It’s a brave new world for technology, which makes life more fun and exciting for users, and creates great new opportunities for marketers.
Technology speeds along at a breakneck pace that is hard for most of us to keep up with, and some developments rise and fall before we ever knew that they existed. But others emerge as the next big thing, and when they do, we have to take notice.
Two of the biggest recent developments are augmented reality and virtual reality. While neither is technically new technology, both have only started to have mainstream use recently.
Here’s what you need to know about augmented reality vs. virtual reality for marketers:
Augmented reality places virtual images or other elements over a real environment.
You can see this in mainstream entertainment with computer-generated images like lions in a music video or huge explosions in action movies. These are things that would not be safe to try to replicate in real life, so CGI is used to create a realistic image.
In gaming, augmented reality took the spotlight when Pokemon Go became a runaway sensation. With this game, people must hunt for Pokemon characters, which appear as cartoons in the actual environment. You have to look through your phone’s camera to see these characters.
While the use of augmented reality for entertainment may seem obvious, it may not be as clear how this can help marketers.
Snapchat has shown marketers how they can use augmented reality to promote their products.
For example, Starbucks recently created a special filter that promoted its new drink. Users could download the filter for free, and it added sparkles and a drink cup to people’s pictures.
Other brands have created special filters and lenses for the social networking site, as well. Since these are free to download, people use and share them widely, which creates more brand recognition for these companies.
Augmented reality creates excellent opportunities for user engagement, which can increase branding and sales opportunities, depending on how you use it.
Pokemon Go also showed marketers that augmented reality offered great opportunities for advertising, even if the augmented reality itself wasn’t used for it.
Marketers were able to take advantage of the popularity of this game to promote special offers and discounts to people visiting their businesses to search for Pokemon characters. For example, some offered a special discount for those on different Pokemon teams or they purchased a lure to attract more Pokemon to their business so that more customers would visit.
You don’t have to use the augmented reality itself for your promotion, but you can take advantage of its popularity to reach customers.
Virtual reality is different than augmented reality, but it shares some of the same qualities. Instead of a few computer-generated elements imposed on an environment, virtual reality is an entirely computer-generated environment.
You have to wear a special headset to engage in virtual reality, and you usually also wear gloves or other accessories that allow the computer to track your movements and translate them to the virtual world.
Virtual reality is starting to become popular with gaming systems, like Occulus Rift, with more games being offered. Virtual and augmented reality are also used in devices like Google Glass, which is a personal assistive device.
Marketers are still exploring how to use virtual reality to their advantage since this technology is still relatively new and has not become as popular in its use. Virtual reality is still pretty niche, with most uses contained to gaming.
In the future, we envision more marketing being incorporated into the virtual world. It may be that advertisements pop up at designated intervals in the game, or marketers may start producing fully immersive commercials where users can actually try out a product or service in the virtual world.
Marketers could also invest in product placements just the way they would for a movie or television show. For example, you could find yourself using Beats headphones in your game or drinking a virtual Pepsi.
The opportunities are rich since virtual reality would create the ultimate user experience. You don’t have to worry about user engagement. The ads and messages would be available in “real life.”
The full extent of how virtual and augmented reality will be (or could be) used in the future is yet to be seen. The technology will continue to develop, and users will shape the way it is implemented by how they respond to and engage with it.
What you can do right now is start educating yourself about ways that people are using the technology now and research ways that you can be a part of it. Pokemon Go and Snapchat are some great examples of how marketers are embracing the technology. Get in on these early ventures to make yourself an expert on the technology as it evolves.