Commentary

Waiting For Virtual Reality Around The Corner

There’s virtual reality and then there’s the reality relating to virtual reality.

Despite all the marketing and promoting of VR headsets of various types, marketers will not get much out of VR as it exists today, according to a new study.

However, in the long term, virtual reality with transform marketing experiences, unlike any marketing channel that has come before, according to Forrester.

The Forrester report, ‘Virtual Reality Isn’t Ready For Marketing Yet,’ is based on two very large surveys of online adults in the U.S., weighted to be representative of the U.S. population.

The study paints a very positive long-term picture for virtual reality while identifying the obstacles to getting there. The obstacles:

  • Consumers don’t get it – Some 42% of adults say they have never heard about virtual reality headsets and 46% say they don’t see a use for VR in their lives.
  • Device penetration is niche – Advertisers traditionally favor media that masses of consumers are already using. With virtual reality, platforms like Sony PlayStation or Google Daydream have just launched commercially. Forrester pegs the total VR headset market at fewer than 2% of online adults by the end of this year.
  • Contents costs are high – The cost to develop VR content can range anywhere from $10,000 to well over $500,000.
  • Production is complicated – Using VR content requires working with a high number of disparate partners, whose systems typically are not integrated with each other.
  • Brands’ forays leave consumers wanting – Most brands testing VR start with lower-cost 360-branded VR videos, typically self-serving, generating low impact among consumers.

On the positive side, those who are interested in or currently using a virtual reality device are interested in a wide range of activities for them. Here’s what they would be interested in doing with their VR headset:

  • 86% -- Watching movies, TV
  • 85% -- Playing video games
  • 84% -- Communicating with friends or family
  • 82% -- Touring virtual homes, apartments
  • 81% -- Shopping for goods
  • 81% -- Meeting with doctors/healthcare professionals
  • 81% -- Viewing concerts
  • 81% -- Working, virtual workspace
  • 81% -- Communicating with co-workers
  • 80% -- Participating in exercise classes
  • 80% -- Taking a class at a college
  • 79% -- Reading magazines
  • 77% -- Putting outfits together

Based on some of the advances we saw at CES earlier this year, virtual reality is being developed at scale. The market detail is if and when consumers will adopt it at the same velocity as it’s created.  

7 comments about "Waiting For Virtual Reality Around The Corner".
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  1. Douglas Ferguson from College of Charleston, February 14, 2017 at 2:05 p.m.

    Too soon to know if it'll fizzle like 3D television and Google Glass. After 40 years, I'm still waiting on my jet-pack.  https://youtu.be/r1SCu9yiBlo?t=16

  2. Chuck Martin from Chuck Martin replied, February 14, 2017 at 2:12 p.m.

    It has been a long time coming, Douglas, but the processing power is getting there.

  3. Paula Lynn from Who Else Unlimited, February 14, 2017 at 3:24 p.m.

    We need this like another hole in the head and we seem to get a new one almost every day. Pretty soon, we'll have to find something else to take the place of the emptiness.

  4. Randall Tinfow from CLICK-VIDEO LLC, February 14, 2017 at 6:17 p.m.

    Great first line.  Made me spritz my seltzer.

    We have done some VR primarily for trade shows.  Far easier to get someone to sit in a massage chair than to put on a VR headset!


  5. Chuck Martin from Chuck Martin replied, February 14, 2017 at 7:56 p.m.

    Thanks, Randall, and totally agree on that; was notable at CES.

  6. Doug Garnett from Atomic Direct, February 14, 2017 at 7:25 p.m.

    There's this odd fundamental challenge with virtual reality (and some of my good friends are deep into playing with it). But essentially, virtual reality is about looking around. Not much entertainment or advertising will thrive with that.

    Movies succeed by focusing us on visuals that drive home the story - build relationships with characters, etc... In fact, what makes entertainment great are the details - and attention to details that matter. Great movies and TV shows are built on those details.

    Virtual reality inherently loses those details. It's about scattering attention - not focusing it.

    The situation is even worse in advertising. Companies (with a few important exceptions) don't often benefit from environmental. Rather, we also need to focus viewers onto things - products, people, the story, the brand.

    What is shocking to me is that no one is talking about this. I guess the investors are desperate for a new product hit - and so are TV makers (since smart TV's are yawners, 3D was a bust, curving is pretty dull, etc...).

  7. Chuck Martin from Chuck Martin replied, February 14, 2017 at 7:59 p.m.

    Very good points, Doug. VR will get more interesting when consumers can share experiences and interact with each other during that.

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