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Virtual Reality Marketing is Here (But How Should You Use It?)

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People haven't stopped talking about virtual reality (VR) since headsets the size of lunchboxes started being introduced back in 2013. The initial excitement caused a gold-rush of brands, agencies and production companies racing to utilize the new technology. Numerous confused, experimental and downright awful marketing experiences were created as a result, somewhat souring the impact of VR. 

The good news is that VR has now matured and has started realizing it's potential. This means marketers can now produce experiences for clients that finally have the promised impact. Instead of making people feel ill, VR can enable deep and emotional connections, while reaching a much larger audience. 

The technology hurdles behind 'comfort' in VR have been overcome, combined with technological advances and greater knowledge and respect for the medium. The headsets are lighter, more powerful and more intuitive than ever before, not to mention more reliable and easier to run.

Producing a VR-based campaign (or a campaign that features VR)

The first thing to consider when using VR in a campaign is how you are going to reach people. At home on headsets? At special events? On high-public footfall locations? What's more, can the campaign content be used beyond VR headsets? It's the last of these points that often justifies the spend on VR campaigns; the reality is that there is still not a large enough 'consumer' VR market to move the needle for many larger brands so they make up the shortfall by ensuring the campaign also utilizes an online VR application - usually a 360 degrees video. 

The 360-video is important because you can upload them to Facebook and YouTube as well as VR headsets. Online users can click and drag the 360-video so it looks like they are peering through a 'magic window'. This allows you to reach a much larger audience, whilst still utilizing VR technologies.

Given the relatively modest number of consumer headsets at home, the best use of VR is in high footfall areas that are rich in your target customers. Whether that's a train station, shopping centre or a trade show will depend on your specific industry. This is your chance to engage with your consumers with the best possible clarity, quality and overall impact. You will not be guessing what their home environment is like, rather, you will be in control and creating the perfect environment for your targeted user to experience your message. 

And you can go far beyond just a headset. Think about bringing some of the other senses into play. If it's a football experience, why not add the smell of cut grass? Or freshly roasted coffee as they look around a new kitchen? Some clients of ours at Visualise have even brought sand to go under people's feet as they recline on a deck chair and enjoy the glorious sunshine of the (VR) Seychelles.

It's not just about the 'wow' factor

When it comes to practicality, think about the comfort and security side too. People can feel exposed in VR, especially in a busy station, so give them a private space where they can keep their belongings next to them and be fully immersed without distraction.

Whatever the experience you create, ensure you make another version that lives online, even if it means turning an interactive VR experience into something more passive and linear. This will allow you to reach a lot more people to experience your content, even if you stagger it or just make it a teaser. 

Overall, the technology hiccups have been ironed out and VR is now easier to create and better than ever to experience. It has become the ultimate lean-forward medium for savvy brands and agencies to harness its content with incredible results.