Do you remember when 3D TV was going to be the next big thing? We were all going to wear 3D glasses at home and experience extra-dimensional imagery. The problem was we didn’t like wearing the glasses and the experience wasn’t worth the extra money.
Now virtual reality, or VR, is the hot trending topic and many will jump into it just because it is new. But what are the implications for marketers? McDonalds recently explored VR with Happy Meal boxes that converted to VR viewers using a smart phone. According to Advertising Age, VR is expected to be a more than $1 billion business in 2016.
VR has the potential to be a totally immersive experience. It has so much more depth than a regular video and it has the ability to shut out all competing noise. It certainly works best for games, but imagine how marketing in the travel industry will change, or selling a home (you can walk to through an entire home and even look into cabinets from the comfort of your couch). Imagine test driving a car without ever visiting the dealership.
Some people believe that 360-degree video is the same as VR. However, VR is totally immersive, allowing people to interact with the created surroundings through a head-mounted display. 360 video can be viewed through a display, but mostly it is viewed through Facebook and YouTube without a headset. 360 is impressive, but not as immersive as virtual reality.
Virtual reality is coming. Just know that your great big story idea needs to be developed first, then determine if it fits the VR medium. VR is so immersive, it makes some people seasick, but if the storytelling is off, it will make your marketing budget even sicker.