Get used to hearing the words virtual reality (VR) headsets. A once clunky-looking device that you may have seen in various theme parks, SkyMall catalogs, high-end arcades, and futuristic movies is now going to become more commonplace. You’ve probably heard the recent news that the Oculus Rift (a device that blew up on Kickstarter and was acquired by Facebook for $2 billion) is now available for pre-order but at a whopping $600. That’s on top of the beefy computer rig required to be able to run it. But with other companies also in development of their own VR headsets: HTC’s Vive, PlayStation VR, Samsung VR, it won’t be long before competition causes VR headsets to drop in price and become a common, house-hold item as more and more users begin to turn heads (no pun intended) toward this new user experience that provides an immersive experience that’s almost as good as the real thing.
For the uninitiated, virtual reality is the computer-generated simulation of a three-dimensional image or environment that can be interacted with in a seemingly real or physical way by a person using special electronic equipment, such as a helmet with a screen inside or gloves fitted with sensors.
If you have one of the latest smartphones then you’re halfway there to experiencing a “lighter” version of VR if you get Google Cardboard which is a far more affordable option to get a glimpse of what VR has to offer. With this simple viewer, you can access YouTube 360 videos that are filmed with special cameras that allow the user to turn their head in multiple directions while the video is still playing. This engrossing experience gives you a 3D effect that makes you feel as if you are really there.
It’s no surprise that Facebook quickly rushed in to grab the Oculus brand once it was finally proven that VR headsets are now attainable and, for the most part, affordable to the average person. However, marketers will now face an avenue of exploration that they have never ventured into before and only the smartest forms of VR marketing will be able to thrive in this brave, new world.
Here are some virtual reality uses for marketing
Home Walk-Throughs for Real Estate
This will allow realtors the ability to show off their listings to anyone, anywhere, at any time. With just one recorded walkthrough, a realtor can effectively give interested buyers as many walkthroughs as they possibly want. This can possibly help “weed out” the least interested from the more serious buyers who may not have the time to travel to multiple listings if they are shopping for homes in multiple cities.
Showrooms for Products
To piggyback on that idea, VR users can focus in on certain selectable items within a house or showroom to receive more information about a certain product and be able to place that in a shopping basket. This can also be applied to big and small e-commerce stores to give users the opportunity to virtually inspect almost any item. No more need for multiple pictures of one item if it can be easily viewed from any angle the user wishes all from the comfort of their own home!
Trying Out a Leisure Experience Before Booking
If you’re about to go to a restaurant, what if you can watch how a certain dish is prepared by the chef? Or, before booking an expensive vacation to an exotic location, take a virtual tour around the resort and see it for yourself in 1st-person?
A VR experience will strengthen the connection between the user and the brand. Audiences are becoming smarter and are expecting to have their intelligence acknowledged. Any company that attempts to use intrusive, “in-your-face” forms of advertising are signing a death sentence. Just as you would avoid anyone who walks up to you and starts shouting, so too will VR users if they are met with such hostile forms of marketing.
In any case, VR is coming and time will tell if audiences will enthusiastically greet this new frontier with a cold shoulder or open eyes (pun intended).
I’m a Texan native and love living in Austin. I enjoy marketing because it gives me a chance to work in different industries and because no two days are the same. I have a knack for soaking up information and disseminating it for others. In my down time I devour TV shows, music, movies, and video games.