Virtual Reality Could Help Advertisers Become Relevant Again

Author

Kavi Guppta, Contributor

March 19, 2015

It’s inevitable that advertising will play an important role in the future of virtual reality experiences (media and entertainment being the most obvious categories). Virtual reality might finally give advertisers a chance to tackle a relevance problem they’ve been fighting for a good 20 years.

Advertising is still the same static, one-dimensional experience that’s plagued consumer behaviors for over a century. The digital era has exposed advertising as a highly reactive industry—chasing consumer trends rather than creating them—that struggles to connect with the customer at the right time.

My hope is that virtual reality (or VR) technology will change that.

Here’s why I believe VR can make advertising relevant again:

Virtual reality will allow advertisers to immerse passive audiences into an active experience

Marketers try really hard to create experiences that will encourage audiences to participate with a product or service. It’s a challenge because brands are limited by technology (watching videos are passive); compete for attention (each brand has a rival company trying to push the same message); and encouraging trial is a difficult action to accomplish through digital screens (unless your product is software).

Virtual reality allows the customer to be planted into a completely isolated environment and detached from the real world. If you’re watching an action movie and the hero jumps into his Audi to make a dramatic getaway; the viewer will get to experience the lovingly made interior, and witness first-hand the vehicle’s ability to gently hug sharp corners.

The experience advertisers create through VR can be relevant to what the customer is doing immediately

Advertisers have a terrible habit of interrupting audiences with irrelevant marketing. Pre-rolls barge in on viewers who want to watch YouTube videos. Sponsored Facebook content can clog up news feeds and become a distraction. It’s all a static, one-way transaction (which I mentioned earlier) that’s slowly being tuned out by audiences online.

Now let’s say a customer was participating in a cooking tutorial through VR technology. The simulated environment allows the student to pick up utensils, feel the stickiness of dough that might not be quite right, and adjust the recipe accordingly. The dough is ready to be baked, which is the perfect window for an appliance brand to showcase its new oven technology. The student has a relevant opportunity to try out the product, and continue to experience the tutorial he or she had signed up for.

No interruption. No pre-roll. No anything. OK, now what if the brand owned the entire experience?

In the world of VR, sponsored content could turn into sponsored realities

Samsung just “live streamed” child birth through virtual reality, but imagine if people had the chance to practice being parents with a simulation before giving birth? Imagine if a diaper brand was the major sponsor behind that entire experience? I’m talking about a completely different approach to community center Lamaze classes, all those drab textbooks on how to raise the perfect kid, and a life-like trial of what the future as a parent will entail.

For the diaper brand it’s a chance to guide customers through one of the most challenging experiences they’ll ever encounter.Parents to-be could hold simulated children, discipline them, change their diapers (because it is sponsored reality after all), and even face crisis scenarios that better prepare them for the uncertainty that comes with raising a child. It could change the way society prepares people for parenthood, and the diaper brand will be your support system every single time.

It might seem rather premature to discuss what ads can look like in VR, but I guarantee that it will be beneficial to disperse these ideas now so marketers can start thinking about a different way to improve their craft.

Let’s get a head start so the industry doesn’t try to “figure itself out” halfway into the next decade and completely lose a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to be relevant again.

This article was written by Kavi Guppta from Forbes and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.

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