When we talk about terms like Augmented Reality, Virtual Reality and Mixed Reality, the first thought that strikes many of us are science fiction films where technology takes over to bring out real life experience on screen. Nowadays, this technology completely blends in with our daily lives. Real Estate, video games, medicine, education, we can see its growing intervention in these areas. Similarly these technologies are the new realities for marketing, and this is here to stay!
Virtual reality was born in 1987. Augmented reality as a term was born in 1992. Now, these terms have become mainstream and that is before we talk about 360-video, mixed reality and extended reality. The evolution of VR, AR and MR started in 1835 when a device called the stereoscope was created, it had goggles that you could wear with lenses and duplicate images that would give the user the illusion that he was being transported into another reality or space. To cut the long story short, when a user immerses in a fully artificial digital environment it is called Virtual Reality. Augmented Reality overlays virtual objects on the real time environment. When virtual objects are anchored into the real world it becomes Mixed Reality.
Virtual Reality (VR), Augmented Reality (AR) and Mixed Reality (MR) are the biggest disruptors to ever hit the marketing industry. Coupled with the integration of Artificial Intelligence, Deep Learning and Machine Learning, a sea of opportunity is created for the future. Nowadays companies are going beyond the simple marketing tactics or the repetitive pop up ads. Instead they are opting for communication tools that enable them to directly engage with their target audience. The need to be more engaging and immersive has given rise to brands using gimmicks like AR, VR, and MR to seamlessly connect with their target audience. Medicine, culture, education and architecture are some of the areas that have already taken advantage of this technology.
Let’s probe in deeper to see the 6 ways in which these technologies will lure the users/consumers into a web of conviction thus transforming how marketing is done in these times:
1. Data: Understanding consumer behaviour with VR becomes much easier and gives a full picture of consumer needs, buying patterns etc. AR on the other hand, shows how consumers interact with and use products.
2.Storytelling: A fundamental change in storytelling is happening with VR enabling marketer to branch narratives to direct the story. More than storytelling, new testing grounds for ‘story living’ is paving the way. This quality of storytelling will build a much deeper emotional connection.
Experiential Marketing: Marketers are already attempting to entice users by creating emotional experience. By utilizing AR and VR, marketers can literally simulate the purchase-friendly reality they wish the user to experience. This also enables brands to close the loop between print and digital by elevating real world messages with digital interactions thus increasing engagement time. For eg: Brands like Marriot have already implemented a VR experience into their digital marketing strategy with their “Transporters”, which enables users to virtually travel to Marriott locations around the world
3. Brand Experience: A touch of virtual components takes a simple business card or brochures to another level. By using AR, users are enabled to scan printed materials from their mobile devices and access the features thus giving them access to get in contact with the brand.
4. Personalized Marketing: With AR, VR and MR marketing will become more integrated into our daily lives. Real time data based on user preference can be used to modify effects, messaging, colours, timing and placement.
5. Brand Interaction: Because it is a new field there is a lot of room for creativity. AR, VR and MR enable greater interaction and encourage engagement between the consumer and the company, creating a relationship that is more than just marketing, typically creating brand loyalists.
These new technologies are creating a pull for the potential customer to make their purchase decision. Augmented promotions, virtual instruction guides, augmented pop ups are the new trends replacing old methods. The rise of AR, VR and MR will definitely be course-changing for SEO specialists and their content strategies. These technologies need to be considered while developing SEO strategies for brands since with the growing popularity we can expect the search engines to adjust their algorithms thereby enhancing the search experience for users. Hence using content that is compatible with these technologies could potentially improve search ranking.