8 Virtual Reality and Marketing Experts Weigh In on How Companies Can Prepare for VR Mass Adoption
Virtual Reality is the next major game changer for media and marketing. In case you haven’t noticed, its been exploding, and its only a matter of time before VR Mass adoption truly occurs.
We’ve been working on Virtual Reality video projects for some of our clients, and as we forayed deeper into VR we saw that there’s a massive opportunity for businesses that embrace VR, and use it in different ways.
We asked 8 VR and marketing experts on how they think your company can prepare for the mass adoption of virtual reality. We chose people with different backgrounds to get a diversity of thought. This is a must read for any mid or high level marketing executive at your company.
Malia Probst: VR/AR Producer & Connector @TheMalia
The one thing businesses can do to prepare for the mass adoption of virtual reality is admittedly easier said than done: LEARN. Although mixed reality has been quietly bubbling behind the closed doors of the military and academia for decades, the consumer industry is officially here.
However, it is essential to understand that VR/AR is NOT merely an upgrade to video games: fundamentally, this technology is a seismic shift in how humans exchange information. It is the next evolution in computing – so just as PCs, laptops, and mobile phones have affected every aspect of our personal and business lives, so too will VR/AR eventually.
Although it might seem like a daunting self-educational task, luckily there are plenty of resources out there to expedite the process and decrease the learning curve. To start, check out my two podcasts: the Real Virtual Show focuses on insights and actionable advice via interviews with leaders in the VR/AR space, and the VRScout Report is a fantastic way to stay in the loop on the most important news in the industry.
During my way from VRLO to Warsaw a month ago I met a random technical director from a big industrial company sitting next to me. It began when I pulled my Gear VR and played one of our games. It’s a great starter for a conversation about VR with a stranger.
After an hour of initial VR evangelism he started to get the power of this medium. He revealed me one of his biggest problems. One of his tasks is to prepare multi-million dollar investments, but the problem appears when the team proposes the project to the board members. They need to accept the investment plan but he’s having a hard time explaining all technical details that he knows they are going to work, are innovative etc.
The board members do not know that. He had that idea that VR – as an ultimate demonstration tool – can take all board members on a trip to not yet existing facility and demo how innovative it is, how it’s going to work and dynamically show progress of execution time. The other huge benefit – especially for international corporations – is that even top level executives across the ocean can join and ask their questions. Now imagine you can teach your workers in the same environment, long before they would start working there.
Our 3 projects that incorporate multiplayer VR experiences just prove that social interaction in VR has unlimited power yet to be unleashed and it’s something never seen before.
Ryan Stewart, Founder at Webris
VR has a long way to go until it’s reached mass adoption, if it ever does. If / when that time comes, there will be plenty of tools on the market that will help businesses adjust to the shift. For the most part it will just be about how a business can better serve their customers with VR. If you’re an eCommerce store that sells shoes, maybe you allow people to try them on from home using VR. If you sell real estate, offer VR virtual tours. For the time being, it’s not something business owners need to be concerned with.
There are a lot of mixed messages out there as far as how Virtual Reality is progressing and as a business you may be wondering when you should jump in, if at all. Most of the buzz you hear now is strictly focused on VR as a games platform. While this is an important sector, it is only one of many that consumers are interested in. Greenlight VR’s June 2016 survey of 1,300 adults found that while 61% were interested in VR for gaming other uses ranked much higher. More were interested in Travel 74%, Movies & live events 67%, Home design & real estate 66%, and education 64%. Other areas of interest include Virtual meetings 59%, and Shopping & Live sports 56%.
Even if your company isn’t invested in any of these activities now is the time to start creating VR experiences as part of your overall marketing strategy. 71% feel brands involved in VR are forward thinking and modern, 62% feel engaged with a brand that sponsors a VR Experience and 53% percent of respondents said they’d be more likely to purchase from a brand that uses VR than from one that doesn’t.
Sponsoring a VR related event is something any brand can get into, as are mobile VR experiences. A Google Cardboard experience is viewable to nearly everyone with a smartphone. Many people already have google cardboard viewers and giving away a branded cardboard viewer is a cheap way to double down on your message. This is not the time to take a “wait and see” attitude with VR, get involved and get your message out there now.
To best way to prepare for the inbound VR wave is to experience it first hand. Marketing teams should have access to VR equipment in order to better understand the experience and the inevitable brand and experiential empathy true and modern VR technology can create.
What is VR empathy? Imagine watching to world cup from a goalie’s perspective, getting inside of the goalies head, looking downfield at the opposing team, the sound of 50,000 vuvuzelas depleting your brain of concentration. The thought makes me shiver and I’m not even a soccer fan.
VR experiences = digital experiences with empathy
We’re still pretty far (~2 years) away from mass consumer adoption, it’s not necessary to start producing VR content today.
That said, what you can learn from the experience & technology today, won’t only prepare you for marketing & selling with VR in the future, it will expand your horizons to what you can already do with video today.
David Berkowitz (Serial Marketer), Marketing Expert
The one thing businesses can do to prepare for the mass adoption of virtual reality is to consider the kind of value VR can deliver consumers, and hone in on that with your execution. Maybe it’s about providing a new way to showcase your products with a 360-degree perspective. Maybe it’s about telling a story in a way that requires people to explore their surroundings, with your brand either presenting the experience or playing a meaningful role in the story. A lot of VR experiences today don’t have a great payoff to make use of the medium, and that’s a learning process, so start dabbling early. And perhaps the most important thing anyone working on such concepts can do is to try out as many VR experiences as possible. You’ll quickly form opinions on what works and what doesn’t.
99% of business should not do anything to prepare for VR as the application of the technology is still so far off. It’s going to be many, many years before there is any kind of consumer adoption with VR hardware. Only companies like ESPN etc. can afford to play around with the technology now. I would suggest that most content companies not get distracted by VR and focus on what consumers want to consume today and in the next 18 months, but no further than that.