What an absolutely terrifying/exciting technological possibility: Immersing consumers into branded content, the news or ad-sponsored programming like never before.
Virtual Reality, the experience of feeling like your IN a scene – living it and breathing it in real time (with the help of a VR headset), is gaining traction in consumer spaces, fast. As it does, it’s causing uproars of giddy excitement amongst creators of ads, entertainment, content and news media; while furrowing the brows of purists who voice legit concerns over ruining the VR experience.
Mountain Dew took the leap last year with Dew VR® Snow which you can’t FULLY enjoy without a Samsung Gear VR headset. So, imagine heli skiing with pro snowboarders, drinking Dew and crushing some of the world’s best powder at stratospheric heights. For this brand, VR works. And with the potential to make a deeper connection with audiences, no wonder other ad heavyweights like McDonald’s and Coca Cola want in. But does VR make sense for say, a P&G brand peddling paper towels? Mmmaybe not.
Which is why tech insiders hope the adaption to VR will be slow and measured, not used as the latest gimmick to make a quick buck. It’s a nice thought, but we’re talking about advertisers and brands with the budgets and the bravado to pounce on the latest, coolest technology to reach the right audience. An audience full of people who own VR headsets. An audience which currently has very few members. But as we know, this will change quickly…
So, What Are the Opportunities for Marketers?
It’s early in the VR game, but advertisers know it’s the future. So if your product and concept are solid, creating branded content seems like a winning proposition. Here’s a captivating post created by New York Times’ Brand Studio for GE. But interrupting the emotional investment and sensory thrill ride of VR with an ad could be a bad gamble. Unless of course, you’re Sony Pictures Television. The media giant is hoping to take VR programming and content, and advertising revenues, to all new levels with Crackle: The ad-friendly VR video-on-demand streaming service.
For more on Crackle, click here.
It will be interesting to see how the VR game plays out. Will eager advertisers outpace the number of VR-equipped consumers? Will we tolerate ads in our ever-advancing methods of consuming content? Or will we finally say, “Enough!” and spare the beauty of VR from the buy-now mentality of advertising. This is going to be a must-watch drama for years to come.