Virtual, Augmented or Mixed: Which Reality Will You Choose?

By Camille Blanchard, VP, Head of Innovation, West Cary Group

We live in an age where emerging technologies with unheard-of marketing potential are at our disposal. Virtual Reality (VR), Augmented Reality (AR) and Mixed Reality (MR) are among these technologies changing the way we view and interact with the world. To help our clients maintain their cutting-edge brand positions, WCG Innovation (WCGi) is partnering with them to help establish strategies that take advantage of these new resources. 

The fact is the digital landscape is evolving at lightning speed. Several major companies have already made substantial moves in enhanced reality. Last year, Facebook spent $2 billion to acquire American virtual reality tech company Oculus VR. With the introduction of Google Cardboard, Google is setting the stage for AR to become an accessible everyday technology. And if you’ve seen any demos of Microsoft HoloLens, an MR device, you know that holographic computing is here. 

As more consumers comfortably interact with enhanced reality devices, it creates endless opportunities for brands to engage with their users through full-sized installations and mobile apps. West Cary Group sees tremendous potential in this emerging technology and has forged partnerships with best-in-class programmers, editors and hardware suppliers to allow us to advise our clients on effective ways to create positive user experiences and lasting brand impressions.

So what makes these alternative realities so alluring for powerhouse brands and innovative marketers? A few things:

  1. Visual content has been proven to drive engagement. According to Simply Measured, one month after Facebook introduced timeline for brands, visual content saw a 65 percent increase in engagement. That’s not surprising when you consider that 80 percent of the information the brain takes in is visual. As marketers, we’d be foolish not to capitalize on viable tools that can deepen brand attachments.  
  2. VR, AR and MR offer the chance to rethink the art of storytelling. These realities permit the creator to curate non-linear digital yarns, spin engrossing, interactive tales and create whole worlds where stories are only as limited as the imagination. It’s a whole new environment in which to play, explore content and do what marketers always do with content – make it king.
  3. Applications presently abound. From gaming to education to science/tech, these technologies are being used to heighten and enhance user experiences. Formerly considered for highly niche applications, VR and AR have branched out to become a successful immersive platform for brands. In fact, as recently as November 2015, The New York Times mailed 1 million cardboard devices to Sunday subscribers in order to make immersive content more accessible and mainstream.
  4. They close the gap between consumer and point of purchase. It’s true that these emerging technologies give consumers an opportunity to fully experience a brand. But, ultimately, consumers decide whether or not to take the journey. When they choose to engage, it means they’re actively seeking a deeper connection with a brand in a space where a buying decision can be made. This opportunity is huge for marketers progressive enough to capitalize on it.

Needless to say, there’s a lot of money in marketing investment and revenue generation at stake – Digi-Capital predicts $150 billion for the latter by 2020. So for marketers, the question becomes not whether you should make a play, but where.

WCGi is reading the writing on the wall and building up our own tech foundation accordingly. We’d love to show you a demo of what we’ve been up to. Let’s talk and discover how we can apply emerging technology to solve some of your marketing challenges for 2016 – and beyond.

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