How important are Virtual & Augmented Reality for marketing?
Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality may be the new hot trend, but how important are they for your marketing campaigns?
Virtual Reality (VR) first emerged into public consciousness in the 1990s, with ‘Virtual Reality Machines’ appearing in stores. This was a time of basic graphics and storylines, which would be played into a specially-designed mask, which a user would wear over their eyes, and move around in a specially designed platform, normally playing some kind of game.
Then, all of a sudden, VR was gone. The VR machines seemed to disappear along with the large CD stores that used to be the main place they were found. For many people, it was assumed that VR was a passing trend.
Fast forward to around 2007, and VR began to make a comeback, the form of the Nintendo Wii, which allowed users to control actions on a screen through motion-led actions. Since then, VR has become a lot more realistic, and new masks such as those offered by Oculus taking gaming experiences to a new level.
Virtual Reality vs. Augmented Reality
Around the same period, a new, related technology was introduced, which sought to make the most of the omnipotent devices we use in our everyday lives.
Augmented Reality (AR) essentially brought the VR mask right into the screens of our smartphones and tablets, allowing developers to create interactive apps that use a smartphone’s camera to merge the real with the virtual within a screen.
Have you used the Google Translate app recently? It now lets you point your camera at a piece of text in a foreign language, and it translates it for you automatically into your screen. Or how about Gucci’s new app that lets you try on different shoes using just your phone? That’s Augmented Reality.
However, while VR & AR have clear and obvious usages and applications for Gaming, Information and Retail apps, how seriously should they be taken in Marketing strategies more broadly?
Should I use AR, VR, both (or none) in my Marketing Strategy?
Put simply, the answer is “It depends”.
Just because technology exists doesn’t mean that we have to use it.
In some cases, creating a VR or AR app as part of your content strategy might be a game-changing move, while the opposite might also be the case: your marketing strategy might not need or benefit from either at all.
Technology works best when it addresses a need or improves a service, and a well functioning, content-driven marketing strategy should first and foremost address some kind of need on the part of your users.
Choices or experiences?
The key strength of both VR and AR is their ability to provide a multitude of choices to your users, which otherwise would not be possible.
So, being able to provide users with information about your product or service in a fun, interactive way might be a good reason to choose to build an AR or VR app.
If your company is in the business of providing experiences – for example a boutique hotel, spa or restaurant – you might jump to the conclusion that it would make sense to try to convey that experience through a VR app.
However, this is where it gets tricky. Actually being inside your hotel (or spa, restaurant etc.), with its unique lighting, smell, and the human, friendly attitude of your staff – will of course be different to what can be replicated in a VR or AR app.
For many such ‘experiential’ services, it sometimes very much is the case of ‘simple is better’ and to leave as much to the imagination as possible.
So, attempting to recreate your service’s unique experience might not only be a waste of time and resources, but it might end up misrepresenting your service, and lessening its impact. There might very well be more subtle, less intrusive ways to present your service digitally.
There is no doubt that keeping apace of new technology trends is a must for anyone involved in developing market strategies. However, whether or not new technology is adopted and employed should be a question that is given careful consideration.
After all, technology is meant to serve a concrete purpose. If technology is being used just for the sake of it, then it’s probably not working.
At Bocasay, we know how to develop technology that works for our clients. Get in touch to find out how we can turn your ideas into concrete realities.