Immersive technologies are closer to a marketer’s dream than most realise
Last year, the IAB reported that more than a quarter of Internet users worldwide now have ad blockers turned on. The ones who don’t, are becoming blind to traditional web and mobile advertising. Pushing information is no longer enough to get the consumer’s attention. To stand out, marketers need to create an emotional relationship with the brand, by taking consumers on an interactive experience, where they’ll perform or witness a set of actions. That is called experiential marketing, and it has become increasingly popular over the past few years.
It’s all about the experience
From RedBull, to Snap or Porsche, pretty much every Fortune 500 company have given it a go. Experiential marketing works because it creates a one on one interaction with the brand, instead of passively receiving information. It’s fun, surprising, sometimes shocking, and if done right it will always imprint a strong memory, because you’ve lived it, not just watched it.
Snapchat Spectacles was a prime example of experiential marketing
The limiting factor is the distribution – these events are expensive to put together, and the reach is limited, since it involves real interactions. That is why most of these experiences are recorded and broadcasted on YouTube or Facebook to reach a global audience. and Only a handful are in the right place at the right time to actually experience it, while most people witness the experience from the outside.
I believe that VR and AR are the ultimate medium to distribute experiential marketing campaigns at scale. VR/AR ticks all the boxes of a successful experiential campaign: it takes your customers on an interactive journey, it creates a one on one interaction with the brand, and builds a long lasting memory.
However, because they are digital, VR/AR experiences are easier to distribute. Instead of letting a few customers experience the brand and broadcasting the results to others via video, with VR everyone gets to experience it – in the comfort of their own homes, in arcades, at a mall, or at an event. The experience can also be tailored for different customer segments, or different countries, creating an even better experience. It can also be updated regularly with new content or new offers, so that that brand can stay ‘top of mind’. It has all the advantage of real interactions, but none of the drawbacks.
A good example for VR is the Boursin experience, a cheese brand (!) taking their consumers on a sensorial journey across the ingredients necessary to make the product. This is a great example because they were able to create an experience that cannot be experienced in the real world. Boursin got over 200k views for this experience.
An example for AR is City Social, a cocktail bar in London, that developed the first ever AR cocktail menu. Customers can experience the story of each drinks in AR – something they’re likely to share of tell their friends to come experience it.
A scalable model
However, today the cost of development of these experiences is still high. There is still friction in the distribution, as brands need to market their experience for users to download or stream it. There is the need for a different kind of experiential marketing in VR/AR, that drastically cuts the development costs, and can be distributed anywhere.
I believe that interactive product placements are the low hanging fruit of experiential marketing in VR. Instead of being a standalone app, the experience is an interactive model of their product, or an object related to their brand. These models will be designed from scratch, or better – scanned directly into a 3D model, and therefore relatively cheap to produce as the technology matures. They can be static, or allow for basic interactions, such as touch, grab, share, or buy. A simple but powerful one to one interaction the customers will remember.
Because they are light, these placements will be natively integrated within other VR and AR apps – such as games, entertainment, or social apps – leveraging their existing audience. To ensure that the placements are relevant to the content, platforms will allow content owners to filter the type of advertisers allowed to appear in the experience. You can imagine cans of Pepsi in RecRoom, or a Samsung branded tablet in Bigscreen.
Examples of VR/AR product placements
These placements create a short but memorable experience, with a level of interaction simply not possible with videos. That interactivity has been shown to increase product tangibility and incentivise purchases. Viewability of these placements will be tracked via gaze tracking, so advertisers can understand how people are consuming the experience.
At the end of the day, it is all about ROI, and it feels like for the first time with VR and AR, marketers will soon be able to distribute and quantify the performance of their experiential marketing efforts, at scale. And that future is closer than you might think.
Disclosure: I run Admix.in and we are working on brand placements with some of the largest advertising agencies.
Images credits: Snapchat, Admix
About the author
Samuel Huber – CEO, Admix.in
Admix is the first monetisation platform for XR, helping VR/AR developers like High Fidelity or Rabbit Mountain monetise their content through non-intrusive advertising. Admix is the first technology to serve these ads programmatically, building new standards together with Yahoo, AOL and other demand partners. Lately, Admix setup the Admix academy, a set of free resources for XR creators, which has grown to over 4000 members in less than 2 months. Established in 2017, the company is funded and employs 12 staff, between London and San Francisco.