How is Virtual Reality applied to marketing?

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In the last few years, we hear about virtual reality here and there, so one may even get fairly tired of that. Like it or not, the impact of this new technology is so huge that ignoring it seems hardly possible.

VR market is estimated to accumulate up to $53.6 billion U.S. dollars by 2025.

To ensure we are on the same page, VR stands for Virtual Reality - the technology that puts a user into a fully artificial world that consists of simulated environments and object. Important to note that VR does not require cameras or recordings of the real world - everything can be created out of 3D models. VR works with special headsets or glasses for the full experience but with simpler devices like PC or smartphone, too.

And we also feel the need to mention AR - Augmented reality (AR) - as the 2 are often mixed together. The key difference is that AR doesn’t create an entirely artificial reality. AR uses the real world, captured by a camera, and adds some extra digital elements to it like objects or effects. Some common examples are camera filters and masks in apps or games like Pokemon Go.

What do you think of virtual reality marketing?

As time goes by and the number of new businesses grows consumers become pickier. This is especially a topic of interest when speaking about Millenials as a target customer group.

Young people are infamous for caring about things like brand’s social responsibility, customer service, reviews and, more importantly for our subject, online consumer engagement.

And there are changes in the online buyer’s behavior among other age groups, too. More and more customers develop “immunity” to advertising. For example, CTR for banner ads on one of the top platforms is showing a drastic downfall tendency with about 99.8% of ads being blocked or ignored since 2016.

Aside from that, virtual reality creates a whole new space to play with and the great set of tools to go creative with promoting and selling products. What is really promising is that users can interact with products or experience services and receive higher emotional influence with a feeling of presence.

How can AR and VR be used for marketing?

Augmented Reality and VR are extremely versatile tools that allow to adapt them into marketing and sales in many ways and formats depending on the goals of your campaign.

  • Epic product Launch. Probably, the most popular way brands are using AR and VR is for dropping a new product line and throw dust in the eyes of competitors. Understandingly, VR and AR allow to make an incredible show out of a new product ad and gain brand awareness by going creative with it. Consider though that developing a custom VR/AR app, video or tour for such an ambitious presentation would be costly. And the lifetime of this custom piece of technology would end up with a marketing campaign.

  • Informational marketing. It happens that one of the marketing goals is to explain how something really works and what’s great about it. While for simpler and cheaper things a cartoonish explanation video is enough, for more complicated systems and technologies VR/AR really allows to go into details and be convincing. Good examples are selling equipment, machinery or so.

  • Relationship marketing. Solutions like virtual tours or 360 demonstrations of your office/workshop/factory are great for companies who rely on customers’ loyalty. If you need to establish trust with your audience and create more transparency about your business and team, definitely check the ways to use VR/AR for that.

  • Product demos and tests. Many customers prefer to have an opportunity to put a hand on things before making a decision, especially if this is a valuable purchase like a house, hotel room, car, etc. Though smaller purchases are great to be demonstrated, too. And for some of them, VR/AR can replace or partially replace real-life testing providing customers with better knowledge and interaction with product or service.

  • Instore advertising. Experienced marketers know that having a lead in the store doesn’t equal a purchase. There is a ton of things can go wrong. Some recent VR/AR developments though allow making an online store or showroom more interactive and user-friendly, which delivers better conversion.

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How will VR change the future of advertising?

Virtual Reality would definitely require companies to change their approach to promoting things. VR advertising hasn't reached its bloom yet due to the limited amount of users of the nowadays technology and the incipient nature of current marketing moves. Though some general directions that VR advertising should hold are quite clear.

Make the user live through the content. To take the most advantage from virtual or augmented reality, it’s best to focus on creating a story that user can feel and affect through the technology. The turning point here is that a customer should no longer be a passive viewer but an active part of the virtual environment. That can be implemented in a way of giving users tools to play with and certain reaction to their actions.

Bring users emotions, not just information. Many current ways of advertising provide impact on emotions for sure. Some of them fail halfway with poor execution, which is sad but not that critical for certain types of content. With VR, on the other hand, details should be authentic and appeal to emotions more vibrant taking into consideration visuals, sounds, effects and content as well.

Overcome geographical and time limits. Well, the Internet and TV had made it available for advertisers to share content with customers overcoming some limits already. However, compared to VR these technologies don’t allow to fully transport a user into the atmosphere. The new approach, though, suggests giving people an opportunity to, for example, visit a showroom or a store at any time without physically going there. And with extra tools, it also becomes possible to even make customers get reaction and answer from a virtual bot performing as a consultant on their trip. Some experiences of a real-life interaction can’t be mimicked so far (like the smell and tactile feelings) but what is accessible now in VR is still a great step forward.

Reaction based marketing strategy. Compared to some traditional ways of advertising like printed media, TV, radio or billboards, and even some types of online campaigns, many virtual reality tools provide a better understanding of user’s experience and involvement. You never know if your flyer went to trash seconds later person got it or why one spent so much time on your site is still not doing anything. If virtual reality set up smartly, however, you can track what elements caught more attention and received a user’s reaction to say at least.

How much does virtual reality development cost?

Calculating a cost of custom VR development is a multilayer process that depends on a number of 3D models required, their quality, animation, extra features needed, form of the technology (app, platform, video, etc)

In the US and Canada, you will be charged $40-$240/hour, in Western Europe $40-$180. In Eastern Europe $25-$70, in India – $5-$70.

This can end up to $5-10k price tag for a basic game-like app for your company to say at least. Luckily, VR/AR offers some cost flexibility and has some loops to adopt technology on a low budget. There are tools and platforms that offer to create custom virtual reality experience nearly for free. Price can be lowered by using 3D models from libraries, customizable templates and existing solutions/add-ons (for chats, analytics, etc) rather than creating brand new ones. Therefore, there are some ways for small business owners to get their hands on VR as well.

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