Advertisers Are in for a (Virtual) Reality Check on Marketing’s Hottest Opportunity

According to a new report from Warc, new developments in Virtual Reality — and Augmented Reality — will offer exciting ways for brands to engage emotionally with consumers in 2017.

“VR, which immerses consumers in a 360-degree digital environment, most commonly experienced via a headset, and AR, the integration of the real-world environment with computer-generated digital information, have been identified in Warc’s Toolkit 2017, produced in association with Deloitte Digital, as key marketing trends which marketers will be looking to in the coming year,” according to Warc.

Interestingly, an in-depth from MAW subsequently found, retail and travel brands have been early adopters of VR. In fact, virtual reality could remake the e-commerce sector, leading to a decrease in product returns, and it has significant potential in the travel, hospitality, design, education, engineering, and healthcare industries.

“In the travel sector, the technology gives would-be travelers a taste of their possible destinations, hotel facilities, and rooms,” notes the report summary. “Shopping could become one of VR’s top applications, allowing connected consumers to experience a full retail environment from their own home.”

VR and AR are not new technologies — but 2016 witnessed their emergence as bona fide marketing platforms.

“A lot of money is now going towards VR in particular as brands seek fresh ways to engage consumers,” said David Tiltman, Warc’s Head of Content. “As the advertising marketplace becomes more cluttered and many people opt out of receiving marketing messages, brand experiences that can cut through are increasingly valuable.”

All told, the value of VR and AR is predicted to hit $150 billion by 2020.