Programmatic Virtual Reality: Sci-Fi In The Making

Imagine putting on your Oculus Rift virtual reality (VR) headset, immersed in a new universe via the EVE: Valkyrie space-fighting game. Buckled into your spaceship and awaiting blast-off, you scan your utilitarian cockpit, reviewing the highly realistic instruments and gauges.

Much like your spaceship in EVE, the entire medium of virtual reality is set for an explosive launch. For marketers, VR will open up entirely new and exciting ways to engage with customers. Also, by applying the efficiencies, targeting, and scale of programmatic media execution into the virtual reality medium, an entirely new and exciting mode of customer engagement is born.

Back in your spaceship, imagine looking down at your watch. It’s a Garmin Forerunner—or, since you’re in a higher income bracket as identified by integrated third-party data in the “real world,” it’s a Tag Heuer timepiece. While scanning the instruments, you notice some subtle branding on the dashboard that says the gauges are built and powered by IBM—you recently researched the Cognitive Analytics solutions on the IBM Web site. As your ship passes through the futuristic humanity, you see Tesla-branded repowering stations, which are upselling a software upgrade for the Tesla 3 that sits 30 feet away in your “real” garage.  

It’s a limitless opportunity to sync brands directly into the unique and realistic virtual environment. With the progression of technology and data powered by programmatic digital media, brand integrations can be seamless, highly targeted, and persuasive.

Naturally, marketers are eager to test and take advantage of advertising opportunities within VR devices, especially with the capability for ads to be integrated into programmatic media buying channels. However, the excitement is outpacing the technology. For marketers, VR is nowhere close to what is required to make it a factor in a digital advertising strategy. Before programmatic virtual reality can take shape, there needs to be the scale on both the consumer and publisher side.

Currently, only a few options for VR ad placements exist. It will progressively gain scale as the virtual reality medium, its creative applications, and ad-technology infrastructure develops together. Eventually, it will be practical to develop a unique VR advertisement to particular creative specifications, build out a targeted audience relevant to a product and service, and place it across thousands of games and VR applications--all in real time. The boundary-pushing agencies and technology companies will continue to iterate until that hypothetical is a reality.  

And what if the marketing/advertising technology platforms themselves become a complete virtual reality experience?

Instead of a two-dimensional dashboard on your laptop, imagine a realistic platform with buttons, levers and three-dimensional reporting:  a customized cockpit to build, execute, and optimize digital campaigns. While not as entertaining as space-fighting with another spaceship in EVE, it could make the day-to-day working world more riveting, fun, and potentially productive.  

Until that “reality” is virtual, it’s certainly fun to ponder the marketing possibilities in the emerging medium that is virtual reality.

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