VR and Advertising: Where does it fit in?
VRs growth in popularity and its ability to reach consumers has not gone unnoticed. Since its take up, the ears of marketers are pricked and agencies poised, but how does VR fit into the world of advertising?
The VR Buzz
VR is providing huge opportunities for consumers to interact with branded content. Like never before, brands can target the audience with their own tailored messages and many companies haven’t been afraid to get in on the action. Nike will let you have a kick about with football star Neymar, whilst HBO wants you enter the world of Game of Thrones and hang out with Jon Snow.
Even Haagen-Dazs’ have got in on the action. If insects are more your thing, their campaign to save the humble Bee will sweep you literally off your feet when it takes flight this summer. The ‘Haagen-Dazs loves Honeybees’ campaign is helping people understand the bee’s plight, by shrinking them down to the size of these busy little creatures. This eco-friendly campaign was born from an understanding that VR is all about storytelling. It needs to be a curated experience in order to be effective – something which companies are only just realising. Only 8% of marketers are using it, as opposed to 68% using social and 56% using more traditional video routes. Clearly, there is a lot of buzz around the potential of Virtual Reality. From bees to Nights Watchmen, larger companies to smaller ones, there is room for VR in many areas of advertising.
A Shining gem?
If marketers were magpies, then Virtual Reality would be a winning find. It is a highly engaging and impactful channel for brands to use. As well being a platform that directly connects with consumers, this shining gem also allows them to feel as if they are in control. Gone are the days of passive viewers. The audience can actually pick and choose the advertising they want to see -a contrast to traditional television and print mediums – and as our world becomes more digital, the opportunities only get bigger and better.
One area it is showing particular promise in, is in-app advertising. Already breaking new ground, VR’s in-app success is represented by its huge 30% click through rate (CTR). This figure becomes even more impressive when you consider that marketers have grappled to improve average engagement rates for years. CTR for mobile ads is only 1% and for desktop ads it’s even lower at 0.4%. Omnivirt is one company that provides marketers with just such tech. They will help brands to drive VR and 360 across all mobile devices, making it even easier for them to launch campaigns.
However, marketers need to be careful. As we know, successful VR content is about storytelling and some forms of in-app advertising could dilute this. One sure fire way the immersive experience could be ruined is through those troublesome pop-up banners. Well, rejoice in the fact that VR advertising is unlikely to do so. VR may use tags, that if the viewer chooses so, will take them to the brands website. Or it may stick to creating a curated (yet branded) experience, both are much more effective techniques. Successful brands are those that have realised VR is an experience first and an advert later.
Access Over Experience?
Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the last 5 years, you’re likely to be aware that the way we shop has changed. Online shopping provides huge access at relative ease – but does it lack the charm of a real shopping experience?
Virtual Reality may be the answer to this problem. Providing both experience and ease, VR could be the best of both worlds. We’ve all been there – when you’ve ordered clothes online, only for them to arrive and for some reason you just don’t look like the model in the picture and the material is horrible. Fear not, VR will let you try before you buy. After all, when we hit the highstreets it’s this touchy feely relationship we have with the products that has us reaching for our wallets.
In fact, some savvy marketers are already adopting this approach. Audi has created virtual showrooms which allow customers to select the car, the paint job, the upholstery and even take it for a test drive, all from the comfort of their own headset. VR experiences like this could even one day replace retail websites. Yes, this seems unlikely at the moment, but as the tech develops and more people own headsets, who knows where VR might take us. Either way the immersive nature of VR has the ability to turn shopping into an experience, not just a convenience.
All technologies have to be new at some point and virtual reality has passed its probation period. It’s neither a passing fad nor a medium just for enthusiasts. VR developers are still learning what works best but the progression of VR in the world of advertising will ultimately depend on the consumer. As the lumps and bumps are smoothed out, it will become cheaper and more accessible to all, increasing headset ownership.
The crucial role the virtual world will have in advertising is only just beginning. It will take some perfecting but as more and more companies use it, the greater and more innovative the content will become. You can’t run before you can walk, but VR is set to keep sprinting.