By Leah Stoudenmire
The marketing and business world have been inundated with prognostications and projections about how AI is changing industries.
But let’s talk about two fields your business needs to be paying attention to much more than AI. They are augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR). In the past, AR and VR have been largely associated with video games and other forms of entertainment, but now they’re carving out a path in the world of marketing.
What are they and what are the differences? AR involves overlaying information digitally onto our real world. It enhances the user’s perception and creates an interactive experience which is usually done by utilizing smartphones, tablets, and even smart glasses to superimpose digitally generated elements.
Meanwhile, VR immerses individuals in a completely virtual simulated environment that is wholly separate from our real world. This is done by wearing a VR headset so users are transported into a computer-generated environment in which they can explore, interact with, and feel immersed in another world.
So what’s the reason for the rise in popularity?
For starters, our world has made leaps in technology advancements. While the price of augmented and virtual reality remained costly in years past, the development of higher-performing devices, improved digital graphics, and more affordable supplies has made these technologies accessible to the public and businesses.
Because of this, individuals are experiencing the world around them differently, allowing them to engage with digital content, stories, and adventures not previously offered. People are gravitating towards this technology as they crave immersive marketing experiences.
Immersive Storytelling: Marketers provide their customers with immersive narratives and experiences, and they can encourage the brands they work with to draw their ideal audience in with emotional connection and realities. VR, for instance, can offer virtual tours or simulations. Customers can fully interact and immerse themselves with a brand’s offerings that traditional marketing can’t quite do.
Interactive Campaigns: AR and VR open a world of possibilities for engaging with advertising campaigns. Great examples of this include brands creating AR filters/lenses for social platforms and allowing their users to interact virtually with products or other branded content. These interactive campaigns increase brand visibility and awareness, too.
Product Visualization: Several brands (including Amazon) have jumped on board with visualizing products in your home. AR apps take a live look at your room and can place virtual furniture into the living space which allows you to see how well it fits (or doesn’t!), complements the surrounding colors, and more. These moments of visualization act two-fold: one, they allow customers to purchase the best choice for them (meaning fewer returns), and two, they can place multiple items in their virtual room and add more details and decor (meaning more sales).
Engagement and Data Collection: Just like with the rise of AI, marketers are rightly hesitant and unsure of what AR and VR will mean for them. But the possibilities are endless! Augmented and virtual realities foster a deep engagement by immersing consumers in a fully branded experience. And this engagement leads to brand recall, customer loyalty, and the coveted word-of-mouth referrals.
This new age of marketing is as exciting as it is challenging. Brands will captivate audiences by telling more interesting stories and fostering deeper connections.
Whether your company hopes to use it for product visualization or interactive campaigns, both AR and VR allow you to stand out in an oversaturated market as these technologies will continue to challenge and evolve the way we bring goods and services to consumers.