A Look Into the Future: How Will VR & Marketing Intersect?

As an increasing amount of people have access to VR headsets and technology, brands are finding space in the virtual realm.

Some of the biggest players in tech—such as Google, Facebook and Samsung—are investing heavily in virtual reality. As an increasing amount of people have access to VR headsets and technology, brands are finding space in the virtual realm.

It’s a bit early to say exactly how brands can market via VR, but the possibilities are exciting. Imagine the Golden State Warriors selling a courtside VR experience, putting an Oculus Rift owner on the same hardwood as Stephen Curry. Coca-Cola could create a fun experience with a celebrity endorser.

So how far away are we from making something like this a more common reality? It might be closer than you think.

Joshua Keller, CEO of Union Square Media, talked with SocialTimes about VR and how brands can use it:

The most exciting aspect of VR is that the possibilities of it are limitless. Unlike traditional marketing forms like print, radio, and TV where you’re confined to a certain box of how you can spin campaigns, with VR marketers are much less restrained in the creativity of their campaigns. An auto-maker can offer virtual test drives or can walk users virtually through the manufacturing process. It is much more personal than a commercial spot where they’re seeing a model drive a car along the coast.

Brands are already starting to dip their toe in the pool, using virtual reality in marketing campaigns. For instance, McDonald’s is bringing VR to Happy Meals.

Ben Hordell, partner at DXagency, told SocialTimes that early efforts are encouraging—and show that virtual reality doesn’t have to be an expensive experience:

I think the most exciting aspect of VR use is that the use of the technology is seemingly limitless. VR creates 360 degree worlds that previously did not exist.  When you marry the technology with the creativity of marketers, the possibilities are endless. Additionally, I think what is very exciting is that brands like The New York Times and McDonalds are making efforts to make these experiences accessible to the masses with paper based viewers and eliminating the reliance on expensive hardware.

Although Samsung is making VR more practical with a smartphone-based experience, Facebook has made waves with Oculus Rift—technology the company acquired in 2014. Now that Oculus Rift units have started shipping (and CEO Mark Zuckerberg livestreamed a guided tour of the headset), the future marketing implications are exciting.

Both Hordell and Keller agreed that Facebook could be medium through which many people first experience this new wave of VR. Facebook’s work with 360-degree video (and making that content available on Oculus Rift) is evidence that the social network is serious about creating an experience within virtual reality.

Keller said that Facebook’s moves will be key in the future of mass VR:

Facebook has huge potential to bring VR to the masses. If a company like Volvo is using the technology for consumers to test drive a new car model, they’re only limited to the demographic of consumers in the market for a new car with interest in Volvo. Facebook users are as simple as consumers looking to consume, therefore they have the broadest audiences. They can bring VR into living rooms, offices, dorm rooms, hospital rooms, where consumers can socially share what’s going on in their reality in real time with people hundreds of miles away. Imagine sharing a child’s first steps with their grandparents as if the grandparents are physically there.

Readers: What other branded experiences can you picture via VR?

Image courtesy of Oculus on Facebook