The beginning of the beginning for digital marketing. Is Augmented & Virtual reality the future?

Digital marketing continues to innovate and move at the same pace as the consumer, actively if not almost competitively. Standing out from the crowd to get noticed has become increasingly aggressive over the last few years. Hello search engine optimisation, hello social media and now hello the ever-popular video content.

Video remains the popular method for marketers to create and distribute content to engage with their target audience. Video is the main disruptor for marketers and YouTube and Facebook videos are the 2 most popular distribution channels according to Hubspot’s State of Inbound 2017 report.

It is easy to see why online video content is popular, YouTube has over a billion users whilst 82% of Twitter users watch video content on Twitter. Online video content has proven effective in how brands are currently reaching their audience, 87% of marketers now use online video to target their audience.

Everybody is doing it. It is the current trend. However, today’s consumers are always on a look out for fresh exciting content to stay engaged and marketers have now found technology as an effective tool to reach their target audience.

Augmented Reality remains popular as AR technology spending jumped from $6.6 billion in 2016 to $12.6 in 2017. AR/VR technologies are also projected to reach $215 billion in spending by 2021.

So, what are the reasons for brands to spend on AR/VR?

Consumer behaviour is changing, with so many marketing messages being sent to the consumer through emails, smartphone and social media. It is easy for the consumer to totally ignore your messages or even be automatically opted out, even more so with the new GDPR regulations. Brand experiences can break through the barriers by enabling the consumer to get involved with the product, provide an interactive experience and tap into the emotions of the consumer.

Co-founder of Immersive Futures Victor Riparbelli suggested that

VR is also capable of generating far more empathy in its viewers than any other medium.

AR/VR marketing is emotion driven and builds a foundation of empathy for the consumer which is believed to be an evolving behaviour with the consumer.

A 2017 Nielsen study found that 84% of VR viewers demonstrated brand recall, compared with only 53% of those who viewed standard video advertising.

Virtual reality had helped Greenpeace charity double their sign up by letting festival attendees try on a VR headset as part of a drive to improve engagement. Paula Radley, the Face-to-Face Operations Manager at Greenpeace told Civil Society Media,

The success is a combination of VR video, the decoration of the exhibition area and the opportunity for a potential donor to sit down with a fundraiser, which resulted in double the sign ups.

Ikea’s well-known use of Augmented Reality has also showed signs that this is the future of consumer engagement.

AR has been used by Ikea to let customers preview how furniture looks on their devices before they buy, eliminating any potential mistakes and increase online sales. Which according to Ikea was an area the retailer was struggling with due to rapid changes of digital media. According to company reports, the app was downloaded 8.5 million times, Ikea have reported an increase in online sales which highlight the engagement potential where AR/VR technology has been implemented.

It can be argued that AR/VR is the origin of Future Computing. We are currently going through a seismic shift in technology. Only time will tell how far AR/VR can go. Would we see the first ever AR/VR film in the comfort of our homes? And will there be AR/VR adverts in public areas rather than posters and billboards? As far as we know AR/VR technology continues to rise and is now being implemented by brands which has added an exciting new dimension to digital marketing.

Immersive technology is currently in its infancy, however, many brave marketeers are experimenting and incorporating AR/VR into their marketing plans. Many large brands such as McDonalds, Velux and Samsung are taking advantage of the new trend which enforces the idea that AR/VR is the future of digital marketing.

Here’s what Brent Hall, Marketing Consultant, formerly Global Director of Digital Marketing at Nokia, has to say about it.

I’ve led the creation of VR apps and experiences, from a VR app showcasing videos made with Nokia’s OZO camera (RIP) to a shoppable 360 VR experience showing the future of e-commerce and more. It’s important to note that we’re still in the infancy days of AR / VR, this is the time to test, experiment, and prepare for the tipping point. If you’re expecting ROI in dollars and cents, that’ll be a challenge. But if you’re committed to being an innovator, wait no more.

 The best way to connect with your audience currently is to tap into their emotions, VR/AR technology enables you to do so. Whilst it is still in its infancy, large brands have been quick to utilise this technology. It is only a matter of time before AR/VR technology is used by all marketeers as the ease of use increases and the cost of production decreases.

Writer – Tobi Bolanle, AR / VR Partnership Manager @ Ekstasy

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