2016 Marketing Trends: Virtual Reality

VR Marketing Trends to Watch Out For in 2016

Virtual Reality – once a feature of science fiction – is now part of our actual reality. Experts have predicted that 2016 will be the year VR finally goes mainstream and recent developments in the industry have shown that the saturation point is likely to come sooner rather than later. With 2016 marking the release of a multitude of VR headsets from the tech giants Facebook (Oculus Rift), Steam (HTC Vive), Microsoft (Hololens) and Sony’s PlayStation VR. Two important questions arise:

How big a disruption is VR likely to cause across a number of industries?

How marketers can use this technology to their advantage?

VR is Everywhere

In March, the world famous SXSW technology conference was dominated by one topic – virtual reality. A host of games, realtime experiences and never before seen apps were presented to a curious audience who were equally nervous and excited about this new medium.

The beautiful aspect of virtual reality is the lack of training one may require to access even the most basic features. This makes it easy to imagine the VR space as another platform to showcase content and storytelling experiences. VR breaks down the barriers of modern advertising; with the current ‘always on’ mentality – and the ever increasing use of smartphones – it’s positioning itself for future success.

With content becoming more visual (Facebook’s success speaks volumes to this), VR offers a way for content creators to take engagement to the next level and experiment in ways that were technologically impossible just a few years ago.

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VR in Marketing

Since virtual reality is a more engaging platform, it’s an enticing opportunity for brands to create interactive content that specifically targets their audience. For example, McDonald’s used the device to transport users into a Happy Meal Box while Universal Studios fully recreated Hill Valley from Back to The Future. This is far more interesting to the average user than deleted scenes or alternate commentaries will ever be.

It allows the user to step from their living rooms into any imaginable 3-D space, presenting them with an absorbingly interactive experience. This is a concept that can be utilised by numerous industries. Booking a hotel? Forget looking through pictures on the website. Pop your headset on and explore the room for yourself. In this way, the travel industry can engage potential customers in ways a brochure or website never will. Recently, fashion brands such as Topman and Burberry experimented with virtual reality during their live catwalk shows, which allowed anyone to experience the front row of fashion show from the comfort of their bedroom.

Unchartered Waters

An observable law in technology (Moore’s Law) states that computing power roughly doubles every 18 – 24 months, which means that technology gets cheaper, faster and more efficient over time. In turn, virtual and augmented reality devices are likely to get smaller, more affordable and efficient over time. The VR market is set to boom, with predictions that it could be worth around $150 billion by 2020. With such a big market emerging, brands and agencies should be incorporating this technology into their future marketing strategies.

virtual reality is already turning heads in the world of design as architects can take potential investors on a holographic tour of buildings they’re going to be financing. Education platforms, such as TED, have mentioned ‘classrooms’ for millions of people that are presented by some of the smartest people in the world.

By keeping an open mind and anticipating changes before they happen marketers can stay ahead of the technological curve and engage audiences with creative solutions.