Immersive Reality: Why to Invest in it Now
Described as the ‘most disruptive development in technology’, (IR) is proving to be more than just a fad. Not only is this diverse and innovative technology here to stay, it is predicted to become a booming billion pound industry. But IR is not just for the intense gamer or the tech-enthusiast. Brands are beginning to integrate IR into their value proposition, customer experience and even their marketing communications. So why should your brand invest in IR now?
What are the types of IR?
There are three main types of immersive reality; Augmented Reality (AR), Virtual Reality (VR) and Mixed Reality (MR).
In technical terms, VR is a computer-generated simulation of a 3D image or environment that you interact with using a specialist VR headset. Virtual reality could be the thing we’ve all been waiting for – the ability to be immersed in a completely different environment distinct from our actual reality. Since the first prototype creation of the Oculus Rift in 2010, VR has become a hot topic for discussion in the tech industry. From new headsets such as the HTC Vive to Varjo’s human eye-resolution headset, this technology is constantly evolving.
AR adds digital elements to a live view, often used through smartphone cameras. Examples of AR experiences include the well known Snapchat lenses and the popular game Pokemon Go. Rather than replacing the real world with a simulated alternative, like VR, AR enhances the current space around the user and adjusts it for a deeper, 3D illusion. From small scale imagery, such as simple colour-changing signs or icons within a room, to an animated concert on top of your Haagen Daz ice cream tub, AR is rapidly evolving to serve more diverse purposes in tech.
MR experiences are where a user can see the real world (like AR), while also seeing believable, virtual objects (like VR). These virtual objects can then be anchored to a point in real space, thus simulating a ‘real’ perspective. This E3 Minecraft demo perfectly showcases MR and how it varies from AR and VR.
Why should brands use IR (Immersive Reality)?
1. £, £, and more £
With an estimated 171 million VR users globally, now is the time to invest. While consumer spending is increasing, so is the market value, predicted to grow by 390 per cent in the next four years. To quote Mark Zuckerberg, “The future is coming, and we have to change and build it together… this kind of immersive AR will become a part of daily life for billions of people”. With the introduction of cheaper headsets and mobile integration, VR and AR are becoming more affordable for consumers to experience. Sparking an interest among modern consumers, an investment in IR not only creates a unique customer experience but enhances loyalty and engagement. Additionally, these IR experiences can be recorded and used in marketing material, called ‘embedded experiences’. Through these, brands can stand out among competitors and leverage their investment in IR.
2. It’s different and intriguing
From the first historic panoramic paintings to modern day VR headsets, immersive reality has always been present but has drastically evolved over time. It is a way to enhance the senses, creating an alternative, or layered reality. This new form of marketing approach for developing immersive consumer experiences has already been utilised by brands to demonstrate their sophisticated technologies and capabilities. The effectiveness of IR is demonstrated in the joint YuMe/Nielsen study, which found consumers engage for 34 per cent longer and have a 27 per cent higher emotional reaction to IR than 2D videos.
3. Rich Data
We record, analyse, breakdown and strategize over consumer data constantly. IR creates a wealth of rich data. No longer are we limited to measuring demographics and engagement, but instead, we can now monitor how consumers act, react and interact during an IR experience with a brand, service, product or simulated situation. This type of data can then be used to build audiences and create a more valuable experience for them.
4. Saves £ and time
One of the main uses for VR is prototyping. Everything can be simulated and tested, meaning initial ideas can be explored. The implication is that it creates a physical presence through the use of headsets. VR is no longer limited to just sight and sound, but can now include all five senses, introducing touch and smell and in the future, taste. Applying this, Marriott created a VR teleporter experience that enabled newly-weds to see, feel and even smell honeymoon destinations, all without the flights and expense! Likewise, Thomas Cook’s five-minute holiday experience increased New York excursion bookings by 190 per cent. It’s hard to argue with those figures!
5. Can be used in a variety of industries.
From Ikea to Zara, Mcdonalds to Mercedes, brands are introducing VR and AR into their marketing strategies. While the dominant use of VR is still within the gaming industry, there is a wide range of markets that this technology can benefit, such as property, retail, events, education, healthcare and many more! But IR isn’t just for big brands within these industries. IR through mobile devices is drastically cheaper to create, making it more affordable for smaller businesses. 90 per cent of headsets sold worldwide are mobile phone based, demonstrating the massive potential smaller brands have to tap into this market.
While IR might not be the top priority for marketing teams, we believe that utilizing these technologies now can benefit both companies and consumers alike. Overall, IR is an exciting technology that is becoming both affordable and beneficial to brands in a variety of industries.