Experiential marketing is becoming a virtual reality

Until Virtual Reality existed in the hands of consumers, the closest you could get people to stepping inside your brand was Harry Potter World or the M&M store, but that's about to change says Adludio CMO and co-founder Howard Kingston.

Samsung's Galaxy VR headset
Samsung's Galaxy VR headset

VR was top of many consumers’ Christmas lists this last year; it’s increasingly affordable and it’s beating most people’s expectations by a mile. VR is also the closest advertisers are going to get to a fully captive audience.

There’s no chatting while you use it, no making a cup of tea or checking your phone – once you’re in you’re in.

There’s no chatting while you use it, no making a cup of tea or checking your phone – once you’re in you’re in.

Brands need to make the most of the environment

So how are advertisers going to make the most of this environment? With mobiles and tablets, for example, brands weren’t given the opportunity to make full use of their touch-screen nature and instead saw TV ads ineffectually repurposed for these screens. As VR becomes increasingly mainstream, it remains to be seen if new ad formats will be made available to brands to take full advantage and reach the potential of these new contextual environments.

We’ve seen an initial foray from brands like Coca Cola, which staged a virtual reality experience at the World Cup enabling audiences to enter the locker room and play on the pitch. HBO also invited fans to explore Westeros through "Ascend the Wall" at the second annual Game of Thrones exhibition in

Advertising that is interactive and immersive that can form part of an experience, rather than being something interruptive.

Times Square using Oculus Rift. Within the automotive field Nissan has been positioning itself as a leading force within VR, debuting ‘Chase The Thrill’ at the Paris Motor Show, which showcased the features of the Nissan Juke, while enabling audiences to rollerblade through a simulated city. At the Tokyo Motor Show visitors were also invited to design their own Nissan iDX while exploring a virtual world created by the car manufacturer.

Ad formats need to reflect behaviour

What these examples show is that advertising that is interactive and immersive that can form part of an experience, rather than being something interruptive. This is something I hope we see more of in 2015, with brands increasingly looking at how modern consumers are using and enjoying technology, and adopting ad formats that reflect and complement this behaviour. Using long form TV ads on mobile, for example, is largely ineffective because consumers will likely take the option to skip when they’re outside of the home – representing a huge missed opportunity for a brand interaction.

Mobile consumers favour shorter interactions that make use of the touchscreen nature of the devices they use. In response to this as an industry we need to adjust our thinking and develop different

There is no reason to continue using tired ad formats inappropriately on devices they were not intended for that at best are ignored by consumers and at worst irritate them. 

content for specific platforms/screens. As new technologies enter the market we will hopefully see the industry move further away from repurposing without thought and more towards using formats that are made for the environment that they will be consumed in.

The opportunities are obvious

The opportunities with VR are obvious – imagine that, in an immersive world, your VR experience brought you to the front row at London Fashion Week, where you could browse new fashion styles from the comfort of your own sofa. This doesn’t have to be limited to VR though – mobile and tablet experiences in particular should be geared towards this too, enabling consumers to touch and interact with ads in the unique and intuitive ways that these new devices open up, and were intended for.

Moving into 2015 there is no reason to continue using tired ad formats inappropriately on devices they were not intended for that at best are ignored by consumers and at worst irritate them. Let’s look to VR as an opportunity in itself, but also as a marker of what advertising can and should be moving towards in the coming years.



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