Marketing is full of false definitives: Facebook is dead; MySpace is back; content is king. (OK, MySpace probably is dead).

Some of these statements are true, some less so. VR, though, is one development that is absolutely going to change how things are done in marketing.

In much the same way as there is a pre and post mobile world, marketing will have a before and after VR world. It’s the holodeck of marketing…and it’s going to allow you to boldly go where no marketer has gone before.

Here’s why.

What’s a Holodeck?

The Holodeck is one of the most iconic features from the enormously successful Star Trek, particularly The Next Generation.

It’s a fully immersive virtual reality world which allows the Jean-Luc Picard, Riker, Data, and the rest of the crew to be transported into a digital realm of their design, one that feels as real to them as life itself.

Using the holodeck removed storytelling restrictions that Star Trek faced because of time, geography, rationality, and mortality: it snapped the parameters of reality and made anything possible.

This allowed the crew to journey back in time, travel forward in time, practice at war, and have moments of philosophical realization.

What is VR?

Simply, VR (Virtual Reality) is a digitally created, artificial reality. It is immersive, sensory, and visually engaging; it is as if you stepped inside the matrix and became part of another world. And now, thanks to tech consumables, it’s here, there, and everywhere.

VR is often experienced through head-mounted displays (HMDs) that take you into the VR world. Examples of these include:

  1. Google Cardboard: the lowest cost option at just $7.99
  2. Oculus Rift: purchased by Facebook in 2013, many consider this the VR headset all rounder
  3. Sony PlayStation VR: launched in October 2016, this is Sony’s foray into the VR world
  4. HTC Vive: believed to be technically the best VR headset available, but at risk of falling into Betamax style obscurity
  5. Daydream View: the comfort choice, but one which does not give a ‘proper’ VR experience
  6. Samsung Gear VR: a sleek mid-range option. Only suitable for Samsung Galaxy smartphones

Content creators need to wake up to the range of available VR technology — and start factoring in VR design and engineering into product and campaign planning.

 

Star Trek predicted the future

Star Trek has a storied history of seeing into the future of technology, having predicted iPads, mobile phones, flat screen TV’s, and voice search (among others) — years before they were actually realized.

With its reality snapping and sensory immersive modus operandi, VR is the realization of the holodeck. And although it may be sometime yet before the experience provided by VR is as real as the holodeck, that is the end goal – “if you need me, I’ll be in VR” will be a popular phrase in 2075 (we predict).

VR is already changing things

VR isn’t a fad, nor is it the sole domain of computer gaming and fantasists. Social media and e-commerce giants have already taken note of the potential of VR in marketing. And where the giants go, pretty soon we all shall follow.

Facebook recently used the technology in a campaign which saw founder Mark Zuckerberg visit Puerto Rico without having to leave his chair. All through the magic of Facebook Spaces:

The world of ecommerce is also catching on to the need welcome VR into its life. Online platforms like Shopify provide apps like LIVEb4buy, which allow for a 360° shopping experience.

VR has also made it’s way into the video advertising campaigns of major corporations, with McDonald’s releasing an advert that merges a VR headset with their Happy Meal box:

Why you need to take VR seriously

Marketing is about connecting a customer with a brand or product –  your brand or product. VR allows you to ramp up the level of connection you can make with your audiences by immersing them in new worlds. For brands that sell products, as well as experiences, VR can help customers get a real ‘taste’ before they commit to buying.

This connectivity is grounded in cold, hard, data: 62% of shoppers saying that they engage more with brands who incorporate VR, while 71% believe a brand to be forward thinking if they use VR.

You might not have the budget of McDonald’s and Facebook. But if you fail to follow their lead then your marketing strategy won’t just be left behind — it will leave your customers unsatisfied.

Adverts are already changing — they’re becoming more visually immersive and expansive by incorporating VR technology. (And let’s face it — more exciting). 

Not only do more customers want to see VR, but more people and more people are going to be able to afford the headset technology that allows them to use it – Google already provide a low cost HMD and predictions are that sales of HMDs will rise from 22 million units in 2017, to 67 million in 2021.

VR is the holodeck of marketing for its ability to create a virtual representation of reality. However, while the holodeck was fiction and imagined in a far off future, VR is here now — and it’s sticking around for the long haul.

 

Victoria Greene is a branding consultant and freelance writer. On her blog, VictoriaEcommerce, she shares tips on e-commerce and digital marketing. She is passionate about using her experience to help brands improve their advertising and marketing campaigns — especially when it comes to using cutting-edge tech to really impress.