VR: The Latest Technology Under The Sun…

VR: The Latest Technology Under The Sun…
By Mary Beth McCabe

Is 2016 the year for VR? Will it have staying power? Will it be a trend or a fad? Some say that Virtual Reality is ready for the mobile marketing of brands. Companies are tapping into the $7 billion VR sales market, where the prediction (Trendforce, 2016) expects a $70 billion market for devices alone by 2020. Companies have created immersive video advertising with games and entertainment in a 360 degree space, your head.


Origins of VR come from the US Military

The origins of VR were in US military, universities and Silicon Valley in 1989, prior to the web. The smartphone has changed how VR has been adopted, due to gyroscopes and motion sensors that can track head, hand and body positions. In 2014, Oculus Rift was bought by Facebook for $2 billion, betting that VR will be a significant development of entertainment in the future.

In a recent article by Wired Magazine[i] we know more about the companies that are invested in the technology as they are all hiring engineers. The biggest names include Facebook, Google, Apple, Amazon, Sony, Samsung, Microsoft and then there are hundreds of lesser known firms working on the hardware and content for the platform. Then there’s Magic Leap, a Mixed Reality (MR), Florida-based company who has already raised $1.4 billion from investors. Some of the names of other firms in the virtual space include Meta, Void, Atheer, Lytro and 8i.

What is the current landscape?

At this time, there are three main VR devices in the high end entertainment, HTC Vive, Oculus and Sony PlaystationVR, and all sell for between $500-800 plus the cost of the PC or game device. Of course, Samsung GearVR sells for between free ($0) with purchase of the Samsung phone to $100, MergeVR charges $40 and then there’s cardboard, with about five million of these cardboard (think of a very thick piece of paper designed for you to slide your phone and view) now available. See the cardboard at the top of this page. Some firms like Tom’s Shoes are using the cardboard VR for promotional materials already.

Talk in VR is happy these days. What is consistent is “The VR smile” coming from those who just tested out the product. People like using VR, because it’s the new shiny object.

At SXSW, McDonald’s created a “box” that was to represent the inside of the Happy Meal container, i.e., a work of art that you can customize. It became performance art. (#mcdigital) Additional interest was in filming people using virtual reality to create, for example, freelance virtual reality painting.

What companies are using VR?

Businesses are creating customized experiences for advertisers and non-profits to promote their business via VR. Early users include: Mini Cooper, Boursin cheese (France) and Charity:Water, a non-profit organization who is using this for awareness and fund raising. Is your company ready to be pitched for this new media?

Targeted ads demand great content, can deliver complete experiences, are scalable and targetable. They can be used for specific advertising flight dates, in immersive brand worlds with content that can be re-purposed, appealing to first-mover status seekers. You will have multiple choices for your advertising, including at least three advertiser choices: Sponsored ads, Experience ads and 360 ads.

In an Experience Ad a user would be watching “themselves” as they are doing something in VR. As they complete a task, the game pauses and a compelling relevant ad would be served as the next game loads up.

Picture yourself with a device that completely covers your eyes and ears, so you are immersed in the experience of being entertained, such as in a gaming environment. You complete the game, you level up to the next phase and between games, you see an ad for a product/service that has been selected based on the segmenting already done to target you.

VirtualSKY uses the tagline “targeting and delivery at scale,” and with one ad campaign, all platforms can use the same creative elements, they say. So that’s what virtual reality advertising is about, targeting you while you’re in the VR environment. Is your company considering this? Leave a comment here if you have additional insights.

What do you predict for the future of VR and MR via mobile devices?

[i] http://www.wired.com/2016/04/magic-leap-vr/?mbid=nl_41916  accessed April 25, 2016

Mary Beth McCabe is a lead faculty member with the School of Business and Management at National University.