Virtual Reality Show 2017
VR has broadened its horizons beyond gaming and into other industries.
Advertising is one of those experimenting with it. While it’s too early to think about any significant impact, there are ways brands are playing around with VR. Take Volvo’s XC90 test drive experience, or McDonald’s Happy Meal box transformed into Happy Goggles.
Naturally, we’re curious where the technology is going to take the industry (or perhaps the other way around) and so we headed to the neighbouring Business Design Centre to listen to a few speakers at the show’s Retail & Marketing Conference. Here are some of their thoughts.
- Mark Miles (Rendermedia) suggested a few avenues through which advertisers can start to look into VR. Firstly, he argued brands need to rethink their assets for use in VR that avoids gimmicks. Next, compared to traditional media, VR offers a much bigger sales room. Yet again advertisers can think about how to use their assets in this expanded environment to their advantage. And lastly, VR offers a different way of communicating the narrative. Traditionally stories are told in linear way (you know where the story is going), while VR allows for a non-linear narrative where the user can play a part in how the story is told.
- Tim Fleming (Future Visual) talked about VR as a potential helping hand to retail. It is obvious that retail is having a hard time in its traditional iteration. Tim suggests that it should reorientate itself to creating fun. His project with John Lewis and Innovate UK created an instore experience where users had a chance to put on the headset and explore their future homes or changes to their current homes in virtual reality. Users commented on the enjoyment and the actual benefits of this experience. Tim argued that 2016 was year 1 for VR, similar to what 2007 was to iPhone, so the outcome is hard to predict, but we should expect big things.
- Sam Huber (Advir) called for an immersive revolution. As a young newcomer in advertising world VR could potentially suffer from poor use. VR is more immersive medium than the current advertising channels, and therefore there is a risk for ads in virtual space of becoming too intrusive. To maximise the potential and not inflict self-harm VR industry should sign up to ethical commandments, Sam argues. A few are set out on https://www.vrarpledge.org, for example – “You shall deliver value” – meaning the placements should enhance the experience to entertain, educate or amaze.
- Lastly we heard Christopher Mallet (Somewhere Else) discussing his topic – How to Survive in the Age of Experience. He reminded us that this is the age when we seek instant gratification and experience more than material things or ownership. The question then arises – do people care about brands anymore? And if they don’t, can brands turn to VR to help deliver these experiences (and the added sociability) to the customers. Christopher then talked us through examples of experiences unique to virtual reality: exposure therapy – helping to face your fears in the controlled environment; empathy machine – it is easier to empathise with others by going through the same experience; self-compassion – you can meet the future you; and superhuman experience – instead of a simulated experience (let’s say flying a helicopter) you can instead become s flying Superman.
While the conversations were longer and gave us lots to think about, here are the key points that can help to think about advertising in the virtual space:
- Avoid gimmicks
- Imagine what you can achieve with the bigger sales floor VR provides
- Follow some ethical commandments to avoid becoming too intrusive
- Use VR to create experiences that deliver fun and/or value – that’s what consumers are seeking right now
In the next post we’ll be exploring some of these suggestions in more detail.
[Posted by Julia Mironova]