Is the future of advertising VR, AR and MR?

Things in this world are constantly evolving and changing with advertising being no exception. What I’ve been wondering recently is what will be the next thing to revolutionise the industry as TV advertising did in the 1950’s? I personally think that XR has a very big chance of being that medium. What is XR you may be asking yourself? Well, it’s the umbrella term for several forms of reality, primarily Virtual Reality, Augmented Reality and Mixed Reality.

Just look at some of the brands that are incorporating it into their plans. Alexander Mcqueen, Burger King, New York Times, Top Shop, Volvo and the list goes on. Did you notice that? Just look at how diverse those companies are. It’s not just one company or one industry using this new technology, but most of them.

Why?

Not all too long ago using XR was seen as just a gimmick that provided numb entertainment for 30 seconds at tradeshows. Now it seems to be much much more than that, real stories and emotions are being brought into these campaigns. Just look at the Coca-cola/WWF campaign.

I think this campaign had much more of an impact using Augmented Reality than if they had simply produced a video around the same topic. This is because the people in the campaign are actually ‘in’ the campaign. They’re not just a passive viewer at home but actually interacting with the campaign making them a lot more invested, and this investment is like the glue that will make the message stick.

This can be said for a lot of the XR campaigns you may have seen in the last few years. Whatever angle they’re taking (comedic, emotive, etc) they try and get the audience actively involved, audiences see hundreds if not thousands of ads every day so standing out is becoming more challenging. People will remember something they are involved in a lot more than something they just observed.

The Benefits

What’s great about having the audience investment is there are also a hundred different mediums under this umbrella to get it. There’s VR headsets, 360 videos, Interactive cubes, AR/MR app experiences and my personal favorite, AR mirrors. A brand writing off XR as a whole is like writing off breakfast because you don’t like cereal. It may not be the right time in a brand’s journey to produce a campaign like this but I think it should be pitched because you never know when one of those mediums will fit an objective led campaign perfectly.

Another benefit of XR marketing is that it isn’t just a one-trick pony. If you produce a campaign involving XR technology there’s a multitude of content you can produce other than just the main campaign. You can film reactions to it, create a BTS film, an event film and even a case study around it. So if someone thought it would be one big campaign followed by radio silence that’s not the case, as having a multitude of content to push out after the main campaign is not only easy but also very effective. 

The Future

While this medium has many benefits I think the main thing that will affect whether this becomes one of the key mediums of advertising in the future, is technology. The tech for XR is becoming more advanced and accessible which means it’s also becoming more affordable which, at the end of the day, is determining factor. However one only has to look at the past to guess where this will go, once upon a time you had to have a big budget and a studio behind you to make a movie. Now you can do it with your phone, and if you’re talented and persistent enough make something pretty damn great.

I think XR will not only be a big part of advertising’s future but storytelling’s future as well. As the tech becomes more advanced and cheaper, creatives and producers not only accept it but embrace it and consumers get more curious and excited about it. I am truly very hopeful for this medium, stories are evolving just like everything else and there’s a lot of amazing stories that can be told through XR, and I can’t wait.

Writer – Travis Usher – Creative Manager @ Ekstasy

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