR and AR marketing.
From 360-degree video to virtual tours and interactive games, VR and AR marketing is rapidly becoming an exciting way to engage audiences with branded content. Big names like Time Warner, TBS and Google have already jumped on board, and with a projected $120 billion in combined AR/VR revenue by 2020, it’s easy to see why.
360-degree video merges stage and story.
YouTube has supported 360-degree video since March 2015, opening the doors to inventive experimentation both on desktops and on mobile. As it gains popularity, 360-degree video is breaking that ever-present fourth wall between audiences and their favorite content.
A great example comes from the creatives behind a popular talk show. Peppering the official YouTube channel for Conan on TBS, 360-degree videos offer fans the best seat in the house for interviews and performances. With this strategy in hand, VR and AR present the perfect stage for brands to engage audiences and make them feel like they’re part of the story.
Immersive games offer fresh appeal.
In 2015, Cartoon Network launched a VR experience based on the animated series Adventure Time. As a novel VR game adapted from the popular television show, it featured an original story and a full voice-over from the cast of the show.
“This first-to-market virtual reality game joins a roster of other industry-leading apps and digital experiences that have made Cartoon Network the first choice for plurals looking for highly engaging games and new content experiences,” said Christina Miller, president and GM of Cartoon Network, Adult Swim and Boomerang.
The game presented a great opportunity to connect with existing viewers, as well as those hungry for another way to consume the network’s content. It serves as an example of repurposing popular content through new platforms to keep brand messaging fresh and interesting.
Trying products in a whole new way.
Instead of immersing a viewer into a completely VR world, AR offers a digital overlay on real-world scenes that add elements of surprise. This engages audiences in a way that is both interactive and inventive, while still having roots in reality.
“Try before you buy” scenarios, where a customer can actually see how a product would look in their world, gives brands a unique platform for presenting products. This application also extends well into the realm of entertainment for a truly engaging experience with advertising opportunities.
Enter the Pokémon Go phenomenon.
One excellent example of AR success is the mobile app Pokémon Go. According to SensorTower, IOS users in the U.S. spend over 33 minutes per day in the app, which is impressive when considering they spend just over 22 minutes per day on Facebook. In addition to its overall popularity, the app provides a unique opportunity for in-game advertising rewards that increase profits without disrupting the experience.
“With almost two-thirds of Pokémon Go players in the 18 to 24 ‘Millennial’ market, brands should embrace the opportunity this presents to target a market that typically tends to reject direct advertising,” stated Jens Nielsen, head of UK operations for Netbooster. Seamlessly incorporating advertisements into such a successful app puts brands on the path towards valuable engagement and exposure.
Content marketing and beyond.
With VR and AR technology at their disposal, brands have the ability to reach customers in inventive ways, such as allowing them to try on items or examine a product up close, all within a virtual space.
Companies can also offer in-app rewards that are only discoverable in AR and VR universes, which will keep consumers coming back. As the state of technology morphs into something even more impressive, marketers must stay on top of these trends to reach audiences in ways that they least expect.