Are you ready to respond to consumer desires for a more ‘fluid’ reality?
According to Facebook IQ’s latest report ’20 shifts for 2020′, people around the world are hungry for a more fluid reality.
Facebook interviewed people from diverse cultures including Nigeria, South Korea, the UK and US and 68% of them said they see interactive realities such as virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) as becoming part of their everyday life.
Whether that’s the ability to virtually attend an event from anywhere in the world or an amplified shopping experience, they’re excited to embrace it.
“From gaming to documentary storytelling to inspiring social good, the possibilities for creating empathy, connection and transportive experiences will only continue to grow.” Facebook IQ ’20 shifts for 2020′
Many Australian businesses are already using VR to meet marketing objectives
I recently attended an industry talk titled ‘VR now, an agency perspective’ hosted by Firebrand Talent and Vitamin T. VR industry experts from Havvas, S1T2 Creative, Imagination and consultant Paul Willey shared case studies and insights gained from recent AR/VR campaigns.
From automotive to household electrical, home insurance to government agencies, I was surprised by the variety of businesses already embracing VR and the breadth of marketing challenges it can be used for.
Many marketers and business owners still have VR parked firmly in the too hard or too experimental basket. However, knowing that consumers are ready to embrace it, it’s at least worth adding to your next brainstorm session. VR could turn out to be 2018’s hottest marketing tool.
5 ways you can use interactive realities to achieve marketing objectives
1. Engaging new audience groups through gamification
Pokémon Go took AR to another level in 2016 and many countries around the world already have popular VR gaming arcades. Gaming and AR/VR pretty much go hand in hand, so gamifying your AR/VR marketing messages can be a great first step into the world of fluid reality.
IAG insurance uses VR gamification to reach millenials
Experiential agency Imagination recently used VR gaming to reach millenials for their Australia/New Zealand ‘IAG First Place’ campaign.
The game was designed to get people thinking differently about insurance and risk in the home, something that many millenials may not have on their radar. Players wearing VR headsets were given just 90 seconds to identify a range of hazards within a virtual home situation.
According to IAG, the campaign yielded positive results. In Australia, nearly 60% of those experiencing the technology identified a hazard in their home, and of those 26% fixed a hazard. Nearly half of those who experienced First Place stated they were very likely to recommend an IAG brand, opening up shared value opportunities through claims reduction and revenue growth.
Tip from Andy Nguyen of Imagination: Keep cost per interaction low by minimising user interaction time (in this instance it was 90 seconds per experience).
2. Educating consumers about intangible product features
Many product features that get marketers excited are often intangible and confusing to consumers. These may be the unique selling points or innovations that development teams have spent years working on but if consumers just don’t get it, all that innovation investment could be wasted.
VR is a great way to educate people about those more obscure or hidden features by way of immersion or experience. Many people learn best by kinaesthetic (tactile) means. Getting to know about product features through an immersive VR experience could greatly increase a user’s understanding of the product, memory of the experience and propensity to spread the word to others.
Helping consumers understand Dyson’s invisible technologies
Creative technology agency S1T2 were engaged by Dyson to help promote their new air purifier and fan, the Dyson Pure Cool Link.
The agency built a VR tablet app that allowed users to interact with and learn about different sources of toxins in a room, all of which Dyson’s purifier addresses.
The experience began with the user scanning the room in a search for identifiable toxins like pollen, pet dander, bacteria and mould.
Once they found a source, represented by a stream of particles flowing off an object, they could interact with it. The interaction triggered a particle from the cloud to levitate before them on the screen alongside a breakdown of information about it.
Through the use of VR, a concept that would have been challenging to grasp becomes so much clearer.
Putting consumers inside a new Ford engine to showcase its power
Another VR experience created by S1T2 took people into a Ford EcoBoost engine to demonstrate product features. Created for the Shanghai motor show, it used size and perspective to showcase how the engine is small but powerful.
Participants were virtually ‘shrunk’ and invited to go inside the engine and explore. As well as gaining a detailed understanding of the engine’s technical capabilities and workings, they were exposed to a number of scenarios designed to showcase the engine’s power. One of these experiences included participants being virtually stomped on by an elephant to represent the power of the engine’s pistons.
Tip from Chris Panzetta of S1T2: Use immersion, alterity (a feeling that you are someone else) and agency (a feeling that your actions have consequences) in your concepts to maximise user experience.
3. Engaging audiences through interactive events – on scale
VR is perfect for engaging people at events and creating memorable experiences. However, one of the main objections to using VR in marketing campaigns is the perceived lack of scalability and return on investment. It can be done, but it may involve a multi-layered approach like this 2016 campaign by agencies Groove Jones and North Kingdom.
Taking horror to a new level for the American Horror Story TV series
Groove Jones were tasked with promoting the 6th instalment of the American Horror Story (AHS) series.
The strategy was to take fans on a horrifying journey through fear, vulnerability, and panic, allowing them to experience first-hand what they’ve come to love most about the series.
The campaign started with a VR experience at Comic-Con San Diego designed to give participants a taste of the horror the new series was going to bring. Fans were able to immerse themselves in the world of American Horror Story, subjecting themselves to a nail-biting experience.
They entered a darkened silo and were taken to a room where they lay down on a bed under a white sheet. Screams could be heard from outside of the silo with people shivering and shaking as they exited.
The campaign was scaled to reach more people via a mobile tour. A smaller version of the experience was built into a truck which travelled around the US, setting up in cemeteries and other creepy spots.
Watch this video of two ‘classic screamers’ inside the van to get a feel for how deeply these VR experiences cut into your soul!
The final layer of monetisation was an HTC Vive Port home experience to accompany the box set DVD release.
The experience was one of the post popular attractions at Comic-Con garnering over 2 million social impressions and over 440 million earned media impressions. Since then, thousands of fans have been able to participate in the virtual horror from the comfort of their own homes through the HTC Viveport. (Source: Shortyawards)
Bringing the spirit of the Anzacs to the nation’s school children
Experiential agency Imagination was briefed to create a wide-reaching community event to commemorate a century of service of Australia’s armed forces.
Based on the insight that people feel a deeper emotional connection if they can experience history rather than just observe it, Imagination created an interactive exhibition called The Spirit of Anzac Centenary Experience. Over 2 years it travelled to 23 locations around Australia. It featured recreated First World War environments and genuine historical artefacts from the Australian War Memorial, plus special AR effects and a narrated audio guide.
To scale the campaign they created an app and sent 12,500 Google Cardboard headsets (simple VR viewers) to Aussie schools. This allowed tens of thousands more children to experience the show via the 360 degree vision offered within the app.
Tip from Imagination’s Andy Nguyen – use VR to take people to places they can’t normally go.
(Imagination once sent a drone into the Sydney NYE fireworks to broadcast the show using AR through an app).
4. Changing perceptions of a brand or organisation
Many brands and organisations have a series of associated perceptions that can be hard to break. For the organisations that want or need to change those perceptions, traditional communications methods may not be enough.
The immersive, engaging experience created by VR can be an awesome tool for changing perceptions, as demonstrated by a campaign for the Australian Defence Force (ADF).
How VR is changing perceptions of the Australian Defence Force
Australian digital agency Havas Group was briefed by the ADF to use virtual reality to reach a new generation of recruits.
While researching for the campaign, the team at Havas realised that an even bigger opportunity lay within changing perceptions about the organisation. They wanted to show the new generation that there were many jobs opportunities that didn’t involve guns and front line activity.
Havas built a VR experience called ‘Category 5’ to be rolled out at career expos. Set in the aftermath of a tropical cyclone, players would be charged with leading the relief effort. It was designed to put their perceptions and problem solving skills to the test.
The VR experience was completely interactive and allowed operators to track actions such as where players looked, what they touched and how quickly the solved problems. This enabled the ADF recruiters to develop a better idea of the types of army roles that players would be best for and to have more targeted conversations with them.
Their business objective was to change perceptions of candidates at university trade shows and career expos and it really worked.
Post experience research found:
- 73% felt more positive about a career in the ADF
- 92% had better understanding of the ADF
And most importantly:
- 300% increase in Expressions Of Interest forms
(source: Havas Category 5 case study)
This VR experience is currently touring the country with up to 9 different locations active at once.
Tip from Bohdi Lewis of Havvas Group: Include trackable elements within experiences that allow you to better understand users or build in mechanisms to capture contact details for future marketing opportunities.
5. Immersing people in brand stories
Perhaps the simplest yet most powerful opportunity of virtual reality is to deeply engage people in brand stories through immersion.
The empathy and presence afforded by VR really magnifies a person’s ability to become part of the story they’re ‘inside’, rather than being a viewer on the edge of the story, looking in.
Using VR to tell the story of the Toms shoes giving trip
The Toms shoe brand is a known for both storytelling and giving. The brand is based on a promise to give a pair of shoes for every shoe sold.
At their flagship shore in Venice, California, consumers can put themselves into the story of the brand by experiencing a ‘giving with Toms’ trip.
By sitting on a chair in the store and wearing a VR headset, shoppers can be transported to a remote village in Peru where they get to see first hand how the gift of a pair of Toms shoes can delight the recipient and impact their life.
According to those who have experienced it, it’s emotional, memorable and makes you want to tell others about it.
Watch the video and see what you think – even without a VR headset on, I was able to use the 360 degree viewing capabilities to transport myself into the village.
Tip: VR doesn’t have to use all its bells and whistles to make an impact. Simply using 360 video it may be the perfect vehicle to move emotions and engage people in a powerful story you need to tell.
Is it time to consider “reality planning” in your comms planning?
Facebook IQ’s ’20 shifts for 2020′ report recommends that marketers at least consider the opportunities that fluid reality can bring.
“Right now, you can prepare for the shift to VR by leveraging 360 photo and video to extend your creative across more channels and to a wider audience than through VR devices alone.”
Facebook used the release of the upcoming Jumanji film to showcase its new VR360 experience directly in news feeds this week. Users take part in a themed scavenger hunt and explore the Jumanji jungle. Dive into the Jumanji 360 experience here (it takes a while to load).
Personally I’m most excited by the opportunities VR brings to the shopping experience. I’m not alone. According to a report by WorldPay, ‘48% of shoppers think that VR is the future of shopping’ and a staggering 62% ‘think that AR and VR has the ability to change how we shop and that it’s way more fun than online shopping’.
Like I need any more reasons to swipe that credit card….