Reality is Virtual: Marketing Digitally in 2016 and Beyond
The forecasting question of all marketers right now is “What roles will Virtual Reality technology play going into the future?” Forward looking companies have already dedicated millions of dollars of their marketing budgets to find profitable applications for the emerging technology. Most notably this past week with the NCAA Championship basketball games. Turner Broadcasting’s heavy investment in jointly televising the game with CBS didn’t live up to the expectations despite nonstop advertising of available live streams in VR. The viewership was down 37% from 2015 and the streaming VR didn’t help pad the numbers or soften the blow. Certainly there will be countless studies attempting to identify the factors that led to the disappointing level of interest and users, but it was a bold move forward and will benchmark the future projects for any marketers considering the thus unproven but rapidly developing technology to consumers.
HTC pioneered the technology successfully in 2015 with a healthy buzz, Google Cardboard and a few other impressive applications readily available to consumers at little to no cost and a short learning curve. Competitor Samsung is attempting to raise the stakes and profitability of the technology but may be more conservative in rolling out major programs after the lackluster numbers came in from Oculus Rift’s partnering with Facebook and Turner Broadcasting for the NCAA Championship game last night. HTC meanwhile is poised to continue its slow but steady growing of dedicated VR users with their forthcoming Vive device so more major ventures are surely coming and will be followed closely as an industry “leader” has yet to breakaway from the competition in the expanding field.
The excitement and buzz are still present, but average consumers seem to be waiting for that perfect storm of cost, convenience, ease of use and a widespread use that plays on the fear of missing out, or a “viral” application of the technology that dominates the global discussion and fans the flames of demand into an inferno of usership. We will continue to monitor the newest uses and events as well, but for now the answer to the tech question of the year, “What roles will VR play in digital marketing through 2016?” Although the sports entertainment missed the mark last night with their play, other industries will continue striving to be the success that sets the curve for all others utilizing VR. In a consumer reality that is heavily based on virtual projections, only time will tell what its leading role will be.