Virtual reality as a medium leverages several consumer engagement drivers that marketing and advertising draw from. VR experiences are immersive, impactful and memorable. As marketers, we know that 90% of information transmitted to the brain is visual and 70% of sensory receptors are in your eyes. VR functions in the same way that a great commercial does, its storytelling, only the user is actually in the story.
VR is also the shiny new toy that has consumers and industry insiders alike clamoring for exposure to the various iterations and brands of consoles. I’ll admit that when I embarked on the experience myself, I had marketing in the forefront of my mind.
I’m likely one of the last people in the digital marketing world to try Facebook’s Occulus. I was blown away by the realism in the visuals and just how immersive the experience was. I demo’d the console in a scenario where I didn’t actually have to do anything but observe a giant bug robot try to destroy an urban neighborhood. Once inside, I looked for every consumer engagement opportunity that the device could possibly offer. Three main areas jumped out:
Brand awareness as laser beams flew past my head so did other things rife with marketing potential – soda cans, exploding cars, apparel, billboards…the list goes on. It was a brand marketer’s dream. Every object that entered my field of vision was exceptionally detailed and primed for a brand logo — product placement opportunities abound.
Complementary product integrations, specifically wearables I knew that it was fake, but, why did it seem so real? I found myself ducking and weaving, which immediately brought to mind heart rate changes; calories burned, and exercise experiences in the environment. While there are currently some exercise games, like ICAROS and the accessories that go along with it, the potential to package it along more mainstream devices like exercise bands, watches heart rate monitors, pedometers. The successful technologies and applications will enable robust workout experiences complimentary to the immersiveness of the experience as a whole. Also, given wearables have not reached their projected full potential in the marketplace – this could be a short-term growth opportunity for wearable tech.
User data collection is how you behave in VR the same way that you behave in real life? The “choose your own adventure style” of VR conjures mountains of possible decision-making scenarios that will reveal information about the user and create the potential to harvest psychographic data. Psychographic data reveals the opinions, values and preferences of a user. It can augment other types of data that marketers use to target potential customers like demographics. So in addition to things like gender and age, marketers can layer more granular pieces of information to a shoppers profile making it easier to engage with them.
These are just a few of the ways that VR has the potential to impact marketers and advertisers. As the technology improves, more apps and games are developed and more companies wade into the pool, we should see a greater variety of opportunities to engage with consumers emerge.