Audio and Video

Published on August 28th, 2015 | by Guest


Advertising in the coming age of virtual reality


Image source: Event Marketer

Last November, at the Brooklyn stop of Mountain Dew’s Dew Tour, a skateboard and bmx competition, attendees were given the opportunity to ride along next to some of their favorite pros. However, in order to do so, they had to put on a virtual reality headset. Mountain Dew, along with advertising agency Firstborn, put together a two minute, live action, 3D, immersive virtual reality video where the viewer was put on a skateboard alongside pros like Paul Rodriguez as they skated around a handful of urban environments.

“This is not an advertisement. This is an experience.” said Mountain Dew’s director of brand marketing Jamal Henderson.

Other early forays into virtual reality advertising have come from Volvo and Jim Beam. At the Los Angeles Auto Show, attendees were given a virtual reality experience that allowed them to check out the Volvo XC90’s interior as well as test drive it. Volvo had built a mobile app that was compatible with the VR device Google Cardboard.

To help market its Devil’s Cut bourbon, Jim Beam has been taking bottles of the liquor as well as Samsung Gear headsets, another VR device, to bars all around the country. The goal being to take a loud, crowded place and turn it into an opportunity to get the full attention of the consumer. In Jim Beam’s minute long video, users ride a stream of bourbon into a barrel where they swish around and are eventually catapulted out. Meanwhile a bourbon-soaked piece of paper is placed under the noise of the user for a more heightened sensory experience.

These early adopters of virtual reality as an advertising platform must all be assuming that VR goggles will become a household device in the near future. As it sits now, a small niche of consumers use VR and the production costs of these advertising projects are quite high (Mountain Dew spent more than a $1 million on their video). Additionally, companies currently have to bring the devices on the road to get people to see the content they’ve created because there aren’t enough users for a marketing campaign to be successful. Fortunately, they’re in a perfect position to hit the mainstream, as they’re projected to become much cheaper.


Image source: My Trendy Phone.

Beyond affordability, though, brands might have to wait for the marketing image to catch up with the capabilities of VR. At this point it still seems gimmicky to the general population. This Time Magazine cover photo of the inventor of Oculus Rift isn’t helping one bit. Sadly, efforts most likely have to be made to make virtual reality a more “sexy” media platform before the general population accepts it with open arms.

At this point Oculus has put out two developer kits, the DK1 and DK2, but the headset will be available to the public in early 2016. Marketing to millennials with these new VR ventures will be advantageous because they tend to be early adopters. Additionally, it is predicted that as a generation they’ll spend $200 billion dollars per year in the near future.

The concept of virtual reality should appeal to entrepreneurs and those well-versed in the platform because so much has yet to be explored.

“Everyone who does something [in VR] now, for the next five years, is going to be inventing something,” said Aaron Clinger, technical director at ad agency Venables Bell & Partners. “That’s really exciting for those of us who have seen the mobile and web revolution.”

The golden age of advertising in virtual reality could very well consist of VR users seeking out the content that companies want them to consume, instead of the way advertisements currently have to interrupt content to be seen.

How do you think the VR revolution will affect advertising?


About the author:

Reed Parker lives in Boise, Idaho and he writes about business, psychology, and the intersection of the two.

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