Web tip – VR and AR in Marketing

Anna Pleshakova WherowareThis week, we welcome a guest post from our Online Marketing Manager Anna Pleshakova. Anna is responsible for behavior-driven email marketing campaigns and strategy for B2B and B2C clients and helping them navigate emerging digital trends.

When you hear about virtual reality (VR) or augmented reality (AR), you may picture a futuristic, Matrix-type world, or think of video games, like the popular AR game Pokemon Go.

Today, we’ll help you understand the differences between AR and VR, and get you thinking about how you can use both technologies to give your audience a unique brand experience.

VR/AR 101

VR and AR in MarketingVirtual reality is defined as a “computer-generated simulation of a three-dimensional image or environment, that can be interacted with in a seemingly real or physical way by a person using special electronic equipment, such as a helmet with a screen inside or gloves fitted with sensors.” That’s a mouthful, but think: wearing a VR helmet to transport yourself into another world – be that a different geolocation or a fictional video game world – the possibilities are endless!

Augmented reality is defined as “technology that superimposes a computer-generated image on a user’s view of the real world, thus providing a composite view.” Think: Pokemon Go using your mobile phone’s camera functionality to superimpose a Pokemon inside your living room.

VR is a more immersive experience than AR. Wearing a VR device, the viewer sees a 360-degree view of content displayed on the screen and can interact with it. AR, on the other hand, incorporates the world around you and adds additional elements.

How Marketers can use VR and AR

Film used to be the most immersive storytelling medium, but even with the high-end TVs, you’re still only watching the screen. VR and AR offer marketers an exciting opportunity to create fully immersive, interactive customer experiences.

You’re probably thinking, “great, but using VR devices requires advanced developer or technical skills, right?” Absolutely not!

In our day and age, both VR and AR are easier to use then you think. For example: with a simple and cheap device like Google Cardboard, you can have a VR experience by inserting your phone into a cardboard viewer, which has two lenses. You hold the viewer over your eyes and explore various virtual reality apps.

6 Reasons to Adopt VR and AR + Brand Success Stories

1. Personalization: both the customer and marketer upload their own content to create a unique form of media, appealing to the customer’s interests.

Retailer Top Shop’s Catwalk Experience, developed by Inition, was a chance to get a sneak peek into London’s Fashion Week. Viewers “sit in the audience” at Topshop’s flagship store and get to see models wearing their favorite brand’s collection walking down the catwalk.

2. Novelty: an early adopter of one of technology’s “latest things” will gain the first movers’ advantage.

Michelle Obama’s VR video (created by the Verge) shows a 360 view of everything the first lady accomplished, now that Barack Obama’s time in office is coming to an end. It presents facts, figures, and stats – the very first VR infographic! This approach to looking at the infographic eliminates distractions and allows viewers to focus on the content.

3. Socialization: customers can save and share their content with others, potentially resulting in viral customer/brand experiences.

Mcdonald's Happy GogglesThe iconic fast-food chain McDonald’s Sweden recently created a virtual reality viewer made from a happy meal box. (Remember we told you VR technology does not have to be complicated?) “Happy Goggles” function similarly to Google Cardboard and allow you to insert your mobile device into the happy meal “headset.” Customers can then share this experience with others via social media – a big win for McDonald’s!

4. Accessibility: customers can use both technologies if they’re not 100% tech-savvy or know how to create their own multimedia products.

Hiking boot brand Merrell’s TrailScape is an immersive VR hiking simulator at their Sundance festival stand. Participants can walk/climb up or down a mountain and must overcome obstacles throughout their journey. The customer just puts on the VR gear, walks around Merrell’s set, and they’re transported to the mountaintop– no technology knowledge required!

Merrell's Trailscape

5. Excitement: inject a playful, fun element into any product or service.

Hotel chain Marriott’s “Teleporter” by Relevent is a VR booth whisking a viewer away on virtual travel all over the globe. Simultaneously, it subtly informs the potential customer that there’s always a Marriott to stay in, wherever you go. This takes a regular photo and/or information booth to a whole new and unexpected level by adding an Oculus Rift DK2 headset and headphones.

6. Mobile friendly: many VR headsets use phones to project the viewer’s content of choice. Behaviors consumers do everyday, like taking a photo, are used to deliver a more immersive experience.

Text100 described an example: “someone browsing a magazine for a watch, can take a small, customized branded insert, place it on his or her wrist and use an in-app camera to actually show exactly what that watch will look like when worn.”

Give AR and VR a Try

It’s important for marketers to stay ahead of technology and try new approaches to engage customers. Though we don’t think you should chase every new trend, VR and AR offer marketers an opportunity to create customer experiences that are impossible with other mediums.

We’ll keep watching to see how inventive brands get creative with both technologies. In the meantime, let us know what you think about the future and potential of VR and AR in the comments!