The promise of VR Marketing is almost too good to be true: unframed creativity, immersiveness, empathy, memorability and the power to alter behavior. Add in the upcoming mass-adoption of VR and you’re looking at a new advertising eldorado.
Except so far, most VR marketing campaigns oscillate between gimmicky (but fun) and embarrassingly ugly.
Here are the 4 most common mistakes we’ve observed around VR Marketing:
1. Doing VR for VR’s sake
The majority a 360 marketing videos still consist of a single (often static) shot in the middle of some sort of a circle of people or a car cockpit. If you have a headset on, you’ll get neck pains after about 30 seconds. If you’re watching full-screen on your phone trying to follow the action, you’ll soon suffer from the “frustrated swiper” syndrome. Making your viewer a spinning top is simply a terrible idea. Half-assed, hurried up campaigns also look terrible for your brand.
2. Creative shoe-horning
Early TV programmes were basically televised radio shows. Similarly, VR is still too often treated by creatives as “film or animation in 360 degrees” and therefore many campaigns feel like they’ve been crowbarred in VR. In VR, the viewer is offered a story-world and becomes the director of his own experience. A more active spectator is more emotionally engaged, which is great for marketing. But that means that a good part of the traditional film narrative toolbox (framing, most editing..etc.) doesn’t translate to VR. Creating great VR demands new skills. The screenwriter must become a spherewriter and the creative director an AX designer: looking at the audience experience from an emotional, cognitive and physical perspective.
3. Poor distribution
VR is a pretty loose term. Playing Tilt Brush on your HTC Vive, checking Nomads on your Gear VR or watching Aladdin Magic Carpet 360 on your phone are very different experiences. Now consider that there are only about 50K HTC Vives out there right now and that Samsung just announced 1 million monthly active users of their Gear VR. Quite a small number compared to the 3 billion devices able to play 360 videos today... Your target audience’s device breakdown should inform the creative and, from the outset, your distribution strategy. Paid targeting on Facebook and Youtube, social media influencer strategies, Google Cardboard distribution & apps, 360-ready microsites, behind-the-scenes videos from experiential VR stunts, PR...there are multiple ways to plan and measure your ROI on VR content. Brands will get their “bang for the buck” if they don’t leave distribution as an afterthought.
4. Lack of ambition
VR is moving fast: new cameras, headsets, controllers, platforms are seemingly piling up at an alarming rate. It looks terribly complicated and expensive and, for fear of doing something average or reaching only a handful of tech enthusiasts, a lot of clients shy away from VR. They should instead see the brighter truth: the tech is getting better and mass adoption is around the corner. On the content front, things are about to (finally) become really worth it : HBO, Steven Spielberg, Time, Live Nation, Fox Sports, Disney, National Geographic, the New York Times are all working in VR. Not to mention games, 360 crowd content and social platforms.
A mass-market VR ecosystem ripe for advertisers is at our doorstep. The brands that are currently winning in VR (McDonald’s, Toms’ shoes and Ikea to name a few) have created campaigns that are VR-native narratively, strategically sound and technically perfectly executed.
Follow the leaders.