Virtual reality marketing

While virtual reality (VR) is nothing new, virtual reality marketing is starting to create buzz as the next big marketing medium.

As a marketer and gamer I’m excited to see how VR develops over the next couple of years. And I’m not alone. Interest in VR technology has risen sharply as new VR products launch or are announced.

Google searches for virtual reality are up by nearly 400% in the last year. While a recent study from Greenlight VR showed promising results for VR. Their survey found 71% of people felt VR made brands seem “forward-thinking and modern.” Tellingly 53% said they’d be more likely to purchase from a brand that’s using VR.

Goldman Sachs have predicted the VR market could be worth almost £60 billion by 2025.

Three major benefits of virtual reality marketing

  1. Immersion

One of VRs biggest selling points is its high level of immersion. Once users put on the headsets there is less distraction. They pay more attention to the content presented. This is good news for marketers trying to raise brand awareness or deliver their marketing message.  

  1. Tangible

VR offers the closest thing to actually being in a location or situation. Powerful for companies that sell a product or service that’s not tangible. For example, hotel or holiday brands can virtually transport people to any global location. They can showcase their resort in a way that’s just not possible with traditional brochures or video.

  1. Interactivity

VR promises access to highly interactive content. On a simple level this can be exploring a location. As VR advances so will the degree of interaction with the environment. We can expect more and more innovative uses as brands and agencies become comfortable with the technology. This interactivity will help marketers build memorable customer engagement experiences.   

How brands are already using virtual reality marketing

Brands across a variety of industries have found inventive ways of using virtual reality marketing to connect with their audiences. Here are five great examples:

Marriott

Marriott was an early adopter of virtual reality marketing. They created ‘the transporter’ with Oculus Rift technology. This used VR to transport users to locations such as London or Hawaii.

Marriott went ‘mobile’ with their next VR campaign, Virtual Postcards. Using the Samsung Gear VR, users experienced a real traveler’s journey to a unique destination such as the Andes, Rwanda and Beijing.

Thomas Cook

Tour operator Thomas Cook has embraced VR. In 2015 they used Samsung Gear VR headsets in 10 stores in the UK, Germany, and Belgium. Customers experienced standing on a balcony of a Santorini hotel and a helicopter ride above Manhattan.

Earlier this year Thomas Cook ran their Airlines Fantasy Flight campaign optimised for YouTube 360 and Google Cardboard. Set on a Airbus A330 flight users begin their journey in the plane’s cockpit. They can jump to separate videos filmed in economy and premium classes.

Users are challenged to look around the plane to find clues to three of the airline’s newest destinations. When they’re done, they can head to dedicated microsite to enter their answers, which could win them a £3,000 holiday to Los Angeles.

The videos feature real pilots and cabin crew, plus appearances from Kimye, Lady Gaga and a string quartet.

Volvo

VolvoReality gave potential customers the chance to virtually test drive a Volvo XC90 SUV using Google cardboard and their smartphone. Users download the app from either the App Store or Google Play. At launch Volvo offered a limited amount of Volvo-branded Cardboards through the app. It’s immersive with a full 360 degree view from the driver’s seat.

HBO

HBO have used VR to market recent seasons of hit show “Game of Thrones”. In 2014 using an Oculus Rift, wind machines, rumble packs and real elevators, they let users virtually ascend “The Wall” – a massive ice structure that’s one of the TV show’s major locations.

For the 2016 season launch, Oculus Rift owner, Facebook, provided a VR viewing experience through a special 360° synchronization of the show’s opening credits with Facebook.

Unicef

Last year Unicef created a VR film ‘Clouds over Sidra’. Drawing attention to the Syrian refugee crisis it focused on Sidra, a 12 year old girl living in a refugee camp. Users experienced what her daily life was like. The film doubled donations when it was shown on the streets of Auckland.

The technology

How quickly Virtual reality marketing evolves as a channel depends on the success of the technology. Excitingly a host of major tech companies are committed to VR across a variety of platforms.

Mobile

Consumer adoption of VR will be driven by mobile technology and content. It’s how most people will first experience VR. Mobile is the best platform for brands looking to use VR to reach a wide audience. Google and Samsung are the two major players.

Google released the Cardboard in 2014. Cheap and accessible it’s a great way for people to access VR on their smartphone. Google is set to follow up with Daydream later this year. While Samsung co-developed a more advanced headset, the Samsung Gear VR with Oculus.

Mobile VR content is easy to access. A wide range of apps are available from either the Google Play Store or Apple App Store. Plus you can watch 360 content on YouTube.

PC

The most immersive and powerful VR systems can be found on PC. But with a powerful PC needed to run them, they’re also the most expensive. This limits their popularity as a mainstream consumer product. They do however allow brands to create dynamic in-store or event VR experiences. 

The best known of the PC VR Headsets is Oculus Rift. It was first announced as a kickstarter project but later bought by Facebook

HTC Hive allows full freedom of movement. It uses IR sensors mounted to walls to map your movement which it then converts to the virtual world. The downside is that you need a relatively large area and it’s tricky to set up.

There are a growing number of VR games and experiences available for PC

Gaming Consoles

Sony leads the way with Playstation VR launching this October. An accessory for the PS4,  there’ll be a full lineup of games plus access to other content. While Playstation VR will run on a lower resolution than its PC rivals it’s also cheaper.

It could offer marketers the best choice for presenting exclusive VR content to a home audience.

What’s the potential for virtual reality marketing?

Virtual reality marketing is an exciting new medium for marketers to connect with their audience. But as with all marketing channels success will depend on how it aligns with the brand’s business strategy. There’s a danger some marketers will jump on VR because it’s trendy. And not consider whether it suits their target market. Lazy or unnecessary use of virtual reality will get disappointing results.

Marketers will have to get creative and think up ways of using the technology to its best potential. Content will have to be compelling and engaging. The technology is here. Consumer interest is growing. Now it’s up to the marketers.

I hope you enjoyed this look at virtual reality marketing. Please check back regularly for more pieces on digital marketing. Plus you can follow me on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.

 

Digital news – 20th May 2016

Here’s what caught my eye this week.

Digital marketing.

Who doesn’t like something for free. Clickz listed nine free tools for measuring social ROI.  

Snapchat is planning an algorithm to help curate brand content. And it’s looking to Facebook for inspiration. Check out Digiday for more on how a Snapchat algorithm will affect brands and publishers.

Continuing the Snapchat theme, Clickz ran a list of seventeen brands that are doing great things with Snapchat.

Tech

The BBC reported that the DVLA is working on a smartphone version of it’s driving licence. Further proof that digital wallets are the future.

The BBC has faced considerable resistance over its decision to axe it’s food recipe archive. Clickz looked at who stands to benefit. Spoiler – pretty much anyone else who’s looking to rank well in SEO for food recipes.

A bevel free iPhone’s closer as Apple’s registered a third patent for a Touch ID sensor embedded in the screen.

Gaming

It has long been rumoured and now the Batman: Return to Arkham collection has been confirmed. Due to be released on Xbox One  and PS4 in July, It’ll feature Batman: Arkham Asylum and Batman: Arkham City. Plus all previous DLC and GOTY bonuses. The best bit? According to IGN it’ll run on Unreal Engine 4, which means these two classics will look better than ever. Count me in…

Please check in regularly for more digital news pieces. Plus you can follow me on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn.

SEO Tips – Three Handy SEO tips

Three handy SEO tips 

I’m a sucker for SEO tips. It’s a marketing area I really enjoy. I think it’s the game aspect to it. Google set the rules and marketers try to get their content to the top of the rankings. All the time competing with their adversaries in rival businesses or agencies. Any small edge you gain can prove decisive.

We all know you need to create great content. But we also know that quality content alone won’t hack it.

A recent Duct Tape marketing podcast featuring Brian Dean (founder of Backlinko) offered some great SEO tips, three of which I found really interesting.

  1. Identify extra keywords in Keyword Planner

Most content creators will already be using Keyword Planner to identify keywords for PPC campaigns and organic search. Here are two tips to make Keyword Planner even more useful:  

    1. Use the ‘analyse a landing page’ feature. The good thing about this feature is that you can analyse any landing page, not just your own. So you can use high performing competitor pages. It’s a great way of getting keywords that aren’t immediately obvious.
    2. Pay close attention to the estimated CPC of keywords. Google is clever. Generally the higher the cost, the higher rate those keywords convert at. These are quality keywords that you’ll want to be targeting.
  1.      Boost link building through resource pages

It’s no secret how important quality links are to rankings. It’s also a difficult and time consuming exercise. A nifty way of getting good links to your content is to target relevant resource pages. They need high quality content.

You should be able to find resource pages through their search footprint. Two easy searches to carry out are:

Keyword + “useful resources”

Keyword + inURL:resources

Resource pages found, you now need to contact them. Email them saying that you’ve created a piece of relevant content and ask if they want to take a look. If you get a positive response send them the resource and the link to it on your site. But make sure your content’s relevant. Don’t try and fit a square peg into a round hole.

  1.   Create content upgrades

A great way of collecting email addresses is to support your content with similar gated content that people will sign up to. Again make sure that the supporting content is relevant and targeted. For example if you write a post on social media tips support this with a social media checklist, not a piece on SEO or PPC.

I hope you find these SEO tips useful. And good luck winning your own game of SEO.

Please check in regularly for more SEO tips and digital marketing pieces. Plus you can follow me on Twitter and LinkedIn.