Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Digital Marketers: 3 Ways to Use Virtual Reality to Revolutionize Digital Marketing Experience

As a digital & interactive marketing expert, you believe that 2017 will be an exciting year for virtual reality development. Virtual reality has opened up brands to the potential of technology that they have never experienced before. As a graduate student at Northwestern University in Medill Integrated Marketing Communications program who has interest in digital marketing, I have found two articles that highlight how Virtual Reality is a trend to watch in 2017.
In the article Why 2017 could be the year of virtual reality, published on Theweek.comAlejandro Alba mentions how Virtual Reality technology broke far out of the gaming world last year. That it only lives inside a headset but can transport you anywhere in your imagined worlds draws many giant companies such as Samsung, Marriott Hotels, The New York Times, Hollywood, Microsoft, Apple and Facebook, just to name a few, into the real world of Virtual Reality. Facebook, which owns Oculus, also said last year that it will make the experience more social allowing users to travel the world and hang out in virtual dream homes.

Source: ABC News

Claire L Evans from points out another interesting consideration to make Virtual Reality a hit in the article Virtual reality may look cool, but it will feel empty without community. She mentions that experiences from Virtual Reality are impressive but they will never truly feel real until they can be shared, “The reality is more than just places, but it is about people”. An example of a primitive version of the Virtual Reality hangout game called Habitat is given because its players were so involved, fell in love, formed a community, and even started religions. So, the game became a real community made of people. It is important to understand that Virtual Reality’s convincing environment is so real that the users want to share it with their community. So, according to Evans, to make it extremely effective, marketers should design a strategy that “makes space for real social interactions within virtual environments.”
These two articles have shown that giant companies are seriously jumping into this trend and trying to develop a community and making it social, especially Facebook. So, after reviewing these two powerful articles and reviewing relevant studies, I have developed three key points to consider when forming a digital strategy using Virtual Reality.  

  • Experience beyond boundaries - Create a new kind of experience that is so real, yet goes beyond the boundaries of consumers’ reality.
  • Immerse in daydream - Gives importance not only to the Virtual Reality itself, but also to the surrounding brand experience. It creates a believable and interactive brand experience that engages consumers’ body and mind, allowing them to be immersed in a daydream.
  • Create a community - Virtual Reality is not fun if you don’t use with other people, so there should be a community for Virtual Reality users to engage with.

Remember, sooner or later Virtual Reality will come and on a much grander scale, digital marketers should start thinking about it now before it is too late.

About the author: Prae Sarasin is a graduate student at Northwestern University majoring in Digital and Interactive Marketing, and Brand Strategy and pursuing the Medill School of Integrated Marketing Communications program. Upon graduating in December 2017, I am interested in pursuing a digital marketing position. For more information, you can contact me at LinkedIn or Twitter.

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