Rise in Virtual Reality Investment Causing Stir with Marketers

By Jason McClain | September 21, 2016 | 0 Comment

Rise in Virtual Reality Investment Causing Stir with Marketers

Virtual reality investment is on the rise. At the beginning of 2016, it was projected by Deloitte to become a $1 billion industry and by Goldman Sachs to be potentially worth $80 billion by 2025. This is quite a jump from the $700 million invested during 2015. Thus, virtual reality can no longer be overlooked as a method for engaging customers for marketers who are either well into or beginning to create marketing plans for 2017.

What is Virtual Reality?

In simplistic terms, virtual reality provides viewers with a complete immersion into a 360-degree experience, often using headsets that isolate them from the outside environment. To elaborate, it refers to computer technologies that utilize software for generation of realistic images, sounds and sensations with the hopes of replicating a real environment and stimulate a user’s presence in that environment.

Although a lot of the technology seems fairly new to the general public, first references to the concept of virtual reality came from science fiction as early as the 1950’s. It has been a discussion point for many gamers since Sega announced the Sega VR headset for arcade games in 1991. That being said, the popularity of virtual reality has really expanded beyond the entertainment and gaming industries.

Why Virtual Reality Has Been Growing in Popularity?

We have already seen growth in the Internet of Things (IoT), a proposed development of the Internet in which everyday objects have network connectivity allowing them to send and receive data. Marketers are leaning more toward providing an “experience” or “storytelling” as methods of highlighting or selling an offering to potential or returning customers. These trends really have paved the way for virtual reality investment to take off.

Another big push for its popularity has to do with big marketing and technology brands investing and engaging in virtual reality development efforts. This would include Samsung’s Gear VR headset, which sold out on the day of its release; Google’s Google Cardboard, which enables smartphone virtual reality experiences; Facebook’s Oculus Rift; and HTC’s Vive.

One of the more recent launches was PlayStation VR (Project Morpheus), which is a virtual reality head-mounted display that launched on October 13, 2016. Newzoo released a quarterly Global Games Market Report that showed gamers would generate a total of $99.6 billion in revenues in 2016. Now, that is a huge audience for marketers to tap into as they begin to think about virtual reality investment.

Should Your Business Be Incorporating VR into Marketing Strategies?

If we think of the inbound methodology presented by Hubspot (which has a few different variations) to drive strangers to become advocates, the goal of marketers is to attract, connect, engage and then delight. If one thinks about the opportunities virtual reality offers, it really encompasses all of these aspects. With being so immersed to a message being presented, leaving behind the noise and disruptions that typically would accompany a presentation, it is no wonder more marketers are beginning to at least consider virtual reality as a marketing tool.

Despite its popularity, there are other factors for a business to consider before incorporating virtual reality investment into marketing strategies such as production price, relevancy, consumer demand, and point of entry. Marketers should ask themselves what kind of experience they want to provide customers and if virtual reality can enhance that experience.

Just like with any technology, especially in its infancy, there are pros and cons to utilizing it in a business setting. In some cases, virtual reality viewers may experience motion sickness after viewing content, even if they are not prone to it. Even though many cases have shown positive results, there are still many marketing touch points for which VR has yet to be tested.

Wrapping Up the Conversation on Virtual Reality for Marketers

What are your thoughts on the rise in virtual reality investment? Do you think it pays off more to be an early adopter or to wait until it has been somewhat “proven” to drive results?

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