Are you not entertained by Virtual Reality?
Photo from REUTERS/Albert Gea
In just a few months, such an exciting concept has become so mundane.
Ever since SXSW, the Marketing and Tech world is constantly talking about Virtual Reality, deemed the next big thing in branded content. It’s disappointing that this revolutionary media experience has become the next buzzword. Suddenly, the door opened for clumsy marketing departments to flood the field with branded content VR, even though they haven’t taken the time to understand the heart of what’s so great about this new technology.
Marketers: let’s make a pact right now. Keep virtual reality exciting.
If you’re considering creating a VR experience for your customers, don’t just take your video marketing plan and give it the new title “360 Video Marketing Plan.” Approach VR from a fresh perspective. You just have to keep a few things in mind.
Virtual Reality is an Investment. Make it count.
Even though everyone’s talking about VR right now, we have to keep things in perspective. It’s just starting to catch on.
While there are cheaper options such as Google Cardboard, which runs at $15 per headset, these economical platforms limit user interaction. Google Cardboard is primarily used for viewing 360-degree videos, and it doesn’t integrate well with the controllers that make a VR experience more engaging, according to The Verge. Advanced and intermediate headsets range anywhere from $175-$700, making VR a serious investment for the average consumer.
Here’s another consideration. Even though Google Cardboard is the most accessible headset when considering costs, Google reports they only have shipped 5 million cardboards worldwide after the product was on the market for year and a half. And how many people are just letting them gather dust on their shelves? If you’re thinking of putting out a branded content app or a game for download, consider if your target market is even on the VR train.
If you’re going to do VR as a marketer right now, review your top marketing events. That huge conference you go to every year? Your big holiday push? Make some hero content and bring a top-of-the-line headset on location to showcase that VR investment. It’s what JC Penney did– and it brought people to their stores. Until the technology catches up, it’s not worth it to go small.
People do what they want.
The last time you were shopping for your latest do-it-yourself assembly nightmare, did you notice how there’s only one way to walk through an Ikea store? That’s because the Swedish brand knows how to direct the customer journey. Except, apparently, when it comes to VR.
Ikea created a VR app that allowed purchasers explore and customize three different Ikea kitchens, making the VR experience the next evolution in product demonstration videos. Did customers spend hours, painstakingly choosing the colors of their imaginary cabinets, pretending they were the next Joanna Gaines? No way.
They threw meatballs at the wall instead.
As an easter egg, Ikea included their famous swedish meatballs in the kitchens, and players had more fun throwing them around than trying out the countertops. It goes to show you that when you give your viewers a chance explore their own environment, they’re going to do whatever they want. If you’re creating VR, the brand stories you crafted might be totally ignored.
Embrace that. Ikea did, updating their app to include a meatball cooking experience. Users responded in Steam store reviews, giving it a very positive rating. Even if the update moves away from the typical product demonstration story, Ikea is effectively using VR to build their fanbase, taking steps to create loyal customers.
Keep it Fun.
Right now, if you’re going to invest in Virtual Reality, you can’t give your users something boring. Remember this: VR is fun! That’s the reason Ikea added more meatballs. Users are expecting an imaginative experience that puts them at the center of a whole new world. Why would you decide to mask one of VR’s most impactful qualities with a lackluster tour of your company’s office?
Virtual Reality is up close and personal. It’s technology that creates an experience. The two best-selling apps on the Google Play App Store are a game and VR Movie distributer. The key here is entertainment. Step away from the temptation to push your products and find an angle that is fun before anything else.
Don’t put your customers through something that makes them regret putting on those goggles.
Leah Eder is the Green Buzz Agency Marketing Coordinator. She tracks the latest trends in Virtual Reality and Video Marketing. She could live in Ikea.