Table Of Contents
- What are modern digital marketing realities?
- What is the distinction between AR and VR?
- What is a virtual being?
- Why is it important to concentrate on innovative marketing realities?
- Why should PR professionals incorporate virtual reality and augmented reality into their campaigns?
- What are some of the ways AR/VR is attracting the attention of PR professionals recently?
- Could VR work as an alternative to traditional pitch emails?
- What are some internal communication improvements that could be made by VR/AR?
The term "augmented reality" isn't just a catchphrase. Virtual reality (VR) has been labeled "the next big thing" in consumer technology for quite some time. VR has been used in a number of high-profile products and experiences over the years, despite its association with futuristic and unreleased innovations. The View-Master simulator from the 1930s, The Sensorium “4-D” amusement park ride from the 1980s, and the Nintendo Virtual Boy gaming console from the 1990s are all notable examples.
When it comes to VR use case studies, public relations aren’t usually the first thing that comes to mind; instead, film, video games, and other forms of entertainment usually come first. However, VR could play a prominent role in public relations, particularly in terms of presenting visually stimulating stories to audiences who are already glued to their screens. Similarly, augmented reality (AR) could be used in future PR marketing campaigns.
Due to pandemic disruptions, diversity movements, and social alienation, digital marketers are confronted with new realities. Everything has turned marketing on its head in the last several months, from virtual environments to micro-messaging to digital producers to platform targeting.
Defining Digital Marketing Realities
Virtual reality (VR), augmented reality (AR), mixed reality (MR), machine learning, and now virtual beings are all terms that digital marketers should become acquainted with as quickly as possible.
They've swiftly established themselves as one of the most accessible means of marketing, communicating, engaging, and teaching. Although VR and AR are frequently used interchangeably, there is a key distinction to be made:
• Virtual Reality
Virtual reality should be a comprehensive experience created by a computer. Some VR providers use headsets connected to a computer to achieve this level of immersion. This is the approach taken by both the Oculus Rift and the Nintendo Famicom. Virtual reality is also available on smartphones and computers.
• Augmented Reality
Augmented reality is the layering of computer-generated images on top of the real world. Explanatory imagery superimposed on some sporting event broadcasts is a simple example. The Apple iPhone X can graft emojis onto human faces captured in real-time by its front-facing cameras, making it an AR device.
• Mixed Reality
Mixed reality, often known as spatial computing, is a hybrid kind of reality that combines a virtual and physical world.
• Machine Learning
The simulation of human intelligence in machines that are programmed to think and act like humans is known as machine learning. An example could be having a two-way human-like conversation via messaging to solve a health problem.
• Virtual Being
A virtual being is a character with whom you can have a two-way emotional relationship despite the fact that you know they aren't real.
Consider having Biz Stone, the founder of Twitter, speak at your next event or having Deepak Chopra lead a meditation for you. The catch is that it's not them who's doing it; it's their Virtual Being.
As part of their influencer marketing strategy, brands and marketers can now create a virtual being, a computer-generated being programmed to be completely relatable to your buyer persona.
Why is it important to concentrate on innovative marketing realities?
• The e-commerce industry has been revolutionized
When going to the mall for retail therapy isn't an option, AR and social media platforms like Snapchat can help. In the midst of a global health crisis, augmented reality empowers marketers and brands to thrive without endangering consumers.
For example, Gucci recently used the power and style of augmented reality to launch its first-ever shoe-try-on lens with Snapchat. Simply scan the promo shop code to gain access to the most up-to-date footwear fashion trends.
• Engagement is a novel type of close encounter.
In this era of social distancing, quarantine, and beyond, AR and VR make engaging with your audience possible. Without a physical audience, brands can entertain, educate, and launch virtual concerts, fashion shows, and augmented tours with ease.
For example Wave, a social music venue hosted John Legend's first virtual live concert. The virtual concert drew over 500,000 people and raised awareness for Legend's FREE AMERICA campaign, which aims to change the criminal justice system in the United States.
• Storytelling goes 3D & immersive
While all these current marketing technologies may appear intimidating at first but your favorite companies and brands have already been incorporating them into their strategies. Facebook, especially, has made it simple to get started with immersive content.
On a mobile device, try turning 3D photo images or panorama images into 360 images. National Geographic takes a small step for mankind and a giant step for AR by using immersive storytelling and AR to climb the world's highest mountain.
• Developing relationships
Getting up close and personal with your audience is key to connecting with them. According to experts, the future of fitness (or any industry) is all about creating meaningful content, connecting with customers, building loyalty, and, most importantly, immersive relationships.
Why should PR professionals incorporate virtual reality and augmented reality into their campaigns?
Their reasoning starts with the longer and more intense engagement that VR/AR can provide due to its multisensory and immersive effects.
According to a 2016 survey conducted by YuMe and Nielsen, VR-based content had a 34 % growth engagement rate than the content presented on flat surfaces such as traditional screens. On the same metric, they outperformed 3-D videos as well.
The captive audience effect on anyone seeking a VR/AR experience could account for these findings. VR headsets and AR viewers, unlike phones and tablets, do not allow for multitasking, resulting in fewer distractions.
As a result, a well-crafted PR message or even a pitch should have a better chance of making an impression than an email, video, or slide deck that may get lost in the shuffle.
VR and AR are already being utilized by media outlets and PR agencies. The New York Times and USA Today have both released virtual reality applications that allow readers to "go inside" their stories.
These apps, in particular, are compatible with headsets but do not require them, allowing them to reach far greater audiences than if they were tied to specific hardware.
One public relations consultant noted a similar mass-market approach by Facebook, which began selling 360-degree video ads in late 2015 and landed Nestle, and Samsung as launch partners in an overview for the Public Relations Society of America.
VR/AR applications in the public relations, marketing, and advertisement industry
Beyond improved editorial content and ad copy, the dynamic duo of VR and AR offers a plethora of other unique opportunities for reinventing advertising marketing and PR strategies.
Most of these ways are used by almost all of the best advertising agencies around the globe. Let's take a look at a few that have piqued the interest of professionals in recent years:
• Creating Ad Experiences That Are More Personalized
Humans are obsessed with experiences above all else. They immerse us in the narrative and make it feel personal. Virtual reality and augmented reality both allow for personalized ad experiences that are unique to each individual.
One of marketing's "holy grails" is programmatic advertising, messaging, and marketing at the individual level, and this future will soon be a part of our daily lives.
• Increasing the public's perception of organizations by making them more relatable and tangible.
The general public is familiar with PR materials such as mailers, press releases, and videos to the point where they may only skim them if they look at them at all. Virtual reality, on the other hand, opens up new and exciting possibilities, such as virtual tours and fireside chats.
Viewing static content can feel inauthentic and impersonal, whereas dynamic experiences can feel more immediate and personalized. For example, a guided VR exploration through virtual rooms could get someone curious about a company's culture and values and give them a unique in-depth look at corporate headquarters.
An executive, represented by an animated sprite, could also give a speech in front of a backdrop that changes in response to the presentation's topics. Similar VR experiences have already been launched by Marriott and the North Face.
Viewers may feel more connected to organizations as a result of this VR-enhanced PR approach. AR offers a similar set of possibilities.
• Social Shopping with a Splash of Elegance
The time has come for AR and VR to shine. These technologies are being incorporated into social media, bringing the social shopping experience to new heights.
Snapchat is leading the way, and it's investing heavily to make augmented reality shopping a reality. This is the next step in social media marketing, as these innovations have the potential to improve the online shopping experience.
• In-person events are being phased out in favor of virtual engagements
This world is evolving to serve as a sort of stand-in for live events and conferences. Virtual events, as we've seen over the last year, didn't have the traction we anticipated. With advances in VR technology, it is expected to make its way into the event industry, replacing the need for travel while providing true "personal" engagement opportunities.
• Incorporating augmented reality codes and objects into public spaces
On the AR front, the use of discoverable and interactive items puts something that AR technology is already proven to be good at – gamification – to work in the service of PR brand building.
To encourage the public to participate in AR-enabled campaigns, a public relations professional could create scannable QR codes or use the specific features of a platform like Snapchat.
In October 2017, Snapchat tried out an augmented reality project in Central Park. Snapchat users were able to see animated Jeff Koons sculptures seemingly all over the park via the mobile app. These events could also be used to make public announcements by encouraging a large turnout and participation.
• Experiential Marketing in the Virtual World
One of the most important aspects of virtual reality is that it expands the possibilities for new experiences. You can imagine yourself driving the car, being a part of an event, or having access to a new experience using virtual reality. This will become increasingly the case in the future, ensuring that you have a more personalized relationship with the brand.
• Brand Interactions And App Integrations In AR/VR
Many people are hesitant to interact with brands at major shopping malls and expos as a result of the coronavirus, and AR/VR is ready to pick up the slack. AR/VR brand interactions can now be considered alongside online product listings and reviews.
It would be foolish to dismiss this futuristic technology as far-fetched, given that top tech players like Google are integrating AR into nearly all apps.
• Inventing new ways to pitch ideas
Mastering the PR pitch can be a difficult art. Many PR pitches are too long, generic, or poorly written to catch the attention of a typical media professional, who may receive over a hundred per week. Could virtual reality provide a more compelling alternative to the traditional pitch email?
At the very least, it has the potential to revolutionize pitching. Journalists are increasingly looking for visual content in pitches, such as infographics, custom images, and videos.
These additions are often more effective at capturing and maintaining attention than a wall of email text or even a set of bullet points. Virtual reality experiences could be the next step in the evolution of the medium.
They're also a natural fit for media outlets that are already experimenting with virtual reality, augmented reality, and 360-degree video.
The plethora of inexpensive options for VR viewing, from smartphones to contraptions like Google Cardboard, that both the media and consumers have embraced, further enhance the exchange of VR-enhanced pitches.
• More VR/AR gaming audiences will be targeted
As with any type of marketing, there are marketing opportunities once there is a large enough audience. Although VR/AR has the potential to attract large audiences in the future, this is not the case with things like gaming right now.
Experts predict that nearly 60 million people in the United States will use virtual reality (VR) and more than 90 million people will use augmented reality (AR) at least once a month by the end of 2021.
Apart from using technology to experience brands in new ways, this already represents a significant opportunity.
• Hybridized Experiences Will Continue To Be Adopted
People will continue to have hybridized virtual and in-person experiences in their lives and at work, including group events such as concerts, shows, and other experiences, which will make virtual and augmented reality more relevant.
Because of the continued adoption of virtual experiences, brands and advertisers can use virtual and augmented reality to provide something new and engaging to their customers.
• Developing a company's technological prowess
VR/AR has mostly been a fascination of technologists, early adopters, and some writers throughout its history. While virtual reality and augmented reality are gradually entering the mainstream and reaching a wider audience, these key influencer-heavy constituencies remain critical in raising awareness of potential applications and charting the technology's future.
By connecting with these audiences, businesses can appear to be tech-savvy, resulting in valuable coverage from influential websites and publications.
Banks aren't typically thought of as forerunners in consumer and enterprise technology. However, combining PR and VR can help them project a tech-savvy image to the public and reach audiences who might have previously dismissed them as outdated.
• Internal communication improvements
To stay in touch, PR professionals use a variety of applications. Email, Slack, and Skype have become commonplace communication tools, but solutions with VR/AR capabilities may eventually replace them.
Videoconferencing, which is often bundled within unified communications suites, is one common platform that is ripe for a VR challenge.
The market for videoconferencing is large and growing. Between 2016 and 2025, it is expected to more than double in value, reaching $8.9 billion, according to Transparency Market Research. At the same time, it can be costly and difficult to manage, as it necessitates a large amount of network bandwidth and specialized hardware.
With less hassle and a friendlier user interface, virtual reality may be able to deliver a similar or even superior experience.
According to the Intel, Dell, and Penn Schoen Berland Future Workforce Survey 2016, two-thirds of respondents – including 77% of millennials – would be willing to use VR/AR technology for work-related conversations.
Many of the benefits of a videoconference (e.g., face-to-face time) would be available in a VR meeting, as well as more options for interaction and customization during the meeting.
• Pre-decision-making processes with more power
The virtual reality and augmented reality (VR/AR) movement has given PR and marketing “wings,” so to speak. It enables a data-driven, scientific approach to both strategy and the resulting result.
The pre-decision-making process is aided by AI, which accurately places consumer sentiment. It takes the right mix of EQ and IQ, which is why a reputable agency with a lot of experience can add a lot of value to a company's VR and AR marketing efforts.
Advertising agencies are still in the exploration phase of this journey of finding the full potential and use of AR and VR in the marketing and advertising industry, but one clear thing is that the possibilities are endless, and it is going to take time. But it is always better to join upon the journey in the beginning phases rather than missing out on the opportunity on the whole.
This is it for today’s blog. I hope you enjoyed reading it and that some of your queries about the use of virtual reality in PR were answered and the confusion cleared. If you still have any questions, reach out to me and I will get back to you as soon as I can.
If you want your business to take the center stage and reach a greater audience, you will need to incorporate advanced PR techniques because older ways are being overexploited and you definitely need a differentiating factor that would set you apart.
We at Prism Digital, the best PR and branding agency in Dubai, are well equipped to create and execute top-notch PR strategies tailored only for your business. Get in touch with us and let’s get to work.
About The Author: Lovetto Nazareth
Lovetto Nazareth is a digital marketing consultant and agency owner of Prism Digital. He has been in the advertising and digital marketing business for the last 2 decades and has managed thousands of campaigns and generated millions of dollars of new leads. He is an avid adventure sports enthusiast and a singer-songwriter. Follow him on social media on @Lovetto Nazareth