The edge is a deserted place.
When brainstorming with a client, it’s only natural explore the latest tech, to try ‘push the envelope’. The edge of the tech is a fascinating place, where truly mind-blowing things happen. It’s also where your customer is most likely not.
Depending on sources, it’s estimated that the sales of the Oculus Rift, HTC Vice, Samsung Gear VR and Playstation VR combined should be between 8M and 15M by the end of 2016. Now consider that Facebook already has 1.4 billion monthly mobile users and that Youtube gets 1 billion videos views from mobile every day. Both platforms have developed their own 360 video players & let content creators promote 360 content to the masses using their incredibly powerful advertising platforms.
VR truly comes to life on higher-end headsets but those will only have a limited and very-defined audience (gamers, tech enthusiasts) for at least a couple more years. On the other end, much less immersive (but also less intrusive) 360 videos distribution channels will reach a majority of smartphones in the very near future...
What does this mean for VR Marketing?
It means that the distribution strategy must inform the content creation, right from the ideation process.
For brands looking to showcase VR content in an experiential context, pretty much everything is possible. However, this doesn’t mean that pushing the tech to its edge is necessarily the right strategy. You might want to let your audience take something home, build an app and distribute branded cardboards for example, and benefit from organic advocacy coming from the ‘wow factor’ still attached to VR.
On the other hand, you might want to harness Facebook and Youtube to reach your target audience on a massive scale. Whilst Facebook and Youtube let you scale your outreach efforts pretty easily, you have to remember that 98% of the views you’ll get will be from people without a headset. This has a lot of implications in terms of content creation, from the narrative pace to the tech used to shoot and even the ‘framing’ of the action within the 360 sphere.
This discrepancy between creative ambitions, technical considerations and actual distribution plans means that VR marketing content is often gimmicky, comically underwhelming or neck-pain inducing. Make sure to have clear objectives in mind to get the right creative to the right audience.