Julia Manoukian

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February 27, 2018

What All Event Marketers Should Know About VR And Other Immersive Tech

Julia Manoukian

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Experiential is becoming a virtual reality for brands who crave innovative, immersive customer experiences. This type of marketing already reaches customers who longer respond to traditional ads, and now virtual reality (VR) is elevating consumer engagement to the next level. Limelight recently sat down with a group of experts who outlined the impact of VR on experiential -- and whether you should invest in virtual and augmented reality for digital activations.

The Current State of VR in Experiential Marketing

As a marketer, you can't ignore VR. Experts predict the VR global software and hardware market will soon be worth $40.4 billion, and there will be 82 million VR headsets worldwide by the year 2020.

But how does this technology affect experiential? "VR is in a little bit of a precarious position right now," says Tyler Calder, CMO of Yulio Technologies and digital marketing professor at the University of Toronto. "Everyone has a vision of what it could be, But, then, we start to realize that we're not quite there yet."

He notes that there's a "barrier to entry" to VR, where brands struggle to create content and build hardware -- a cumbersome process. "We start to get a little bit disillusioned with VR."

Calder dispells three myths that surround VR:

  • The first one is that the technology is too expensive: "It's still not cheap, but it's come down considerably," he points out.
  • Next, the belief that VR is only for gaming is just not true -- Calder says brands use for customer service and sales. "We're seeing car manufacturers trying to extend the brand experience from the dealer to the home using VR."
  • Finally, there's a notion that VR is socially isolating. Not true, either. Pokemon Go encouraged people to go outside "in massive groups," notes Calder.

People often confuse 'entertainment VR' -- augmented reality apps like Ingress and Zombies, Run! -- with 'business VR.' The latter, Calder says, enhances product experiences, improves data capture and streamlines analytics.

The Best VR and Immersive Technologies for Experiential Marketers

When it comes to VR, the sky's the limit. Victor Lander, creative director at Contend Immersive showcased technologies that are changing the way brands engage with customers. These include projection mapping -- displaying content on something that's not a regular screen, such as the side of a building -- and holograms. "It's digital content that seems to fly in mid-air, like Star Wars!" he says. You, too, could incorporate these technologies into your future experiential campaigns.

How to Integrate VR into Your Marketing Campaigns

So how do you integrate these new technologies into your existing marketing efforts? "We should be able to identify points in the customer journey where VR, or any technology, can be added to that experience," says Calder. "When there's something new, a lot of us marketers fall into the trap of forcing it into the customer journey, but that detracts from the experience."

Calder cites car brand Audi, who created a virtual test drive experience, as a good example of a company incorporating VR into their marketing.

"One of the things we've been doing is blending different technologies," says Amy Blackman, vice president of experiential content agency Contend Immersive. "We will prescribe a variety of technologies to address [a client's] business challenge."

Here's an example: Contend Immersive and Alaska Airlines built an interactive trampoline at an airport, where passengers could sign up for an Alaska credit card and double their points by jumping up and down on the device. "We wouldn't have just done an LED screen or a VR headset. We are doing a bunch of immersive technologies to make this a 'wow' moment."

This Limelight webinar highlighted some of the benefits of experiential VR campaigns -- they utilize the latest technology, change the way customers engage with brands and create 'wow' moments. As VR grows, expect more experiential marketers to include this technology in their campaigns.

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