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Successful Virtual Reality Advertising: Fact or Fantasy

Is the new reality of advertising Virtual Reality?

Successful Virtual Reality Advertising: Fact or Fantasy

Posted Friday October 07th, 2016 by in Trends + Technology.

In the beginning of 2016, proponents and critics alike were wondering if the new year was going to be the year of Virtual Reality (VR) in the marketing industry. An article posted in AdvertisingAge, May 2016, claimed that “VR is expected to be a $1 billion business in 2016, according to Deloitte Global, with hardware sales comprising $700 million and content spending contributing the rest.” Now, in the beginning of October, whether VR is the marketing vehicle of the future is still undecided.

In theory, VR is the ideal tool for getting your brand’s message out there. After all, it is everything that a marketing agency wants its campaign to be:

  • Attention grabbing: Whether this is because VR is novel, really cool, or both (we’re guessing both), it definitely stands out to audiences. It will especially appeal to tech-savvy millennials and the following generations.
  • Storytelling: An ad in Virtual Reality requires that you create a multi-faceted world around your brand. Just think of the storytelling possibilities.
  • Focused: Once your audience enters your world through the VR hardware, their attention is fully captured. Think with Google calls this experience “presence,” which is a term used in the VR industry to explain “the feeling that you’re really somewhere else.”
  • Interactive: Not only does VR make the viewer feel as if he or she is in the middle of a different world, the interface allows interaction. In other words, the viewer becomes an active participant.
  • Impactful: Experiential evidence shows that VR tends to elicit stronger emotions than merely watching an ad, which makes sense when you consider how immersed the viewer is in the action. It’s also no surprise that the more powerful the positive emotion, the more impact and memorability an ad will have, ideally leading to greater sales.

So will VR really work as a marketing tool? It seems so. A study on “10 Hot Consumer Trends 2016” by Ericsson Consumerlab included Virtual Reality in its list, citing that 64 percent of the people they surveyed “would like the ability to see an item’s actual size and form when shopping online.”

Want to see it in action? Mbryonic, a London-based interactive design studio specializing in creating virtual reality experiences, has put together a list and commentary on what they feel are the most successful 10 VR campaigns so far:

Sounds great, right? Well, before you start kicking yourself for not embarking on the VR journey yet, there are some things to consider:

  • Reaching your audience. The cost of Virtual Reality headsets are coming down and more companies are manufacturing them, but the truth is, use is not widespread. Are you sure your target audience will be the consumers buying (and using) the hardware?
  • Cost. Even if the hardware cost is coming down, the cost of producing a VR ad is not cheap. Plus most brands will have to rely on an outside production company to create it right now for no other reason than the necessary specialized skills and equipment.
  • Comfort and convenience. If you could choose between watching an ad on your TV, computer or phone or strapping on a cumbersome headpiece that won’t allow you to focus on anything but itself, which would you prefer? Enough said.

There is no doubt that the potential for Virtual Reality marketing is limitless; the question is whether or not the world is ready for it to take over. The answer to that is no. However, with the right planning and integration, VR could very well become one more extremely effective tool in your marketing toolbox.


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