The engagement era: how AR & VR will reshape brand & consumer connection

Content marketing is about to explode because of Mixed Reality - a mix of virtual and augmented reality tech. Ahead of his seminar at this Thursday's Entertainment Marketing Summit, James Towers reveals why marketers need to take note.

Consumer advertising experience actually matters. Who would of thought that constantly bombarding an audience with (mostly) lame advertising and never really giving much care for how engaging it was would wear thin?

Consumers today can avoid a brand’s advances better than they ever have before and their attention is scattered and fleeting.

We as marketers got lazy with the rise of digital and just went for ad placement in front of eyeballs in essentially the same manner we’ve been trying to get in front of consumers for decades, same tactics but on a new medium.

Then came the ‘content marketing’ era where we started to realise we could potentially own the content that consumers wanted to spend their time with. We’ve done okay at that, some better than others, but not all bad.

Well that content marketing era isn’t even close to being over. It’s about to explode thanks to Mixed Reality or MR. Let’s call it MR because it’s a mix of virtual and augmented reality tech and it’s about to see content marketing go nuts.

MR tech will see the most engaging time in marketing since that moment we all gathered around the black-and-white TV as a family and watched the ads*.

By and large most of the marketing messaging we see today is geared towards getting the consumer to head in store, test drive, go online, switch, watch or visit somewhere we want them to.

The world of MR lets that potential consumer engage with your product, destination or service in the most realistic way ever possible apart from a free trial or experiential experience.

Just think about this for a minute. MR could completely change the way we see the sales funnel because the content will be so incredibly realistic and engaging that people will be able to engage with almost the exact experience you might be selling.

That’s a big deal and any marketer with an experience to offer who isn’t thinking in some way about their brand, their ideal consumer and the virtual revolution upon us should be planning retirement.

Forced or voluntary, but retirement nonetheless. The game is about to move fast and story telling and content now has the opportunity to be incredibly engaging for the consumer.james-towers-ar-mobile-phone-in-app-screen

VR or AR?

Before June this year VR was the new black. I’ve been a firm believer that most of that VR chat was the result of a hype cycle fuelled by some of the world’s biggest brands investing and talking up their VR vision. Facebook, Samsung and Google to name a few are pushing hard because they want a slice of the VR device market.

So what happened in June 2016? Well, a little AR game called Pokémon Go came out and within a week it had more active users than Twitter.

That certainly balanced the scales because what has always been VR’s issue was device uptake.

AR experiences can run from the humble smart phone and the saturation of smartphones in the first world paved the way for instant, insane, mass-adoption of Pokémon Go. Let’s be honest, Pokémon Go wasn’t even that good. But the way it spread thanks to smartphone penetration was a wake-up call to the naysayers of AR.

In all honestly VR and AR will both be game changers and it’s now up to marketers to realise that the large majority of customer experience may sit in the virtual worlds.

The best part is that right now, there is a huge MR content gap. That’s another thing to deeply consider, a content gap. In 2016 we are making more content in a day than we made since the start of human history right through to 2003 and I’m now telling you there is a new content gap. Any marketer would be mad to not consider a MR strategy starting with low investment testing and scaling up over the next few years.

Things might finally be about to get truly engaging.

*I’m 32 and thus never gathered around a black and white TV but I do fondly remember watching Hey Hey It’s Saturday with my family in full colour. We still watched the ads back then.

What do you think about the rapid rise of AR & VR? How do you think this will impact the advertising, media & entertainment industries? Come chat with me at the Mumbrella Entertainment Marketing Summit on Thursday November10.

James Towers is head of agency at Kwickie and founding partner of 16K Agency.


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