Written by Beatriz McDonald
Remember Pokémon Go? The game that became a social phenomenon everybody downloaded and you saw teenagers and even adults playing, walking, and gathering in parks and public areas?
Do you know why this game became so popular? Partly it’s because for many Millennials, it was a nostalgic trip down memory lane, but also because they were experiencing the game through augmented reality.
The two frequently come up in the same conversations. Augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) are related, but they do differ. AR is the integration of digital information with the user’s environment in real time. Unlike VR, which requires users to inhabit an entirely visual environment, AR uses an existing environment and overlays new information on top of it.
Virtual reality transposes consumers into another place. In other words, once users put on goggles or closed visors, VR blocks out the current room they’re in and they’re taken to a different place or reality.
AR and VR are becoming more mainstream and they’re leading marketers to incorporate this type of technology into their brand strategy. Consumers are also getting used to this new form of experience. It transforms, connects, stimulates the senses, and enables them to experience a different form of reality.
According to an Ericsson ConsumerLab report, seven out of 10 consumers believe that virtual reality and augmented reality will become mainstream in media, education, work, social interaction, tourism, and retail.
So, what’s the real difference between the two? Think about this: when you experience VR, imagine attending a soccer match or rocking out to a sold-out concert or even the unthinkable — swimming in the ocean with sharks. One of the best ways to experience VR is through a headset but many of them are elaborate and expensive. There are other affordable ways to watch VR like with the Google Cardboard.
With AR, think of Pokémon Go or imagine yourself in your living room, opening an app on your mobile phone, and choosing a brand-new couch without going through the trouble of measuring your living room space or figuring out what kind of couch goes well with your decor. I’m talking about the new Ikea Place app — it’s genius! Augmented reality lets consumers experience interacting with products before they buy them.
Facebook’s 360-videos have been around for a couple of years. These are real-world scene videos where the users can see in every direction for an out-of-this-world experience. Watching a soccer match through a 360-degree video on your phone immediately makes you feel like you’re right in the stadium.
In order for brands to start jumping into VR and AR, they must have a purpose, budget, target, and have the right story to tell. We’re definitely seeing an increase in both VR and AR as it’s a wonderful opportunity for consumers to interact with a new form of brand experience.
Do you remember when Snap, Inc. introduced the 3D hot dog? Yes, the dancing hot dog that went viral all over social media. Some months later, the company introduced the 3D user avatars through Bitmoji. Recently, Snap also opened up its 3D World Lenses to advertisers and the two brands that have run ad campaigns so far are Bud Light and Warner Bros.
If more brands want to start running 3D World Lens campaigns, it’s only available through Snapchat’s direct sales team. So you see, this is a great opportunity to bring users into a whole new brand experience and real-world interaction.
According to Adweek, 53% of consumers say they’re more likely to purchase from a brand that uses virtual reality than from one that doesn’t.
There are many possibilities for using virtual and augmented realities. At this time, there are no set rules for VR and AR, and it’s up to marketers to change that. We’re living through exciting changes in technology, and we’re super excited about adopting new ways of marketing.
Businesses need to utilize these new technologies and ensure they’re providing new brand experiences for their customers. Whether that’s for training, marketing, product design, construction, interior design, or gaming, VR and AR are the new business reality and the future of brand experience.