What VR & augmented reality could mean for your brand & business
As part of Firebrand Talent’s #digitalks event series, Venessa Paech, Community Engagement Manager at Australia Post, recently spoke to audiences on the topic ‘360 degree storytelling: What virtual & augmented reality could mean for your brand & business’. The key areas Venessa focused on are detailed below.
Virtual Reality: the perfect time to experiment
VR has come a long way from 1952’s Sensorama, but the magic of journeying ‘inside’ another world still holds true.
Three primary trends have converged to open up a world of new creative possibility for this transportive wizardry:
If you’ve checked out Mary Meeker’s 2017 Internet Trends (and if not, I highly recommend you do), you’ll see just how expansive the global gaming market is. More time is spent per day playing video games than on social media. In 1995 there were 100 million gamers. Now, there’s 2.6 billion, and gaming tech is used to train kids how to code, pilots how to fly, and doctors how to operate. Why does this matter? Because where gaming goes, so goes the rest of the market. Game creators have led the way in creating VR experiences, and they’re introducing VR into our families and homes using consoles and phones (remember Pokémon Go and its Augmented Reality (AR) flashpoint? When VR is available from your couch, or in your pocket, it becomes less abstract and a lot more intimate.
The commoditisation of everything has seen the cost of VR headset technology dramatically reduce in the last five years. While you can still spend thousands on impressive high-end gear, companies like Google and Samsung have democratised access with cheap headsets and smart phone converters. The number of creatives and coders working in VR has notably increased, and more firms are emerging to shepherd newcomers through their first project.
It’s money in the bank
Tech giants like Facebook, Google and Apple are investing substantially in VR, and that’s no coincidence. Mark Zuckerberg has a vision for turning Facebook into a new incarnation of Second Life, and Alibaba are building a vast VR shopping mall, leveraging AR tactics to close the gap between on-and-offline. Youtube has a robust catalogue or VR and 360 content to plough through. The leaders see the future, and they believe it’s virtual.
A 2016 Oracle whitepaper that pondered Can Virtual Experiences Replace Reality? found that nearly 40% of sales and marketing leaders globally expect VR to positively shift customer experience – something everyone has their eye on.
So how could you use VR in your own organisation? Here are a few applications to spark the imagination:
VR has been dubbed an ‘empathy machine’ by filmmaker Chris Milk for its uncanny ability to induce emotional response in its users. In a market where consumers are self-selecting for meaning, and turning off to homogenous, inauthentic messages, immersive storytelling tools like VR open up mind-blowing potential.
The International Rescue Committee (IRC) used VR to drop users into the visceral experience of being a Syrian refugee. Their Four Walls project was used to provoke social action, raise awareness and raise funds, by making the refugee experience ‘real’ for those who can barely imagine it.
If your business solves a problem that’s difficult to define or can feel overwhelming, VR can present that problem in the first person. Rather than asking prospective customers to wade through papers, or watch videos, give them an app to download and view with their Google Cardboard, that shows them you understand the issue and have the solution.
IKEA combined product education and storytelling creativity by allowing users to move through an IKEA kitchen at the height of a small child. Remember what it was like when you’d do anything to see what was smelt so good on the stove?
Training & demonstration
Rolled out new features of a product you need to upskill an existing user base on? Ditch the instructional email or blog post, and hook them up with a virtual walk-through or tutorial. If your product is challenging or costly to demonstrate, you could use VR to show it to prospective customers remotely en masse, create a choose your own adventure factor tour, or even host a virtual launch event.
Zenith Aircraft use VR and 360-degree video to let people all over the world test-drive their kit planes and tour their product range, from the comfort of their own home. They lured a whole new audience to the excitement of aviation and let existing fans go even deeper into the details.
As of 2017, Paramedics in Victoria use situational VR to build resilience for the sensorial assault of working in high-stress and violent environments. Meanwhile the University of Newcastle is using the latest VR gear to teach and assess mid-wifery.
Like all things digital, VR can be measurable. Just as we know when someone drops out of a YouTube video, we can tell if someone views VR content, and which elements they are more or less engaged with. This can teach you a lot about your audience that can then be applied to other marketing or communications efforts.
Lloyd’s Register uses VR to move users through safety training, and learn more about their capabilities and weaknesses through the data captured. Their virtual execution also helped raise problem awareness and broadly educate around safety.
Time to experiment
Though it’s still early days for VR, we’re likely to see it more commonly woven into our personal and professional lives. The real estate, healthcare and not-for-profit sectors are among early adopters, but it’s a wide playing field. While the wow-factor is fresh, and the inspiration lively, now is a great time to strap on a headset and consider how this technology might help you tell your story, solve a problem, or look at things from a different perspective.Back