Why Virtual Reality is the Next Big Thing for Marketing
By now the phrase ‘virtual reality’ feels like a nebulous buzz-word. It’s been the center of more news stories than I can count and it seems like everyone I know is waiting for the Oculus to come out. But, it’s an exciting time for anyone in the know. With Facebook and Youtube supporting 360 video, we are starting to get a taste of what VR for the masses might feel like. For these experiences, you need nothing but a smartphone. You can tilt and rotate your smartphone, guiding your own cinematic experience until you’re dizzy. For someone who’s never interacted with a 360 video before, there is a moment of confusion. That confusion turns to amazement as they realize they’re in control. That’s awesome. Isn’t that what we as marketers are chasing: that moment where a person interacts with a brand and say’s “Holy S***! This is awesome!”. I believe it is and there are a few reasons why.
Telling a Story in a New Way
The new medium that is virtual reality as we know it, was born very recently. It’s a wobbly toddler that no one can understand yet, but is full of potential. You just know that it’s going places. At the very core of the technology, the concept is basically just a new way to tell a story. Advertising legend, David Ogilvy, lived by his philosophy of “finding the inherent drama” in a story. The way it tells a story has never really been seen. Never before has the viewer been able to control the experience of a story in such a personal way. You could watch a 360 video 100 times and have 100 different, distinct experiences with it. Take this video for example. You could watch the guitarist in the band for the whole 3 minutes, then watch it another time and explore the stage, then even look at a cutie in the audience on the third watch. You can start to imagine the marketing implications for how a brand could tell their own story through VR.
In this era of sharing and social media, content is king. This is especially true for VR. We are still in the early stages of adoption where many have never experienced VR, and the ones that have are excited to see more. Just as in the early days of YouTube, it will take great, shareable content for it to spread like wildfire.
Marketers will start to embrace the technology as content creators. Branding VR content will grow to be a norm. The technology is already eye-catching, a perfect opportunity for a brand to intervene. VR content can be injected into any stage of the consumer decision journey, serving as engaging content.
Holy S*** Moment
One of the most powerful parts of VR is something that I’ve see first hand and comes with a story. I’ve been deep into the VR world for some time now and have been producing content since before Facebook knew what VR stood for. Anyway, there was one client that I was trying to close a deal with who had never been exposed to VR content before, like most of the population. He was a tough guy and he was hard to get a hold of, even missed our fist meeting. I thought he wasn’t interested. I was finally able to sit down with him and show him some demos of what we could do. I had him put on our headset equipment and introduced him to the world of VR. The first thing he said was, “HOLY S***!”, as he turned his head around and moved through the space in the virtual world he was set in. From that moment on, he was hooked.
The lesson learned from that meeting was enormous for me, and it should be powerful for marketers. Any brand who want’s to be associated with that “HOLY S***” moment should embrace VR.