If you haven’t seen the video of the grandma trying the VR rollercoaster, then watch it right now before you continue reading.
That woman’s reaction is a pretty good representation of the power that VR has on human beings. With 3d, 360 degree stereoscopic vision, it gives the user a fully immersive experience that is often indistinguishable from reality.
With HTC and Sony all releasing their consumer headsets this year (Oculus has already been released), 2016 marks the beginning of the future of entertainment...and advertising.
What’s Happening In VR Advertising Today
The Hiking boot brand Merrel launched a VR ad experience that allowed users to go on a ‘virtual hike’ in a virtually constructed mountainous region. To make the experience even more immersive, they built a physical landscape that lined up with the virtual landscape, so users could touch a rocky wall in the VR wall and then feel it in real life.
Last year General Electric created a VR animated video called “The Nature of Industry” to promote brand awareness. This 3 minute video was produced by the oscar-winning special effects company and made its rounds in the VR community due to it's beautiful visuals.
In the 2014 World Cup, Coca Cola set up a VR experience in a mock locker room that transported them onto the field to play soccer with the greated. This event highlighted the fact that logos and constant branding messages are not essential for a powerful VR experience.
Currently VR advertising has been primarily restricted to promotional events such as video game conventions. However, as VR headsets become cheaper and more widely used (which low-cost versions such as Google Cardboard has made even easier) it will begin to venture out into people’s everyday lives.
How Is VR Advertising Different?
Besides the obvious fact that it utilises VR technology, VR Advertising is quite different to traditional forms of advertising. It’s not enough for to simply put a message and a logo out there, you need to tell a story or give users unforgettable experiences. This is because VR is completely immersive, meaning that it captures people’s undivided attention.
But doesn’t capturing people’s undivided attention mean that VR advertisers don’t have to work as hard?
That seems logical right? If you have someone’s attention, you would think that they will remember any message you throw at them no matter how sterile and unimaginative it may be.
Attention is a highly valued commodity in today’s world. It’s rare that you’ll ever find someone devoting 100% of their attention to one thing. Even when we’re watching TV, we’re checking our phones or drifting off into some other form of media. VR is unique in the sense that in order to use it, you need to take time out from all other devices. This means that people expect a lot from your content. People will not have the patience to wait through boring content, so if you don’t fit the bill, you will be ignored.
The Future Of VR Advertising
The real exciting aspect of VR is how it will integrate with haptic technology. Haptics is use of suits and/or mechanical add-ons that add the sensation of touch to the VR experience. This potentially would allow users to not only see a beautiful sunset in Cancun, but also feel the breeze against their shoulder (and all from the comfort of their own home).
For advertisers, VR opens up a world that is as large as their imaginations. Airlines could give customers the chance to feel what it’s like to visit a foreign country with a virtual experience in a German beer hall. Or perhaps a recreation of modern-day advertising within VR experiences. Imagine that you’re playing a VR game located in Times Square and you look up to see an Ad for the newest Playstation game up on the billboard.
One thing we can be certain of, is that much like Grandma’s experience, it’s going to be an exciting ride.
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