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How Virtual Reality Could Change Content Marketing

  • 28 July 2017
  • Nathan Kay

Virtual and augmented reality are set to transform the marketing industry over the next 24 months, according to industry leaders.

The Future of Marketing recently highlighted how virtual reality (VR) is a game changer for marketing executives. It’s becoming one of the most important technologies of the 21st century and has opened new doors for the marketing industry.

VR Goes Commercial

According to Goldman Sachs Research, within its Virtual and Augmented Reality report, VR and augmented reality (AR) are moving away from video gamers and firmly taking up residence in the commercial sphere.

“We see qualities in VR/AR technology that can take this from niche-use case to a device as ubiquitous as the smartphone,” the report says.

The Content Marketing Institute states that consumers are looking for better technologies and to experience the power of VR. Greenlight Insights found that 62% of consumers would feel more engaged with a brand that sponsors a VR experience, while 71% of consumers think a brand is forward-thinking if it uses virtual reality.

VR and AR Gets Personal

VR and AR programs provide the consumer with a unique and modern platform to interact with a brand in a more experiential and personal way.

Whether marketers are looking to push a service, product, an idea or a cause, they always look at the most innovative and up-to-date content to give the prospect a memorable and unique experience with their brand. The key is making sure the content can be liked and shared between friends, preferably on social media which will further increase a following.

According to Impact, leading brands have already started to use live video feeds to increase their content scope. Instagram Live, Snapchat, Facebook Live, and YouTube are being used to stream events, host Q&As, product demos, you name it, and are proving extremely effective and popular.

“These give consumers the opportunity to interact and experience a brand in a way they normally wouldn't without meeting in-person. It allows them to have a more realistic, human experience through the digital world,” The website writes.

The next logical step for marketers is to take this tried, tested and proven formula to the VR and AR niche. Experts predict that 30% of Forbes Global 2000 companies will experiment with AR and VR marketing this year, and the number will increase next year and beyond.

The Numbers Add Up

Deloitte Global found that the VR sector exceeded $1 billion in 2016. The industry is set to reach the multi-billion-dollar mark before 2020 and marketing executives are already tapping into its potential.

When these types of numbers are banded about it makes sense to tap into the market now, while it’s growing strong. Forget those who say it’s just a passing fad. It might be a fad, but for now and in the next few years at least, it’s growing and should not be ignored.

Sarah Hill, the CEO and chief storyteller for StoryUP, one of the early pioneers in virtual reality for brands, tells Content Marketing Institute that VR is finally gaining a foothold, and marketers should understand the fundamentals before diving in.

“Today we are in the “brick-cell-phone phase” of VR. Mobile VR is taking off – by that I mean you don’t need a heavy-gaming PC to view VR; all you need is your mobile device and Google Cardboard. Yet most VR experiences are seated right now,” Hill says.

VR Positively Disrupts Industries

Experts claim the future is in walk-around VR or room-scale VR. This concept will allow a consumer to interact with a supermarket or store by using their smartphone and headset at home. They will be able to walk around a virtual store and select the items they want from the shelves to purchase.

VR and AR are set to positively disrupt every industry, but travel, education, journalism, healthcare, and marketing are at the forefront for now. Pairing VR content with existing online content makes sense to grab two markets at once.

Hill says: “It’s important to pair your VR experience with a Facebook 360, Littlstar, or YouTube 360 campaign; without at least one of those, a limited number of people will see your content because not everyone owns a VR headset yet.”

Know Your Stuff

Industry insiders state that it’s important to learn all the different forms of VR before embarking on a marketing campaign. Know your stuff and know your audience, then everything should fall into place.

“Virtual reality is no longer just about video and audio anymore. We’re seeing new projects using haptics, ambisonic audio, hand controls, and even aromas as new storytelling inputs,” Hill adds.

Lower priced technologies and easily accessible apps are helping to bring VR and AR to the everyday consumer. The Oculus Rift headsets, Google Daydream VR, Samsung Gear VR, and other affordable AR and VR platforms are creating a wider audience for marketers to target.

Virtual reality is changing content marketing while agencies are adapting to this change to target the consumer subconscious in a bright and innovative new way.

About Nathan Kay