spring / 2017

The magazine of branded content
Marketers set
to have a (Virtual)
Reality check
Feature
Juliet Stott
05/18/17
VR and AR will be the next big computing platform
Juliet Stott
May 18, 2017

Virtual Reality will be the next big computing platform, says Heather Bellini, head of Goldman Sachs’ Technology Research Group. In a recent report that she conducted, Bellini estimates that Virtual Reality, together with Augmented Reality, will become an $80 billion market within eight years. She predicts that by 2025, VR and AR will be roughly the size of the desktop PC market today. “We believe VR and AR will be equally transformative as when we used to see people walking around the streets in New York City holding a big brick to their ear and talking to someone we couldn’t see at the other end. I think this technology has the potential to transform the way we interact with almost every industry today,” she said.

However, Jeremy Bailenson, a professor of communication at Stanford and the founder and director of the Virtual Human Interaction Lab, says the VR industry isn’t there yet. Although the technology on offer may be better than the monochromatic Nintendo Virtual Boy games that gave people headaches in the 1990s, it still has its constraints. In an interview with Slate.com last year, Bailenson said that users should spend no more than 20 minutes engaging with VR content because it is so potent and taxing on the brain. “It’s so visceral and immediate that it can trick your brain into mistaking it for reality,” he said. With this in mind we spoke to VR and gaming expert Nicholas Longano, a partner at Kaleidoscope Technologies in New York, about why marketers should be using Virtual Reality and ideas about how to use it effectively. Here’s what he had to say:


Why VR?

VR is the next content marketing channel

Nicholas Longano: “Today most marketers are taking an omni-channel approach to engage their distracted consumer. Think of VR as the next content marketing channel and another marketing tool, perhaps the most powerful tool you have, to reach and engage your audience effectively.”

VR campaigns are 1.5 times more effect than traditional video

NL: “Nielsen’s recent VR Effectiveness Study found that VR-based campaigns are at least 1.5 times more effective than traditional video ad format, with recall of eight times greater across tested brands, with a social share propensity that is twice as likely vs traditional advertising. Importantly it is far less expensive to create content on than most people believe, and the returns are real.”

The top six tech companies are investing heavily in VR

NL: “VR is being pursued as a core business strategy by the some of the largest marketing and manufacturing companies in the world, including Samsung, Microsoft, SONY, Google, Facebook and Apple (coming soon), with billions of dollars in investment spending.”

More than 6.3 million VR head mounted displays have already been sold in the U.S.

NL: “There are, according to the Superdata 2017 report, over 6.3 million head mounted displays in the U.S. as of last holiday (that number does not include VR viewers). That’s a 6.3 million audience base that is seeking out content, entertainment and experiences on their headsets. The value of the content they have today is quite underwhelming, so it’s the perfect emerging platform in which to stand out and deliver a great experience that reaches so many.”

VR is not just for the Gamers and Millennials

NL: “Many times, brands have come to me and said that VR is for gamers or millennials. Not so at all. According to Greenlight Insights’ VR study, while 73% of millennials were interested in VR, so were 70% of Gen X’s and 64% of Baby Boomers. And the New York Times has enjoyed tremendous success with its virtual reality program… and its readers are not just Millennials.”



How to use VR in practice


VR should be immersive, entertaining, informative and be able to keep the user engaged. It ought not be a mimicry of what the user would see if they were inserted into the real-world experience, says Longano. Rather, it should allow the user to do the things they could not or would not otherwise do in real life.

Longano suggests VR content should be short form, platform relevant, interactive, include an element of social sharing and be fantastical experiences that the user cannot have in the real world. He believes VR should “wow” consumers in every sector. Here he suggests how:

Auto:

NL: “Test driving experiences have been tried and proven successfully, as we have seen with the tremendous results Volvo experienced through its C90 pre-order program. It sold out! Now, any manufacturer or auto dealer can provide audiences with the experience of a test drive and pre-order or call to action, from the comfort of their own home.”

Fashion:

NL: “From virtual fashion shows to exploring the latest fashion trends…consumers can even try on a pair of shoes using Augmented Reality. VR can provide the motivation and discovery needed to move the retail needle. Brands can tease up and coming new shoes or lines and incentivizes pre-order.”

Film, TV and Video Games:

NL: “360 VR is a natural medium that should be a standard for every publisher or distributor. Not only does VR have the potential to activate an audience, but it can provide the social engagement and buzz you seek with new brand launches. We are creating mini VR experiences for video game publishers that will fully immerse audiences into franchises leading up to, during and post launch. These same virtual rooms can be established for any brand as well (think the “Matrix”), where there is a level of product involvement and especially for collectibles.”

Hair & Beauty:

NL: “There are thousands of salons in the country that need to be up to date with the latest fashion trends. Beauty brands could create VR tutorials to teach stylists new hair styles and color techniques.”

Home Design:

NL: “VR and AR can both take much of the guess work out of home design. In Greenlight’s study, two-thirds of respondents felt they would be interested in home design experienced through VR. To be able to change the color of walls and look at different flooring options or hardware all through your smartphone screen and see what they actually look like in your home is ground breaking.”

Music videos:

NL: “A truly compelling VR music video should enable the user to go on the stage and look out at the audience, go above with aerial views, go back-stage with the band and sit beside a favourite artist and even have friends join the experience in avatar format or social sharing to watch the show. By adding the shared experience, it fully immerses and engages your audiences.”

Pharma:

NL: “Whether it’s checking for symptoms, explaining drugs to consumers or medical professionals, the use of 360 video in VR can drive home beneficial facts and provide the user with a variety of OTC, Homeopathy or RX options, all in one seating.”

Real Estate:

NL: “Who will the next Zillow or Trulia of real estate be? VR exposes the market to a new contender and a broader audience. New international buyers can screen dozens of homes through virtual walk-throughs, in the same time it would take them to physically visit one. Realtors can also use virtual staging and sound design to enhance the appeal of the properties they’re marketing to motivate the buyer to action.”

Retail:

NL: “Retail experiences through VR should not just be copies of the real-world store layout. Consumers don’t want to walk endless aisles through VR, being presented countless items they don’t want or need. A successful VR shopping experience will be about the retailer providing the right data-driven products, companion selling, promotional offers and information the customer wants.”

Supermarkets:

NL: “VR is a powerful tool that can be used in planogramming. Supermarkets can leverage the power of VR to create a virtual retail aisle or shelf space tool – complete with empirical data and testing capabilities—to make the best use of the space available.”

Travel & Hospitality:

NL: “VR has already been used successful by hotel groups, such as Marriott, and airlines, such as Hong Kong Airlines, to engage audiences and show off their resorts and nearby destinations with great success. This is just the tip of the iceberg, especially given that people spend so much time researching their travel destinations. I believe advertising honeymoon destinations via VR is an enormous untapped opportunity - to be able to immerse the audience into your destination can easily open their minds (and their wallets) to vacations they would never otherwise have dreamed of taking.”