Marketers are always experimenting with newer technologies and ways of engaging their consumers. CMOs can enhance marketing strategies by using virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) experiences to create more customer engagement and brand awareness. Content marketers who create content for VR and AR experiences need to understand the differences between VR and AR, and then learn how to create content that is meant to be delivered through VR and AR interfaces, as well as the most powerful applications of the technology where these content marketing efforts are highly effective.
Virtual reality can be enjoyed as a completely immersive experience, which is commonly achieved by wearing a headset and using special equipment that provides a visual, auditory, and sometimes, a tactile experience. An example of this is the virtual reality deployment utilizing headsets at the new aquarium experience in Dubai
Other holographic systems are able to create stunningly realistic-looking 3D images, under regular lighting conditions without the need to spray water vapour or theatrical smoke into the air to make the laser projections visible or use any projection screens.
For marketing executives and brand managers, there are excellent opportunities to create VR experiences that attract consumer attention. There are also opportunities for product placements in VR experiences such as in video games and sponsorship of these VR presentations offered at large public venues for the crowds to enjoy.
Augmented reality differs from virtual reality in that user inputs are used and then mixed with pieces added by the technology to create an experience that is partly the user’s own reality, such as an office space, home, or a neighbourhood, and partly created by the software application.
Augmented reality systems allow consumers to have a “try before you buy” experience and really get to see what something is going to look like by using AR to place it virtually in a personal space.
This is an extremely useful technique for marketing interior designs, furniture, artwork, office equipment and floor layouts, custom homes, interior and exterior paint jobs, and anything that makes use of a physical space, which needs other things put in it, to complete it.
When the physical space already exists, the consumer takes photos with a smartphone from various angles, such as within a room and takes the room measurements. This data is uploaded to the AR software. After that, the AR system adds different items to a 3D version of the room that is created by the software from the photographs.
Want to see how a couch fits in a living room or how a piece of artwork looks on a wall? An AR experience allows a person to do this.
Iazzu Project Example
shows artwork that the gallery sells and what it would look like on the walls of your home or office. The gallery is getting tremendous amounts of user-submitted examples of using the app to virtually place artwork in their homes or offices. The artwork shown in the photos on their website from the AR app looks as if it is already placed there.
Even a fairly simple thing, like choosing a three-colour combination of exterior paint choices as a theme for your house, is made easier. The consumer takes photos of the home’s exterior and then the software shows the possible colour choices for the exterior walls, trim, and the front door. Color combinations are suggested for viewing to help the consumer make a good choice.
These AR experiences create significant customer engagement. Consumer interest in working with AR is extremely positive.
Content Marketing for VR and AR Experiences
Both VR and AR have a need for creative content. Besides the images, there is frequently the need for a narration to help guide the viewer through the presentation. Moreover, many of these experiences are interactive and the content needs to be created in bite-sized pieces that can be called upon by the software as needed when the viewer makes an interactive selection.
For example, a viewer choosing paint colours may have a question about warranty and want to access that information easily while thinking about the colours. Other examples are resorts using the technology to provide guests with a virtual walk-through experience as a guide to the resort. Golf clubs are using such experiences as training tools along with in-person practice with golf pros. The possibilities for using this technology are endless.
Content created for VR and AR is usually based on a storyboard model with interactive pieces available for selection that make the user-driven experience more satisfying. With just a little imagination, any organization should be able to see how and where to apply VR and AR technology to improve their content marketing strategy in beneficial ways.
Statistica says that VR and AR technology will have a projected economic impact by 2020 of US$15.6 billion annually. The technology is rapidly improving. Over the next few years, AR and VR experiences will be found in many more places. Consumer, business-to-business, and educational/training experiences are all being enhanced with VR and AR technology. There is an explosion of growth in the marketing uses for this technology.