Why immersive media is the future of marketing

Virtual reality is often touted as the technology of tomorrow. Yet the truth is, immersive media is already being used every day.

Research done by Superdata shows that mobile augmented reality now reaches over one billion users worldwide, thanks to smartphones.

Marketers simply cannot afford to ignore this technology. Immersive media will soon be part of most marketing strategies and it will become a powerful tool to tell your brand’s story.

What is immersive media?

Immersive media – also referred to as ‘extended reality’ – is an umbrella term for VR, AR, mixed reality and 360-degree video; where the physical world is emulated through a digital simulated world. These types of media may slightly differ, but they are not necessarily mutually exclusive.

“For me, it’s a threshold setting – you can choose to be as immersed as you want to be,” says Amit Chatterjee, partner and co-founder of Shadow Factory – a leading developer of digital content and solutions in Hong Kong, Toronto, and Los Angeles that produces fully immersive and interactive experiences.

Immersive media is the future, says Chatterjee

 

“A lot of people position it as VR versus AR, but I don’t think that’s the proper framing of the subject. I often describe it as a radio dial. As you turn the dial you increase the threshold. 360-degree video, AR, MR, then VR.”

Limitless storytelling opportunities

One of the greatest benefits of using immersive media is the lack of limitations. You are able to transport audiences to any time or place, creating an emotive experience that will get your message across.

For example, Shadow Factory created a unique VR experience for the ‘Masters Of Time’ showcase by DFS – for luxury watches made in Switzerland. The brand wanted consumers to feel a connection to where the watches come from, which was challenging considering the store opening event took place in hot and muggy Macau during the summer.

The VR experience allowed consumers to snow surf through Swiss mountains, manipulating a branded sailboard in the physical world to dodge trees and deer in the virtual world before finally ending up at a ‘Masters of Time’ lodge surrounded by northern lights.

DFS was able to create an instant but lasting brand connection with people who tried the snow surfing experience by immersing them in ‘Masters of Time’ branding, in both the virtual and real life.

Higher engagement

Extended reality content bridges the gap between the in-person experience and the screen, allowing for a more meaningful and memorable connection between brand and consumer.

Marketers have to work diligently to find ways to leave meaningful brand impressions with consumers. This is why extended reality sets brands apart. Not only is higher engagement and higher recall achieved with this type of media, it also gets people talking about and sharing their immersive experience with others.

Capturing consumers’ attention

A 2014 study by OMD found that the average person shifts their attention between smartphone, tablet and laptop 21 times in an hour. It’s only getting more difficult for marketers to reach consumers, given our decreasing attention span.

However, with immersive experiences you have a captive audience. Users are choosing to give you their attention and can’t shift to other activities.

“The way VR works – people intend to wear the headset or use the display, and intend to use it for a period of time. So, you automatically have a the attention of the audience,” says Chatterjee.

“It’s not something that passively happens. It’s not something you have to sneak by them in an advertisement.”

High interest in immersive experiences

Another benefit is that, while VR headsets may not be a standard household item yet, there is a lot of buzz around immersive media. And consumers are interested in experiencing it for themselves.

Chatterjee states that the appetite for VR, MR, and AR is very high. Just by engaging in using this type of media, brands can get a boost on all their usual metrics: more traffic, more impressions, more conversion.

“The crowd looking for immersive content is so big and so excited about it that they’re going to hit your pages and your content,” explains Chatterjee.

Will extended reality replace older forms of media?

With headsets becoming affordable and more industries – from education to real estate to the military – employing this technology, it’s clear that VR will only grow as a medium and touch more areas of everyday life.

So does that mean we’re moving away from traditional advertising or content marketing?

“I don’t look at VR as phasing out other kinds of media,” Chatterjee says. “It’s an immersive medium that will provide its own value and create its own space. I usually say to people, it’s as transformative as when the first web browser hit the internet. It’s another layer through which we can interact with everything.”

How brands can get started with immersive storytelling

This technology really needs to be experienced to be understood. Several of Shadow Factory’s clients who were new to VR initially didn’t quite understand how this media could fit into their marketing strategies.

After trying a few VR demos for themselves, they understood the capabilities of immersive media; inspiring all kinds of creative ideas on how to better engage with their customers and communicate with them.

If you’re interested in utilising immersive technology as part of your brand’s or clients’ marketing strategies, start by trying it first-hand. Set up an appointment with a digital agency capable of producing 360-degree video, AR, MR, and VR solutions to explore the endless possibilities. With immersive media, the sky is no longer the limit.

It’s also important to understand that immersive media is part of a digital ecosystem and not something separate. That’s why Shadow Factory offers holistic solutions to tie brands’ VR and AR experiences into their overall digital strategy.

The time is now

Early adopters of this platform are enjoying a competitive edge, but it is only a matter of time until using VR, MR, and AR will no longer be a novelty.

It is essential for brands to understand this technology today rather than trying to play catch up later. After all, it’s likely that your competitors are already learning how to leverage this platform to reach consumers.

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