Virtual Reality and the Real World – The Future of Advertising

Media and Advertising, like Technology, is an ever evolving, dynamic environment which has many facets, sub facets and specialties attached to it, with innovation usually positioned at its core. It is not surprising that with the rise of digital advertising in the 1990’s and Programmatic Trading in the latter part of the 2000’s, we are now experiencing yet another evolution of the ever expansive, dynamic wing of digital advertising: Virtual Reality.

With each iteration or subset of advertising technology we see entering the industry, proponents of said industry are also exposed to (in some cases) drastic, exciting and sometimes never before seen changes. In each instance these adaptations or advancements have the potential to change how media or content is consumed. And as a result, how advertisers differentiate themselves and evolve their corporate strategies to proliferate their brand, drive performance and advocacy, and stay relevant in the eyes of the consumer.

Virtual Reality offers something different, and below are five reasons why I believe it will change the future of marketing:

  1. Differentiation at a personal level – VR has the power to shift the orientation of a user or potential customer from simply being an observer of a brand, as is the case today, to being placed in the centre of the brand’s world. 
  1. An Immersive experience vs Bystander – With the advent of VR, brands have the power to create even more powerful, immersive, persuasive experiences that engage a user’s emotions and full range of motion. This is in contrast to the current environment, where a user is sitting in the proverbial football stands rather than being on the field! 
  1. Familiarity through Native First integration vs Intrusive and obstructive media – It is now possible for brands to create a positive, brand-led experience where they can integrate their content or advertising amongst a wider experience. This may provide the user a platform of familiarity and comfort, and allow them to explore a virtual world at their own leisure by choice – resulting in a more welcoming, seamless journey. 
  1. Leveraging low barrier access, curiosity and clever, seamless integration – As with most new technologies and shiny things, curiosity will be piqued, and with clever, seamless integrations brands will be able to connect with their customers in a unique way, that will drive higher levels of engagement. Additionally, as this technology proliferates, the economies of scale will allow for more competitive pricing resulting in (potentially) widespread adoption and access. 
  1. Effect of VR on other Media Mediums such as TV (shared experiences), Digital in general and Online Shopping – VR has the potential to fundamentally shift the way users watch their favourite TV shows or movies, as well as their online buying behaviour. For example, a user could be brought to an online shopping centre or store where, through the VR platform, they can see how a new jacket or watch may look before buying. 

Another example could be shared experiences through TV viewing, i.e. whereby virtual rooms are created for friends or family who reside in different locations to experience the show “together”, allowing them to discuss the show in real time.

All of the above touch on the real world effects that VR imparts on a user all while they are in the privacy of their own homes or in public. Virtual reality unveils opportunities for advertisers to engage the right potential customers at the right time. Using data and technology as their rod and sword, VR will help to drive advertiser goals, such as brand association, advocacy, familiarity, performance and relevance in an evolving, dynamic digital marketplace.

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