Who still cares about Virtual Reality? Here’s why brands should…

The dust around VR has settled since the beginning of the year. What happened to the hype technology that was about to change the world?

By Jonas Larbalette | March 20th, 2017

 

If there was one marketing buzz word in 2016, it was undoubtedly Virtual Reality.

Well, that’s okay – looking at the Gartner Hype Cycle Of Emerging Technologies, it’s the only innovation that has truly reached the “slope of enlightenment” – the final phase before getting useful for the broad mass.

But what about VR in 2017 and beyond now that the dust has settled?

Google Trends reveals that after an inflationary peak around Christmas 2016, hardly anyone cares about Virtual Reality anymore today. Moreover, numerous studies prove that VR is far from finding its way into consumers’ living rooms – especially in Central European markets that show high rejection rates against VR.

There is an obvious mismatch between expectations and real consumer benefits of VR today, leading to a “gap of disappointment” until at least 2020.

What will happen until 2020 then? Today, the seemingly difficult relationship between VR and consumers indicates a typical chicken-or-the-egg dilemma. Brands and publishers barely invest in high-quality VR content because there’s no adequate device coverage yet.

Consumers will not buy devices as long as there is no content that really attracts them. Who will break the ice?

Regarding devices, it’s just a question of time until users can afford to enter into immersive experiences. For example, PlayStation VR will take huge steps towards mainstream adoption because users already have the respective high-end gaming computer in their living room.

Further, the mobile VR experience gets stronger as smartphones are increasingly equipped with powerful graphic engines and high-resolution screens up to 4K. For both stationary and mobile VR, motion controllers and room-scale tracking meanwhile enable the “Six Degrees of Freedom” you need to truly immerse into a virtual surrounding. Moreover, face-tracking solutions will make VR go social step by step.

Also on the content side of things, becoming social will be one of the strongest drivers for VR to go mainstream – and the big players have stepped in already.

Facebook is working on making the platform completely VR. Google enables YouTube, Maps, Earth and even every single homepage on the web to be consumed in VR – imagine reading this blog post in a fully immersive MediaCom meeting room.

Besides that, all relevant video platforms have recently integrated 360° live streaming – creating the gateway drug for consumers and creators to embrace Virtual Reality.

At MediaCom we think it’s the brands who can today become the ice breakers of Virtual Reality. Advertisers can now use the unique opportunity of an emerging mass media technology to create outstanding goosebumps content – shaping their brand in a way that has not been possible before.

Consumers might need some more time, striding the gap of disappointment but, right now, brands should use this gap as a window of innovation to surprise their target group.

Before somebody else does.

Follow @weareMBA on Twitter for more news and information on the work we do


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