The first months of virtual reality marketing have made an impact on advertising as a whole, brands that want to take advantage should act now.
At the beginning of 2016, virtual reality was all the rage since VR headsets like the Oculus Rift had just hit the market and SXSW Interactive was a showroom for VR-related exhibitions.
Headset sales are expected to reach 9.6 million units this year and the latest buzz indicates that VR marketing is already starting to feel commonplace. As a result, VR marketing has moved from a speculative projection of the future to a full-blown reality.
Yet, for all the progress, has VR marketing hit its stride yet? Yes, for the most part.
Adoption Among Brands Soars
There weren’t many examples of VR creative just a few months ago, but now, they are popping up everywhere. Popular brands such as McDonald’s are jumping on the bandwagon in order to increase engagement. Part of virtual reality’s appeal to brands lies not just in the technology’s novelty but also in its accessibility to the average mobile phone owner.
“Virtual reality gives marketers a platform in which they can give a headset to customers, and they can experience visually what they’re purchasing,” says Eleonora Israele. Consumers can slide a smartphone inside a cardboard box to create a VR viewing device cheap enough to be given away as a promotion to encourage users to engage in the VR experience while testing a product.
Companies can bridge the gap for consumers who are unaware of or unsure about headset-based VR experiences by offering 360-degree video as a go-between. This type of video allows viewers to rotate their perspective as if they were moving their heads left, right, up and down. Hosted on content platforms, 360-degree videos are just as readily viewable on a mobile device as they are on a full-fledged VR headset. McDonald’s made use of 360-degree video to promote the recent “Angry Birds” film, and Hilton similarly took advantage of the format to increase direct bookings.
Hunger for Growth and New Experiences
With virtual reality in its infancy, some industry experts are concerned that the size of the VR market is a bit overhyped. The anticipation that sales of virtual reality headsets is expected to reach 64.8 million units by 2020 is challenged by the headset’s expensive cost and lack of available VR material on the market.
Yet, if market research is any indication, the technology could just be waiting to gain momentum. Some 69% of adults between 18 and 60 years old are thrilled about experiencing virtual reality, according to research by the Advanced Imaging Society.
Further research has found that:
5% of people want VR content related to adventure, travel or tourism
3% want to see VR for live events
9% wanted to use VR to help them with home design
These numbers show that while the market may not be mainstream, enough interest lingers to indicate that it has the potential to fully take off soon.
As demand increases, brands that avoid learning about VR marketing now could miss out on huge opportunities in the future as others capitalize on it. Those who wait and see could end up waiting to see opportunities pass by them.