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Virtual Reality: The Ultimate Form of “Immersive Marketing”

18 January 2017

Hold onto your headsets, says Mark Miles, CEO of Rendermedia, fresh back from the demonstrating his wares at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. A technology is about to leap out of your games console and into your marketing campaigns.

The term “immersive marketing” has been gaining traction in the last year or two – signifying when marketers surround targeted consumers through a strategic blend of on and offline techniques. But waiting in the wings is the ultimate manifestation of “immersion” – physically and emotionally engaging with a brand through virtual reality. And this technology could blow apart how we currently market products.

VR has been around since the late 70s, but it’s only now that the technology is starting to offer up a rich seam of possibilities in the worlds beyond gaming and architecture. That’s because it’s not just a technical stage on from its predecessors, but a giant leap in terms of emotional engagement and customer response.

VR is not just about converting CAD files and converting it into 3D so it looks more real and interesting. It’s about taking the user on an immersive journey and telling them a story that they feel part of. And every marketer will know that engaging with a brand is the Holy Grail.

Inevitably, the technology has been used first in big-ticket contexts. We recently completed a project for Airbus where visitors to their stand at Farnborough Airshow were able to test out seven different experiences – from travelling across the surface of Mars to soaring 70,000 feet above the Earth to sitting in the cockpit of a plane swooping several over the Brecon Beacons. You could help unload emergency supplies from a helicopter in a disaster zone, or sit next to the pilot as he landed an A350 at Eastern City airport.

At the beginning of 2017, we were invited to showcase three of the programmes on HTC’s stand at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas – a real demonstration that smaller creative businesses like ours can be at the cutting edge of this frontier technology.

 “Rendermedia provided a critical component to delivering an immersive VR experience and building out the ever-growing Vive ecosystem,” adds Dan O’Brien, VP Virtual Reality, HTC VIVE.

“We built Vive to deliver the most immersive, room-scale VR experience on the market today. Companies like Rendermedia are helping us meet this vision.”

The immersion technique we applied for Airbus instantly overcomes the logistical challenges of how you get people to test out very large products in anything other than real life. Paul Hannah, Creative director of Future Concepts at Airbus, was kind enough to say: “At Airbus we are always looking for innovative new ways to communicate with our customers. VR gives us a chance to engage with them directly and to experience the Airbus story.”

“Engage”, “experience”, “story”… these are three of the primary concepts that brand gurus will weave into their presentations when they make a pitch, and this is what VR delivers by the truckload.

Want to try out the latest top end motorcar without leaving your chair? Strap in. If you like the experience, you can stay where you are and customise the vehicle interior to your precise requirements. Boat and yacht makers have a constant issue around building vessels to the spec their customers provide – only to find them changing what they’ve built when delivery day arrives. With VR, you are infinitely closer to the end product, so fewer changes and happier customers.

Looking to sell an apartment or house off plan? Take your prospective purchaser on a VR tour around their new home... check out the view from the balcony, see just how large the rooms are, choose your fixtures and fittings even before the builders have got the foundations in. Put the “sold” sticker on those property details.

The possibilities are endless, from choosing clothes online and seeing yourself wearing them in a mirror through to checking out how your dream kitchen will really look when you walk around it – and everything in between.

With costs coming down all the time, this technology can now be applied to products and services way less expensive than a plane, boat or automobile. If you want to stand out from the crowd, virtual reality will be the place to be in the next couple of years. So if you want to be in the vanguard, rather than the rear, or the next big thing in marketing, why not get in touch and ask what we could do for YOUR brand?