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How to fit Virtual & Augmented Reality into your 2017 Marketing Budget

Now is the time when marketing teams from every industry, everywhere in the world are setting their 2017 budgets and deciding where they are going to get the best bang for their buck.  If you are like most who went to CES or read anything about it, you will know that Virtual and Augmented Reality (VR/AR) is going to be HUUUGE (spoken like Trump).  The real truth is that 2016 saw the launch of many of the major VR headsets (GearVR, HTC Vive, Oculus Rift, Playstation VR) and also two new AR headsets (Microsoft Hololens, Meta2) but very few companies actually used this technology to market their products.  The ones who did found an added benefit of generating a ton of media impressions simply by being there first.  2017 promises a new wave of practical VR/AR applications for training, entertainment, brand engagement and sales, but before you jump in head first, I want to show you how to dip your toes into the VR/AR pool so that you can begin to see benefits and metrics before committing a larger portion of your budget.  

At MetaVRse, we saw the opportunity to become the trusted VR/AR Agency of Record for brands advising them on their long term strategy on how to use this new communication medium across their entire business, but before we could even start, we had to show people what VR was and why it was important which is why we have deliberately taken a shotgun ‘spray and pray’ approach to using this new medium.  We started by introducing VR at events (Art of Marketing, Royal Ontario Museum Friday Night Live, PwC Partners Conference) then we did a bunch of 360° videos (Groove Cruise, Pride Toronto, Queen’s Plate, Niagara Falls Tourism) and we have learned by teaching using our white paper “Virtual Reality for Marketing, 2016” and most recently we are producing custom VR and AR apps for clients to drive customer engagement that will be released later this year.  

The most common questions

We saw the opportunity of VR and AR for business early on, but like many, we did not know how best to capitalize on it.  Questions like “What is the ROI?”  “Who else is doing this?”  “Can you show me examples of this?”  have left us stumped and that is why I have decided to write this series of articles to help answer some of the questions that we found so difficult to answer and honestly still struggle with because this technology is still on the bleeding edge.  

“What is the ROI?”  – This is impossible to define right now for a number of reasons; 1. There is no critical mass of headset adoption yet so most experiences are leveraging traditional media to amplify their VR strategy.  2. The systems for gaining metrics for VR/AR have not yet been developed (potential opportunity).  3.  There has not been enough people using this to get a real understanding of the metrics.

“Who else is doing this?”  This one gets me a lot.  Brands want to do something completely novel and outside of the box, but want to know who else has done something similar.  The very fact they ask this, makes me question if they just want something new and shiny or they truly want to be a pioneer in their industry.  It takes a certain leap of faith to earmark part of your marketing budget to pioneer something new, but look at the first companies to harness the power of the internet or mobile, they ended up WAY ahead of their competition and VR/AR is no different.  

“Can you show me examples of this?”  While we now have a list of case studies of our own and there are a few other business examples from other companies, the truth is that brands who are jumping on this are creating novel communications that will reward them in many ways; 1. Being seen as a leader in their industry, 2. Getting additional traditional media coverage, 3. Gaining experience to harness this technology so when VR/AR becomes mainstream they have a distinct advantage, 4. Winning awards together (my personal goal is to win a Cannes Lion Award) VR and AR are new, but already there are award categories for it.

I have compiled a list of projects you can start right away that won’t break the bank and will get you the experience that you are going to need to ask for bigger budgets moving forward.  If you get stuck or want some help, I am available, feel free to email me; alan@metavrse.com

Here are some options for getting into VR and AR in 2017 (lowest to highest)

 

Branded Google Cardboard

Branded Google Cardboard

One of the tools you are going to need in-house is a high quality, mobile VR headset.  This will give you a great resource when asking your CEO for more budget towards VR. Check out: GearVR or Google Daydream View VR Headsets ($1200 and up, including phone)

The question for you as a marketer in 2017 is will you be seen as a leader or a follower?  OK that is a little harsh and presumptive, but in all seriousness, VR and AR are coming and they are going to be as disruptive as the mobile phone so if you want to get ahead of the curve, I suggest you find some room in your 2017 budget to at least dip your toes in the water.  For more information, case studies and pricing, please reach out to me directly, alan@metavrse.com