Coca-Cola, Samsung, Microsoft, Facebook and Google, among others, are all betting big on virtual reality (VR) as the next big medium. With more brands exploring VR in an effort to stay ahead of the campaign curve, we sat down with Theorem’s Director of Creative Services, Manuel Moreta, to see just how this pioneering new technology is poised to transform digital advertising.

Enriching the Consumer Experience

There’s something awe-inspiring, even childlike, when entering the augmented realm of VR. Unlike other forms of interactive media, virtual reality allows us to view our surroundings in ways that don’t just suspend our disbelief, but rather immerses us wholly in radical, new experiences. This in itself is a huge advantage over current technologies on the market that are far more limited in their transformative capabilities.

Following Pokemon Go’s global—and continuing— success, we’re seeing a greater number of companies turning to VR in a bid to maximize the impact of brand stories that not only resonates with consumers, but ultimately compels them to take action.  Additionally, VR lends the opportunity to stray from gaming and advertising initiatives in favor of more utilitarian purposes.

Take Toyota, for example: a brand using virtual reality to warn against the dangers of distracted driving, as demonstrated in their recent TeenDrive365 campaign. Another big name testing the waters is Samsung, using VR’s technological capabilities to help curb common phobias ranging from arachnophobia to fear of heights.

Hype…or Here to Stay?

Virtual reality is on a much quicker trajectory than we could have ever imagined, with a recent Deloitte Global report predicting VR to have its first billion dollar year by the end of 2016, with nearly  $700 million in hardware sales, alone. However, given VR’s infancy and current limitations of existing technology infrastructures, 2016 is more a year of experimentation as marketers and consumers continue to get a feel of this emerging medium.

Though still in the early stages of prototype, testing and development, VR capabilities are likely to improve in the near future as processors and screen resolutions undergo upgrades, and developers learn how to design, capture and code experiences that bring brands’ visions to life. Once the kinks of this new learning curve are worked through, researchers predict a whopping 36.9 million consumers will be proud owners of virtual reality handsets by the end of 2020. If accurate, these projections will prove to be a massive turning point for this emerging space.

In the meantime, Theorem DigitalPerspectives survey data finds that we’re at the earlier stages of including VR capabilities in advertising. While most in our US/UK survey report they’re not incorporating it yet, many are at the exploratory or experimentation phase. UK respondents were just a bit more optimistic on the use of VR but panelists on both sides of the Atlantic seem to be moving into pilot phase.

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Theorem Future Perspectives

  • While VR remains a relatively niche market, it’s nonetheless gaining traction as an investment opportunity with the potential to drive home some serious ROI.
  • Like early adopters of Instagram, Snapchat and Facebook,  brands that are first to integrate and market VR technologies will benefit from leading the pack, while simultaneously creating opportunities in a unique space where none previously existed before.

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Posted by Manuel Moreta

Manuel started his digital advertising career as a web designer and front end developer before transitioning to hold senior roles across Theorem. Since then he has been in charge of managing and leading Theorem creative services teams and key creative accounts. He is currently responsible for directing and overseeing the delivery of our creative services across Theorem’s global operation. Get in touch with Manuel.

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