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If ever an endorsement of a major new tech trend was needed, it couldn’t have come much louder than Facebook’s 2014 $2 billion acquisition of virtual reality (VR) company Oculus VR. In a deal hammered out in just two short weeks, Facebook strategically positioned themselves to, in Zuckerberg’s words, “start building the next major computing platform that will come after mobile.” With mobile ad income cited as a major revenue earner (and turnaround) for the platform, this move should be taken as a clear indication that there’s money in the VR business.
But what does this mean for marketers?
First of all, it removes many of the last perceived barriers to online purchasing and interaction. While companies like Amazon and Google Express continue on their path to minimize the time between ordering and delivery, augmented and virtual reality technology is set to play a crucial step in the pre-purchase conversion cycle.
For example, instead of trying to sell the benefits of a high-tech solution to a complex problem with reams of text and videos (though still important), it’s now possible to provide the potential customer with an actual user experience, however disembodied it may be. And the opportunities are truly endless: from trying on clothes to testing out cars to seeing what a particular seat in a stadium will actually be like, augmented reality brings it all one step closer.
So are there any Google Glass-type flies in the ointment? Currently, extra hardware is needed to gain the fully immersive virtual reality experience. But as the WSJ reports, Facebook is working on a standalone app that would support 360-degree videos, which is hoped will drive mass adoption of VR. Additionally, Google’s YouTube has created a way for advertisers to use 360-degrees ad formats.
Ultimately, this is another indication of how fast the marketing and communications landscape is changing, and how important it is to stay informed, and – whenever possible – one step ahead. What would a virtual reality marketing experience look like for your products or services? What would your optimum experience for your customers be? If you need assistance getting ready for the next paradigm shift in communications, please get in touch.
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