Virtual reality is set to explode as 2016 is hailed as the year that VR hits the mainstream.
Previously only the remit of developers and die hard obsessives, the long awaited release of Oculus Rift pre-order has everyone excited that the virtual world is soon to become a reality for the everyday consumer.
The recent flood of new and improved VR tech has proved that developers have been working tirelessly to eliminate issues like the feeling of motion sickness that has hindered users so far. With an anticipated 12m in VR headset sales by the end of 2016, virtual reality is finally set to hit the big time. And fast.
For marketers, the intimacy that VR offers is key to its appeal. Brands can get up close and personal to consumers in a way like never before. But what makes for effective VR advertising? In such an intense medium, great story telling has to be at the heart of engagement.
This month, Thorsten Wiedemann became the first human to spend 48 hours in the virtual world. What did he learn? Well, the virtual world is still pretty boring. Thorsten describes how at about 20 hours his new world became unbearably repetitive. Right now, we need to develop better content in order for consumers to spend any length of time in their new virtual world.
So enthusiastic marketers need to tread carefully – the new language of VR can have much worse and further reaching negative impact on consumer ideas than the traditional ad. Badly conceived VR experiences can leave viewers feeling sick or uncomfortable in their new world, leaving a lingering bad brand association.
Despite the potential pitfalls, some brands have already courageously ventured into this new and unknown world. Here’s some past campaigns who we think got it right:
Hiking boot brand, Merrell, launched a VR ad last year that placed viewers high up in the mountains on a perilous wooden bridge. Heralded as the first commercial use of Oculus with motion capture technology, users were able to actually walk around and explore their virtual world. Surrounded by landslides and wind with a trembling ground, the treacherous trail left customers squealing in both fear and delight – a sure sign of VR success.
North Face got creative last year and created their own mini South Pole in a South Korean shopping mall. Using the Oculus rift headset, shoppers were transported as they rode in a sled pulled by huskies. But just as users settled into their new virtual world, the headsets were whipped off to reveal a real pack of huskies that raced them round a lap of the mall. Effectively combining the real and virtual worlds, the brand gave the users a surprising and exhilarating experience that they are unlikely to forget anytime soon.
Samsung’s virtual reality stunt allowed people to swim with sharks in the middle of the desert. Yes, you read that right…
In a bid to prove the Gear VR’s ability to make you feel like you’ve entered another world completely, Samsung built a diving shop in Australia’s outback where curious visitors came face-to-face with one of the ocean’s most feared predators. All through the Samsung Gear VR, of course.
The experience was so realistic in fact that many of the participants tried to swim up and away from the predator…