A major shift in how brands engage with consumers is afoot. It’s partly due to consumers becoming blind to the endless, daily barrage of advertisements thrown at them as brands continue their perennial quest to break through the clutter. But it’s also being fueled by technology. From IoT, AI, VR, AR, 360°, MR, wearables etc., if you’re a marketer, these represent a wealth of new opportunities to better connect with audiences. Why? Because these technologies enable you to immerse consumers in your brand and they also present brands with opportunities to become integrated into consumer lifestyles. Yes there may actually come a day, and very soon, where advertising and branded content become welcomed visitors in the content consumption landscape as opposed to unwelcomed intruders.
Make no doubt about it, we are entering the dawn of immersive advertising and some of the first technologies to enter the ring are 360 degree, virtual reality (VR), and augmented reality (AR). We can already see evidence of this. From the hundreds of brands that have already started using 360° content and VR for marketing and promotion, to virtual car showrooms that are appearing in malls and AR shopping apps from big retailers like Target, the age of immersive advertising is here. Yet, despite all this, we are still seeing much confusion in the market. Even as recently as this week, a very reputable news organization covered the Target AR shopping experience as a VR shopping experience.
As such, we thought it might be helpful to clear the air a bit and touch on the basics of 360, VR and AR for those who are still trying to figure out what all this technology is and how it differs. Afterall, if you live in the advertising and marketing worlds, it’s critical to stay on top of all this new technology as it heads your way. So whether you’re under the false impression that there’s still no reach for 360 & VR advertising and marketing or you’re wondering what’s 360 content, what’s VR and how is AR different, read on. By the time you’re done, hopefully you’ll be as pumped as we are for the all the potential that lies ahead with the dawn of immersive advertising and ready to learn more.
If you fall into the camp where you know what VR, AR and 360 degree content are and you want to know how to take your digital advertising to the next level and enter the rewarding new world of immersive advertising, give us a call and contact us today!
360, VR, AR Content Basics
Virtual reality content is viewed through a head mounted display (HMD), also known as a virtual reality headset. There are Mobile VR HMDs (i.e., Samsung Gear, Google Daydream) that are powered by specific smartphones. Then there are more immersive HMDs (Oculus Rift, HTC Vive, Sony PlaystationVR) that deliver the most immersive experiences but require a very powerful computer.
In either situation, the user wears a headset that completely covers their eyes blocking out all their surroundings. Wherever they turn their head they are completely surrounded by a virtual scene that can be created graphically or by capturing real world situations using 360 degree video or images. Regardless, the user can have a truly visceral experience as they get completely lost in a virtual world and feel like they’re actually there.
In the case of the VR showroom mentioned previously, when a consumer is using this VR experience, what they see around them seems like an actual car showroom with no trace of the real world that they are in. They feel as if they’re actually in the showroom and can take virtual test drives all without ever dealing with a real car salesperson.
Augmented reality is slightly different than VR in that you aren’t completely immersed. It can be experienced using a headset (think Microsoft Hololens, ODG, or Meta) or mobile device (think PokemonGo, SnapChat filters, Apple ARkit or Target’s new AR shopping tool). Unlike a VR HMD, an AR headset doesn’t block out the user’s surroundings and resembles eyewear more than anything (think the ill fated, before its time Google Glass). An AR headset layers things over your real world so everywhere you turn you see everything around you but your view is enhanced. Some also call this MR (mixed reality). If you’re looking at using an AR or MR headset to reach consumers, think again, right now it’s mostly used by businesses and the like for training.
In the case of Apple’s ARKit, SnapChat, PokemonGo and Target, no headset is required. And instead of your real world surroundings being enhanced, you use your phone as a portal to view your world augmented. Target leverages this technology by allowing users to see “live” digital renderings of furniture that they are thinking of buying and allowing them to see what the furniture would look like in their home. So if you have a picture of your living room and use the Target app, it will show you how a piece of furniture will look in this room, but you’re seeing the image on your phone. Look away from your phone and your world is how it is.
As for 360 degree content, odds are if you’ve been on Facebook or YouTube recently you’ve seen some 360 videos or images. This kind of content can be created by using special 360 degree cameras and video cameras to capture photo-real scenes and can also created using CGI (computer generated imagery). While this content can be experienced in a lower end VR HMD (i.e. Google Cardboard, MergeVR, ZeissOne etc) it’s not necessary. In fact anyone with a smartphone, tablet or computer can enjoy 360 content today. To view the entire scene of a piece of 360 degree content all you have to do is move your device or use your finger or mouse to drag the image around. Try for yourself in the demo below. And if you happen to have a Google Cardboard, just touch the cardboard icon in the lower right hand corner, the screen splits in 2 and just drop your phone in the headset and you’re in virtual reality. It’s the best of both worlds!
Does Immersive Advertising Have Reach?
As you can probably suspect, reach for advertising within VR HMDs is not there yet. Yes you do have brands that are already experimenting but if you’re looking to reach lots and lots of eyeballs this won’t be your best play. As for AR, it’s just starting to emerge and you can expect to see many more developments in this space (including announcements from Advrtas) when it comes to leveraging it for advertising and marketing.
If you’re looking to start using immersive advertising to reach large audiences today, a great first step is leveraging 360 degree content. 360VR ads present brands and creatives with an entierly new, enlarged ad canvas wherein they can create an endless rabbit hole of interactivity enabling consumers to be immersed in branded experiences. 360 VR ads are also more readily available. First, because the tools to capture the content is have become very affordable and there are hundreds of professionals spanning the globe that can capture this content for you. Second, the tools used to create and edit your 360 VR content are some of the same tools that design teams are probably already using (like Photoshop, Illustrator, etc.). Third, Advrtas’ Panamorphic Creative Management Platform (CMP) simplifies the steps to create a 360 VR ad unit even more! You can also use existing 2D assets, place them inside a 360 sphere and still create an interactive and engaging 360 VR ad. Plus, Advrtas 360VR ads can be distributed programmatically across the globe using existing, trusted supply chains.
Truly the dawn of immersive advertising is upon us and those who jump in now have the opportunity to reap the greatest rewards. Immersive technologies are going to change the game of marketing and advertising but the key is that you need to start now (it’s that first mover advantage thing). If you don’t take that step now, you might be left behind.
Want to know more about 360VR ads and how you can start using 360 degree content for advertising? Here are some great resources: