Technology makes immersive Experiences

In the previous item on trends, we got a taste of the incredible effectiveness of visual content. We’re seeing a major shift in visuals from still content to video content. In its VNI Mobile Forecast (2015 – 2020), Cisco predicts that in 2020, over 75% of the global mobile traffic will be composed of video content, while smartphones will represent a massive 81% of the total worldwide traffic. The future of content is video and the device we’ll be using to consume it is the smartphone.
Which leaves us with two significant questions: How will you be using video content to be successful in content marketing? And what complementary techniques will enable you to make this experience truly personal and immersive? There are two very distinctive game changers that add relevance to communicating content to the consumer, which are virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR). The rapid technological progress is making this content easier to come by; just think of Google Cardboard in combination with your own smartphone. You can watch 360 ˚ videos that the Efteling, Holland’s most famous theme park, made of its wildest rides ‘De Baron’ and ‘Joris en de Draak’(The Baron and George and the Dragon), giving you the ride of your life from your own couch. Pretty convincing advertising, if you ask us.

Beam me up
The convincing part of VR and AR lies in the fact that you’re not just watching the content, you’re actually experiencing it. Research shows that VR and AR have an effect on the brain, particularly on decisiveness, empathy and emotions such as hope and fun. As ‘content creator’, go in search of stories that are compelling and immerse the consumer in a VR adventure.

Another great example is Marriott hotels, that was looking to give itself a little image boost among young professionals by touring through eight major US cities with the ‘Travel Brilliantly’ Teleporter. Visitors could take a seat in the Teleporter, were given a pair of Oculus Rift glasses and wireless headphones and were instantly ‘beamed’ to Wai'anapanapa Beach in Maui or the top of Tower 42 in the heart of London. Not only could they experience the 360 ˚ video, but also 4D elements such as wind, heat, smell, vibrations, etc. This part of a much bigger marketing campaign helped Marriott rid itself of its somewhat stuffy image.

Is the VR webstore the way of the future?
Experiencing a gripping adventure yourself will undoubtedly create brand preference among consumers. But is VR / AR also capable of playing a role in converting shoppers? Experts are predicting that the future of VR is in ‘walk-around VR’ or ‘room-scale VR’, which allows you to move around in a virtual room, perhaps through a virtual showroom of your favourite retailer, while in real life you’re in your own bedroom. In July 2016, Alibaba already announced it saw potential in this concept. A prototype of their VR shopping program, Buy+, could be tested during the Taobao Makers Festival. Wearing a VR headset, people could explore the 360 ˚ store: products can be looked at in detail, there’s a VR robot that accompanies you as your personal shopping assistant and when you use the ‘check for details’ feature, clothing and accessories are showcased by models on a catwalk. If that’s the future for online stores, there’s a hell of a lot of VR content still to produce!

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