3 Ways Marketers Are Diving Into Virtual Reality & 360 Video Technology
At the end of 2015, virtual reality made international headlines with the first large-scale commercial release of VR headsets. Samsung began selling Gear VR in November of 2015, Facebook released its Oculus Rift in March 2016, and HTC’s Vive came out the following April. Since this wave of VR devices hit the market, pundits have been counting down the days until VR technology reaches widespread adoption among consumers.
Innovative brands have been quick to dive into virtual reality (VR) and 360-degree video to find new ways to interact with consumers. From Coca-Cola to McDonalds to Marriott, top brands are creating immersive experiences that allow consumers to experience the brand in a new and memorable way. Following are some successful examples of brands that have integrated VR technology into their content marketing strategies.
These forays run the gamut from 360-degree video to true VR experiences. The basic difference between 360 and pure VR is this: 360-degree video fixes the viewer in a single spot and allows her to look around. Pure virtual reality, on the other hand, allows the viewer to move through an environment and interact with it.
Create a Memorable Brand Experience
This is perhaps the most popular form of VR marketing. Many brands are creating immersive experiences that tell their brand story and keep their message top of mind. Coca-Cola, for example, produced a virtual 360-degree video that took viewers on a ride in Santa’s sleigh. In 2015, the soda brand brought the experience to towns throughout Poland in its annual tour of Coca-Cola Christmas Trucks. Thousands of consumers tried on VR headsets and experienced a roller-coaster-like ride in Santa’s sleigh. The initiative got consumers in the Christmas spirit and kept Coca-Cola top of mind during the holiday season.
Offer a Virtual Sample Before Purchase
Trying out products has huge potential on VR. If a consumer can’t make it to a physical store, VR provides the perfect opportunity for consumers to experience a brand’s product or service virtually. For example, Marriott offered a 360-degree video experience that transported consumers to various vacation spots. Consumers could go on a guided tour of the hotel and decide if this was a vacation they wanted to take. Volvo also released a virtual test drive of its XC90 at the 2014 Los Angeles Auto Show. Especially for big ticket items, a virtual test could be a great way to familiarize consumers with your product.
Share a Live Experience
One of the most innovative ways brands have used VR technology is to allow consumers to experience live events with 360-degree video. Topshop, for example, invited a select group of customers to watch its 2014 London Fashion Week show. Then after the show, visitors to Topshop’s flagship Oxford Street store were able to watch the 360-degree video on demand and relive the experience. If your brand hosts a must-see event, this could be a great way to expand your audience beyond the confines of an arena or conference hall.
We’ll discuss new opportunities for brands in the VR space at FUSE Enterprise: The Convergence of Technology & Branded Content.
Related story: 2017: What Marketers Must Consider for the Year Ahead