Don’t use virtual reality if your product is dull, warns Tourism Australia marketing chief

Brands considering the use of virtual reality (VR) in their marketing have been told to ditch the idea unless they have an interesting product to sell.

Lisa Ronson

Ronson: ‘Yes, it’s new technology but people need to be compelled and they need to be engaged.’

Tourism Australia chief marketing officer Lisa Ronson said some brands are exploring VR in the mistaken belief that consumers will be engaged by the technology.

But what lies at the heart of a successful VR strategy is the product and content, she said.

Ronson, speaking of her experiences of the technology at the Mumbrella Travel Marketing Summit yesterday, said: “The one thing about VR, and some brands are getting it right, others not so much, is that it doesn’t make something that is really boring suddenly interesting. It sounds obvious but there are some brands that are going ‘oh, let’s sell our product by doing VR’.

“But if the product doesn’t lend itself [to VR] don’t force it. It’s about looking at what the consumer is going to find interesting. They are just not going to stand there for 10, 15, 30 seconds or a minute, and keep engaging with the content if it’s not so interesting.

“Yes, it’s new technology and that is interesting, but people need to be compelled and they need to be engaged.”

Ronson, who shot 17 virtual reality experiences and 360 degree videos as part of Tourism Australia’s coastal and aquatic campaign, advised companies exploring VR to plan meticulously and allow for a “significant” amount of time in pre-production.

“We all know 2D shoots are hard, particularly in tourism when they are subject to the weather, as we experienced,” she said. “But if you are going to do VR, incorporate it into the shoot and make sure you allow a lot of time for pre-production so you are not making decisions on the fly.

“There are always going to be some decisions on the fly but get really co-ordinated and button down things down.

“Make sure there is enough set and turnover time because it’s a different set-up to TV.”

Ronson described a VR duration of 90 seconds as the “sweet spot” and urged marketers to make the navigation as simple as possible.

“The user experience, particularly when you are using new technology, is really important,” she told delegates. “You feel silly enough putting the goggles on your head. If you then don’t know what to do people will opt out.”

Steve Jones 


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