Sensory Engagement: VR Apps Redefining Marketing
New opportunities for marketers
Hand-drawn posters and pressed print ads were how marketing was done in its early days. Then, there were animations and videos and suddenly getting your idea and your product’s best attributes across, became a whole lot easier and more creative. Still, video ads lack a certain element of interaction and assume a high degree of imagination in the subjects of your marketing campaigns. See, they still have to imagine themselves using your product or service and what it would do to them once they are. The imaginative experience could go all the way, but it also might not, depending on the neural associations your creation is able to induce. Gamifying advertising made it all a bit more interactive, yet, the element of personalisation was still lacking. Lo and behold, the advent of VR (Virtual Reality) and AR (Augmented Reality) environments, personas and apps. The impossible was no longer.
All of a sudden, marketers were presented with a whole new world of possibilities – one in which they could put their target audience in the driving seat: interacting, seeing, smelling and touching many of their products. It is as close to getting actual people in a storefront and doing a personal product demo for them, without them leaving the comfort of their home. All this, without the expense of having a storefront and salespeople to man it and sell. Needless to say, many modern marketers jumped at the opportunity when VR started to become more mainstream in the past couple of years – especially those whose products or services couldn’t be characterised as ‘’mass-produced’’ and was best sold through indirect channels. Others frowned at the new opportunities for they couldn’t fathom how VR could augment their marketing efforts, afraid it would sky-rocket their budgets just to remain competitive, while producing little in the way of results.
Hand-picking your target audience
When designing adverts or choosing marketing channels, the rule of thumb has always been to, first and foremost, consider your target audience. Where do they hang out and when? How do they prefer to receive information and how often?
Choosing VR and VR apps as your main way of marketing a product, service or company clearly comes with certain implications regarding whom you would be able to reach. Although it might be tempting to throw away all traditional and other digital channels in favour of VR, currently the coolest kid on the block, it is hardly a winning strategy for most marketers. Unless your target audience is white, privileged males in their 20s and early 30s, that is.
VR advertising success stories
L’Oreal’s MakeUp Genius app is a prime example of redefining the product experience and interaction with consumers, using new VR technology. Thomas Cook’s Try Before You Fly, an in-store virtual reality experience utilises the world’s first 360 VR tourisme video. The app resulted in copious amounts of PR, as well as uptake in bookings for the well-known tour operator.
The automotive industry is also making use of haptic technology, allowing drivers to control features touch-free, mid-air. The applications of AR and VR are truly limitless and unlike other media, can fulfill a creative marketer’s wildest dreams.
Developing apps for VR and AR
With the drop in prices of mass-produced VR headsets, like Oculus Rift or HTC Vive, it is becoming the prerogative of every self-respecting geek to eventually own one, gradually commoditising VR technology and distributing it en masse.
For those who don’t want to drop cash on expensive headsets, there are also free smartphone VR apps which can be used with Samsung Gear VR, Google Cardboard or other inexpensive 3D goggles. This is one way for marketers to ensure their VR creations would be available to a wider audience than if they were only developed to work for hard core virtual reality viewers with advanced hardware. Apps and 360 video can also be developed relatively quickly and inexpensively, depending on the complexity of the virtual environment and required features, of course.
Enterprise app development companies Verhaert Digital have experience with VR and AR and can assist you in determining whether your marketing goals can be enhanced with this new technology. Contact us to learn more.
Copywriter: Ina Danova