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Virtual reality (VR) is perhaps the most anticipated technological advance of the digital age. Long the stuff of science fiction, virtual reality is finally becoming a viable form of mass media – and simultaneously showing promise as one of the most powerful marketing tools of the twenty-first century.
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After resolving some steep challenges – lagging technological capability and lackluster sverisimilitude, to name just two – virtual reality tech is poised to become a popular form of consumer entertainment soon. Industry leaders like Facebook, Google, Samsung, and Sony are all investing in VR.
The objective of VR is to provide an authentic immersive experience, shutting out the world beyond the visor or helmet in favor of an all-encompassing virtual panorama. Just by putting on a headset, users can be instantly transported anywhere from a windswept desert to the icy surface of the moon. The beauty of VR-based marketing materials is that they give you complete control over everything users see and hear in a 360-degree virtual environment.
Even though mass-marketed VR programs are still very much in the development stages, companies of all sizes and specialties are wise to get out in front of this transformative marketing trend. Here are some key VR tech tips to keep top-of-mind when you’re structuring your cutting edge digital marketing plan.
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- Focus on Immersive Narrative Experiences
Today’s marketing landscape is all about grabbing and holding the attention of your audience with an engaging story – and this popular marketing strategy is ideally suited to VR tech, since the uniquely immersive and realistic platform allows you to craft especially gripping stories. Simply put, VR allows you to connect with your audience at a level no other marketing medium can reach.
For inspiration, look to the narrative elements woven through some of our most popular, consistently lucrative games – these elegantly crafted interactive forms of entertainment use story to scaffold challenge and spectacle, building a cohesive art form out of all three. These games allow users to build relationships with these hyper-realistic fantasy worlds, ensuring that they will remain invested in characters, outcomes, and concepts for years on end. How can you use the same strategies to create interesting, interactive virtual marketing materials?
- Encourage – and Facilitate – User-Generated Content
VR isn’t the only cutting-edge technology to be brought out of the realm of science-fiction and into tangible reality through advances in digital communications tools – user-generated content has become a form of mass media through technological advances that allow everyday users to create, publish, and promote their own content, sometimes at a level equal to that of professional creators and producers. As a result, consumers are more discerning and vocal than ever before – they know quality content because they make their own.
You can use this creative energy as a springboard for your digital marketing materials, including VR media. As we’ve said, VR is still some years away from being a mainstream media format, but its developmental trajectory will probably closely follow that of other media technologies that went from scarce luxury goods to toys within just a few years. Video cameras, for example, were bulky and expensive until a decade or so ago. Now it’s hard to find a phone that isn’t capable of shooting video – and then uploading it to the internet. Anyone can create their own video segments, and companies like Facebook and Periscope have begun to offer live streaming video to everyday users. Virtual reality might be out of reach of most consumers now, but in ten years, who knows?
- Get Up Close and Personal
One of the most futuristic elements of VR tech – and the reason it has enraptured science-fiction visionaries from Ray Bradbury to Margaret Atwood so completely – is its immediacy. In theory, users will be able to experience new worlds without ever leaving their homes. What does this mean for marketing materials? Well, look at the way the internet has revolutionized shopping. Consumers love being able to scroll through photo galleries and watch short product demo segments from the comfort of their living rooms. What if they could actually “sit” on a virtual couch, “try on” a pair of virtual shoes, or “see” a new window treatment exactly as it would look in their own homes?
Companies like IKEA and Ebay are already reaching customers with “augmented reality” features that allow users to “place” furniture items inside images of their homes, but this is just the beginning. When you consider potential applications for VR marketing, remember that virtual reality is multi-sensory – it can provide not only images but complete – and compelling – sensory experiences. When prospective clients try out your products and services, what makes that experience uniquely memorable and valuable? These are the elements that should form the centerpiece of your virtual reality marketing programming.
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The key attraction of virtual reality – and the reason it holds so much promise for companies seeking to take their marketing materials to the next level – is “discovery:” VR allows users to explore new places on their own terms, in an open-ended, autonomous interactive format that allows you as marketer to let customers take the lead in building their own durable, evolving relationship with your company and your brand. Look ahead for ways that VR tech can enhance your marketing strategy when it becomes the next new digital entertainment trend. Remember, the future could arrive sooner than you think.
Are you interested in learning more about virtual reality and other cutting-edge digital media tools? Square 1 Group is a boutique web development team based in Los Angeles, California. Our design and digital marketing expertise makes us an ideal fit for real estate agencies looking to expand their business online. We provide all our clients with individualized support and maintenance, online marketing services, and content creation, and we are passionate about delivering premium quality at an affordable price.