Our London office recently hosted an event in association with Diverse Interactive, a leading UK immersive content production studio specialising in augmented reality and virtual reality applications. The event saw Chris Elson, AR & VR Content Production Specialist, speak about immersive technology, how it’s becoming more mainstream and how to have the confidence to pitch it into your clients.
What is immersive technology?
Immersive technology is an inclusive term for augmented and virtual reality. Virtual reality being tech that puts you somewhere else and makes you feel as though you’re really there. Augmented reality referring to the layering of digital objects onto the real world and allowing you to interact with these assets. This tech is not new, in fact VR has been around since 2014 when Facebook bought the Oculus headset. Since then, VR has slowly made its way into our everyday lives through Google Cardboard and YouTube and Facebook 360 video. Pretty much all the big players are now releasing headsets and sources are estimating that the immersive technology industry will be worth between $65 and $130 billion by 2020. The AR and VR market is estimated to have surpassed mobile in the next five years as customers are becoming more open to new immersive experiences.
Why should you consider it?
VR and AR represent the next leap forward, fully engaging the customer in the content that they can currently only access through tv or mobile. And it’s no longer a question of if the leap will happen, but when. We already have the technology and devices available to us and we’re living in a mature digital market where the customer is crying out for something new and for richer content experiences. There is a huge opportunity to be one of the first to market as, despite the inevitability of mass market adoption, not that many companies are actually embracing immersive technology. Those that do so now will not only have a competitive advantage but will see great returns, especially in terms of engagement. It’s been shown that engaged customers buy 90% more frequently and spend 60% more per transaction, they are also five times more likely to repeat purchase. So, if you use AR and VR to drive your engagement, you will also be driving customer interaction and in turn driving sales.
How do you embrace it?
The main thing to remember when it comes to immersive technology is that the heavy lifting has already been done by the big players in the industry. All the technology already exists so don’t be intimidated by it. Your role will be content focussed and you should approach the creation in the same way you would for any other content medium. Make sure you are creating an imaginative and useful experience that will actually benefit the customer. Never create content for the sake of content, there must always be a value. Think about the user experience, don’t make it too complex to begin with. Don’t limit yourself to either VR or AR, both can work hand in hand to provide a varied content experience as long as you are committed and take ownership for the project. Not only should you be considering your content creation but also marketing and promotion, your experience can’t be a standalone application and will need support and publicity if it’s going to succeed. You also need to rethink how you will measure that success, think return on engagement rather than investment.
How do you pitch into your clients?
It is key to educate and inspire your clients. The concept of immersive technology will be new to many and the less they know the more fearful they will be of taking the chance. There will always be resistance and objections so it is down to you to demonstrate the benefits. Remember, the technology is already available and there is an existing audience of digital natives that are calling out for unique and exciting content experiences. It’s all about increasing engagement with your customers and immersive technology has been proven to provide unparalleled levels when done well.
We’ve really only just begun to fully explore the use of VR and AR and the market will only get bigger. In terms of VR, headsets will become more affordable and require less powerful PCs and Facebook are busily working away on their VR community integration, meaning we’ll be able to hangout with our friends in a virtual reality world of our own creation. From an AR perspective, Apple are creating their AR glasses and Google Web-AR could revolutionise the industry by taking augmented reality out of the app world. There is no doubt that we are en route to mainstream adoption of immersive technology, so now is the time to embrace it.