How VR and AR will transform marketing and advertising


Virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) technologies slowly are being adopted by enterprises for numerous reasons. Walmart, for example, recently announced it will distribute 17,000 Oculus Go VR headsets to train employees in the retail giant’s more than 4,700 stores in the U.S. And IKEA offers customers with iOS devices an AR app that shows them what items sold by the home furnishings company could look like in their own homes.

VR and AR also are expected to provide marketers and advertisers with powerful tools to connect with customers, spark buying decisions, and build long-term brand loyalty. Forbes recently asked members of its Forbes Agency Council — comprised of PR, media strategy, creative and advertising executives — for their predictions on how marketers and advertisers will leverage AR and VR in coming years.

Perhaps the most significant expected change involves the ability of AR and VR to create entirely new experiences.

“The traditional model of advertising and marketing is based on the marketer speaking to the marketed through a commercial, social post or digital skyscraper ad,” says Kathleen Lucente of Red Fan Communications. “With AR and VR, customers have a new opportunity to become part of the experience, to interact with a brand in ways they haven’t before.”

But only if done right. What marketers and advertisers must avoid is presenting content in a way that doesn’t take advantage of AR and VR’s unique features and capabilities. Or as Elizabeth Jean Poston of Helios Interactive puts it, “AR and VR are immersive tools with differing value props, so marketers need to educate themselves about the distinctions and properly align the value props with their own KPIs.”

Finally, AR will allow advertising to be “more integrated into our daily lives,” says Bernard May of National Positions. “Advertising and marketing will utilize more real-time data based on user preference to dynamically affect messaging, colors, avatars, timing and placement. A more fluid human experience is the ultimate goal.”

All of this will unfold gradually as consumers become accustomed to AR and VR, a process that will require some progress on hardware (VR headsets in particular) to make these technologies easier, more comfortable, and safer to use.

But the time for marketers and advertisers to begin developing strategies for AR and VR is now.

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