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If you have played a VR game or tried cool AR features on social media, you've probably witnessed the influence of AR and VR in video marketing. First adopters of new technology have already started using immersive experiences to market and sell their products.
To get on the ship early, you need to know what AR and VR technologies are and what possibilities they might bring. That is also the main objective of this article. It covers how AR and VR work alongside their different use cases in video marketing. Read on to learn more.
AR vs VR: A Brief Overview
AR and VR might sound interchangeable, but they are two very distinct technology tracks. In fact, technologists and tech corporations position them as contenders, claiming one track will eventually win. And, when you want to use either of these for your marketing, you must understand how their different matters to you as a brand.
AR refers to "Augmented Reality," while VR refers to "Virtual Reality." Both are technologies that purport to elevate real experiences with the help of tech elements. VR offers fully immersive virtual experiences, while AR adds virtual elements in the real world. As a marketer, you can offer branded products in either space, but the possibilities don't end there.
But to best illustrate them, let’s take a look at the pros and cons of augmented reality and virtual reality from the marketing point of view.
The marketing advantages of AR are as follows:
You can use real locations - AR experiences can be set in real-world locations. This puts you as a business at an advantage. You can use engaging AR experiences to attract customers to your store or hold an event in a neighborhood with your target demographics.
The experiences you host can offer real connections - You can set up multiple experiences that foster a community of real-world visitors. The goodwill and permission marketing values of building a community are immense.
You can set up in-person selling for online products - Salespeople can be more persuasive if they can influence customers in person. That's why car dealerships rarely want to shift away from the showroom model. AR allows these institutions to showcase new products before they have arrived at locations.
Set up product demos in a better context - Not only can cars and big products be showcased in brick-and-mortar stores, but products of all sizes can be demoed at prospective customers' homes.
The marketing disadvantages of AR are as follows:
The experience is only semi-immersive - AR experiences do not occupy the customer’s entire vision. That’s the point. But for marketers, this means sharing the non-augmented space with other marketers. If your virtual banner is positioned in a real-world space, it might not be the only banner there.
You don’t have a captive audience - Again, the point of AR becomes a kind of setback for certain types of marketers. If you want to completely immerse your audience in your brand, then AR might not work.
Not as useful for products with low aesthetic value - Augmented reality allows users to view graphics that are superimposed in a real-life environment. You can show off the furniture you sell right in your audience’s homes. But that doesn’t work if you sell motor oil.
There is no chief augmented reality browser - If you want to advertise via augmented reality, you cannot reach a large audience through a single browser. There are different AR apps, and most lock out third-party advertisers.
Now that you know what marketing pros and cons AR brings to the table, you can see why it cannot be ignored as a marketing channel but cannot be the only technology in your next-gen video marketing mix. Let’s look at the other essential’s pros and cons as well.
The marketing pros of VR are:
You have a captive audience - With VR, your audience’s senses are fully immersed in the experience. If the branded experience is positive, your prospective customers will start associating feeling good with your brand.
You can leverage existing VR navigating platforms - There are platforms like Meta Horizon Worlds and VRChat where users of VR technology congregate. This offers you the opportunity to set up experiences that can have a better reach than AR events.
You can connect with customers far away from your physical store - Because of the nature of the VR technology, space and surroundings do not limit the kind of experience you want to deliver.
You can build brand goodwill via easy-to-access VR events - Building goodwill is a crucial component of long-term marketing. Customers who associate feeling good with you are more open to your future messaging. And this can continue for a long time as long as you do your marketing right.
The marketing cons of VR are:
Brands can get a flashback for intrusive advertising - Where the positive effect of marketing right with VR is tenfold, the negative ones of doing it wrong are a hundredfold. If you lack tact in video marketing, VR users will get seriously annoyed at your intrusion.
Most people don't have VR headsets - VR headsets are not as common, though they are getting adopted at a higher rate. Still, VR technology isn't reaching as many homes as AR since AR can be delivered via smartphones. And more people have smartphones than VR headsets.
It isn’t effective at physically bringing people to your store - VR is best used at home, so unless your business is a VR experience center, you can’t set up in-person VR events. Of course, this kind of use context creates remote marketing opportunities.
You trade in-person persuasion for virtual persuasion - Remote marketing doesn't work equally well for all businesses. Car dealerships and other salesperson-drive business categories have a serious disadvantage when they are working with VR marketing because they trade in-person persuasion for VR persuasion.
The Marketing Industry’s Take On AR And VR
As you can see, VR and AR are on distinct technological pathways. A future where VR is the primary next-gen technology looks pretty different from one where AR takes over. But in their current state, these technologies vary in their adoption rate, marketing viability, and much else. So, how do marketers see them? Do they have a favorite? Let's see.
The two technologies being on different tracks means marketers don’t have to pick one. They can market to VR users as well as AR users, albeit differently. For the most part, the consensus among forward-thinking marketers is that even though these technologies are in their infancy, it is time to use them for marketing.
Successful campaigns and case studies already present a roadmap for success in AR and VR marketing. And as these technologies mature, the potential for marketing and monetization is likely to increase. But the laggards might not reap all the rewards.
If you want to be great at VR or AR marketing, you should learn from campaigns that precede your maiden one. Here are a few things worth remembering.
VR Is Ideal If Over 50% Of Your Orders Are Online
Since virtual reality is one of the best ways to deliver an experience to a remote audience, brands that get most of their sales online can use the technology to promote their products and services. But for brick-and-mortar businesses that don’t have a wide enough presence, a VR event might not be as beneficial as an AR integration.
AR Is Better If Geography Is Important For Your Sales
You can use AR to get more in-person visits. For instance, you can create a virtual treasure hunt at a nearby park and offer free lemonade at your shop. VR isn’t as good at this as it is at reaching people in their homes.
You Should Not Bring Conventional Marketing Wisdom To AR and VR Marketing
AR and VR experiences are highly personal, and the users always have the option to choose actual reality over virtual or augmented one. This isn't TV or YouTube, where the users have limited options.
Don't Deliver Ads. Create Experiences
Ads are annoying even when they are as impersonal as billboard ads. While users have accepted ads on smartphones and laptops, they are not as open to being advertised to via their virtual sanctuaries. So you have to be fun and support users in having fun.
Make The Experiences Worth Showing Off
VR and AR are on a good adoption trajectory. And early users are quite interested in showing off their gadgets and how much fun they are having. If you make your AR and VR experiences easy to show off, your users will market on your behalf.
AR and VR Marketing Case Studies
The consistent success of AR and VR marketing campaigns should give most video marketers a serious case of FOMO. Unfortunately, marketers who are entrenched in a specific way of advertising rarely get exposed to these stories. Here are a few case studies that will make you rethink your marketing mix.
AR: Gucci’s Virtual Sneakers
Letting users visualize products before buying them is one of the most consistent themes of recent AR marketing campaigns. While many brands have used AR experiences to show how their products would look in a home, Gucci’s virtual sneakers campaign allowed users to try on sneakers virtually.
Since a major motivation behind buying luxury fashion items is to show them off online, the virtual sneaker is right at home. However, customers being able to see how their fit would look isn’t the only “try before you transact” experience available.
VR: Thomas Cook's Try Before You Fly
On the VR side, Thomas Cook delivered virtual vacations to customers. As a travel agency, this was one of the best campaigns that Thomas Cook could have launched. It acted as a free experience that could convert to a paid one.
With this campaign, Thomas Cook offset two of the well-established assumptions about VR marketing. It didn't deliver this experience remotely. So, the agency did combine online and in-person persuasion, which was previously assumed to be impossible in VR.
And more importantly, Thomas Cook did not limit its VR experience to those who already own a VR headset. Instead, they had the gear at their location and let physical visitors have the virtual experience in the store.
AR: Snap's City Painter
Graffiti has had high value in cultivating social dialogue. But it has its negatives, which is why it is illegal in most cities. Snap took the positive aspects of graffiti and erased the negatives with its AR "city painter" experience.
Users could virtually paint any wall in public, and other users viewing the wall through the experience could view the painting. They could also paint over previously painted murals. Overall, this experience increased Snap's engagement and usability. But what's of greatest significance in this case study is that Snap positioned itself as a great partner for businesses that are trying to deliver branded experiences.
VR: Mcdonald's Happy Goggles
The Happy Goggles campaign has brought VR to kids while simultaneously making its immersive campaign a mass-marketing success. How? Instead of going advanced, it went to VR's humble roots. The Happy Goggles were makeshift VR viewers that could be folded from Happy Meal Boxes.
And by placing a smartphone inside, children could play Slop Stars, an educational game. Google has the Google Cardboard, which is a similar viewer that works with any smartphone. What's worth noting about both of these products is that they prove that VR is not limited to Meta Quest or HTC Vive. They can be delivered via a smartphone and a cardboard box.
AR: IKEA Kreativ
The IKEA Studio App, later turned into the IKEA Place app, offered a virtual experience that allowed people to be interior designers of their environment without buying any furniture. The projects remained isolated and experimental up until the 2020s, when it was rebranded once again to Ikea Kreativ.
Now, it is connected to Ikea's catalog and even allows users to virtually visit showrooms before buying products. As a marketer, your takeaway from this case study should be that you can have your own AR app.
You don't need to rely on the AR features of Snapchat or Instagram. If your product aligns well with AR, then you—like IKEA—might spend five years perfecting an AR experience while letting your audience use it.
AR and VR Growth Possibilities
AR and VR technologies have been in the play for marketers since 2015, so it is easy to think that they are not going to mature any further. But that cannot be further from the truth. There are plenty of growth opportunities for these tech tracks and immense potential for growth for new marketers. Let's explore these.
Higher Adoption Rate
There's one aspect of both these technologies that is unmistakably set in stone: they will have more users next year than they have this year. If you look at the AR and VR growth trends, you'll notice a lean towards an exponential uptick.
What does that mean for marketers? A growing audience base. The better marketers prepare today, the more they can capitalize on the audience of tomorrow.
Better Delivery Experiences
The sponsored content delivery mechanisms, as well as branded experience delivery, are likely to get streamlined once enough users and content creators hop on the VR bandwagon.
AR is already gaining traction and can be used via Instagram, Snapchat, and Facebook.
So, marketers can work with VR and AR designers to design branded experiences for social media users. A similar thing can be expected in the VR space once Meta and other tech giants develop and popularize VR.
As adoption increases, more markets will realize the kind of opportunity they have on their hands. That's when things might get tough for brands.
Once companies start bidding against each other to get in front of the same audience, only the early movers and creative marketers will survive. Marketers can prepare for this by getting a headstart and incorporating VR and AR into their respective marketing mixes.
Increasing Audience Openness
Right now, marketers have to find valuable ways to integrate AR and VR into their marketing. But as ads become more common in these spaces, you can expect marketers to get lazy and the audience to get more passive.
On the surface, this might sound like a bad thing, but it has an upside. Once ads are commonplace in virtual and augmented spaces, your brand will not be especially scrutinized for choosing these spaces to deliver branded messages.
Still, you shouldn't take this as permission to deliver annoying and intrusive ads. Stay creative because brands that stay fresh build goodwill.
The Tipping Of Scales
Finally, a point may come when real and virtual realities may have 50-50 adoption. This may sound pretty far fetched—but think about a time when thought leaders predicted the same thing about online dating.
The point worth noting is not that eventually, online and in-person dating reached a 50-50 adoption rate. The point is that the scales tipped in online dating's favor. Today, more than 53 % of couples credit online dating for their meeting.
As a video marketer, one thing you need to prepare yourself for is the eventual boom in AR and VR adoption. Fortunately, there are hundreds of case studies and opportunities for video marketers to learn from and avail respectively. So, make sure to get lessons from the success stories covered in this post.