The last few years have seen huge leaps forward in terms of virtual and augmented reality technology. VR and AR aren’t just for Hollywood blockbusters anymore. Creating VR content and AR content is affordable, accessible, and insanely popular.
As more and more brands cotton on to the possibilities of the technology, you might also find that VR/AR can breathe new life into your brand’s content strategy. Here’s how…
Getting started with VR/AR
The popularity of augmented reality in brand marketing is on the up. It was predicted to grow at a rate of 30.79% between 2017 and 2021, with a global financial impact of $29.5 billion. The technology too is growing, and can be largely categorised into three main types:
- Gamified experiences: as the name suggests, these involves turning VR/AR experiences into games, where users can meet challenges and score points.
- Emotion-centric and immersive experiences: these are wholly-immersive experiences where multiple senses are stimulated (e.g. through real-world motion, smell or sound) to transport users to different places, settings or situations.
- Point-of-view experiences: these involve letting users get first-hand virtual simulations of real-world scenarios that they could never usually experience.
For marketers, it is the gamification of VR and AR that can provide the most reward. Turning your content marketing into a game motivates your customers by offering incentives and rewards in return for engagement. Savvy marketers can encourage and incite desired behaviors or actions — such as signing up to email newsletters or sharing content through social media — in a fun, exciting way.
Brands doing augmented reality right
There’s no way you got through the summer of 2016 without wandering around your city trying desperately to catch a Pikachu, Weedle, or Ditto. Yes, 2016 was the year of Pokemon Go, and as well as being the best time-waster ever, it’s also a great example of how VR content can go massively viral.
Upon release, the game received 6 million downloads in the US, New Zealand, and Australia alone. Further releases were even put on hold due to the strain put on their servers! The innovative nature of the game sent it viral, and for a few months in 2016 it was all anyone could talk about.
And brands the world over were quick to incorporate this into their marketing too. Brick-and-mortar retailers became sponsored locations and gave players discounts to use in-store, and coffee chain Starbucks even launched a Pokemon Go Frappuccino!
Naturally, the hype eventually died down. But it serves as an example of how augmented and virtual reality can form a significant and successful part of your brand’s content strategy.
For another brand that used augmented reality in their content strategy with huge success, we look to Pepsi Max. In 2014, they rigged up a London bus stop with a camera and AR technology to show a number of mind-boggling events to passers-by.
Loose tigers and monsters emerging from the streets were all beamed onto the screen, and the campaign led to a 30% increase in sales for the soft drinks brand. It was dynamic and daring, and resulted in massive engagement across multiple channels.
How to launch your own VR/AR campaign
To get started on your own VR/AR content campaign, work backwards from your end goal.
What sort of engagement do you want from your customer? What you want to get out of it?
You might want more chatter across social media platforms, or to launch or demonstrate a new product or service to your clients. Focusing on the why will help guide you when it comes to the how.
One of the great things about using virtual or augmented reality is its current accessibility. Even a business on a tight budget can use VR and AR to make their content strategy sparkle, and it’s only going to get more affordable as time goes by — there’s nothing stopping you from running with VR/AR today.
The first thing to do when you know your goals is familiarise yourself with the technologies available on the market. Examples of accessible channels include:
Creating content for those channels might not be as daunting as you’d expect. There are high-quality 360-degree cameras available for very little money these days, and there’s certainly no shortage of available support in the form of online communities.
That said, it’s entirely understandable if you’re reluctant to create the content yourself: when it comes to options such as 3d modelling, poor implementation is worse than none at all. Thankfully, the marketplace for VR/AR designers is booming, producing companies such as VRAI that focus on VR storytelling and can do most of the work for you.
Whether you’ll ultimately want to outsource the content creation or handle it in-house will depend on various factors, including how prepared you are to train in VR/AR, the complexity of the project, and how much you’re willing to spend on the project. If you’re the type of person who starts off every morning with content marketing blogs and a marketing podcast or two, then you might gain a lot from teaching yourself to do it, particularly since software like Google Tour Creator is making VR creation much easier.
Be mindful, though, that the most successful VR/AR campaigns use gamification (complete with sophisticated conversion tracking) to encourage users to interact and engage with brands, and that calls for a more sophisticated approach that beginner-friendly software is unlikely to be able to provide. Consider all the options available to you to see which will best suit your business and your goals, and look to other brands for ideas too.
What makes a successful VR/AR campaign?
So what are the hallmarks of a good VR/AR campaign?
- Engagement: your campaign should connect your customers with your brand in a way that captures their imagination.
- Virality: a unique, creative approach to your product or service will help to send your campaign viral by making it shareable on social platforms.
- Longevity: being a one-trick pony just isn’t enough. Create a campaign with staying power that stays fresh, no matter when it’s experienced.
- Accessibility: avoid anything too complex or difficult to encounter. It needs to be something that is easy to understand and that everyone can enjoy.
- Interactivity: a experience that truly immerses the consumer will stay with them for days, weeks, and months to come.
Creating VR Content
Virtual and augmented reality are changing the marketing landscape for brands everywhere. Your content can come alive with the implementation of these new technologies. As they become increasingly accessible, it’s vital that your brand makes the most of the exciting opportunities they can offer.
Guest author: Kayleigh Alexandra is a content writer for Micro Startups — a site dedicated to spreading the word about startups and small businesses of all shapes and sizes. Visit the blog for the latest marketing insights from top experts and inspiring entrepreneurial stories.