Digital Marketing in a Virtual Future

The Impact of Augmented and Virtual Reality on Advertising

Virtual/Augmented reality has vast marketing potential. This imaginary world will create very real experiences, connecting businesses and consumers like never before.

Look around and you’ll see the dawn of a golden age in digital marketing. Data from the Commercial Integrator includes some impressive figures:

  • The digital signage market sat at $21 billion in 2017 and is projected to hit $32 billion by 2023

  • Digital ads will make gains of 18.3 percent in 2019

  • Digital out-of-home (OOH) ads will dominate advertising with a 54 percent audience attention share, outstripping the 31 percent held by television

  • 76 percent of integrators will be utilizing digital marketing this year

Digital is advertising’s present and future. And it’s a role that will only expand and evolve into something completely new as virtual and augmented realities (AR/VR) start  to create incredibly powerful experiences for consumers.

The roots of augmented and virtual advertising

Virtual reality (a wholly digital experience apart from the real world) and augmented reality (the addition of digital elements to a real-world view, as seen in the popular Pokémon Go app) are still in their early phases. There’s no doubt, however, that both will play a key role in boosting the digital signage market by $11 billion in the next four years.

The drive toward VR/AR is powered by the preferences of Millennials and Gen Z. These two demographics are ready to spend $350 billion, making them the largest commercial target group in the world. And virtual and augmented sales materials are already very attractive to these age groups:

“25% of [these] mobile prodigies were looking for product discovery and purchase possibilities from VR, and 23% put AR on their wish list for digital shopping. Furthermore, among those that want AR, millennials led Gen Z by eight percentage points.”

VR/AR has the power to make unprecedented advertising connections, setting the technology apart from common and predominantly passive marketing approaches. Think of it this way: Digital advertising is now dwarfing television. And VR/AR will do for digital what digital is about to do to TV.

Experiential marketing takes center stage

The tag “digital marketing” will likely give way to “experiential marketing” as these two technologies evolve. Even the most eye-catching digital signs on 2-D media won’t be able to compete with the immersion VR/AR will offer. Take the travel sector, for example: Consider these images of big, bold and innovative digital signage from around the world. They’re impactful, but can any of them compete with the kind of transporting VR engagement Marriott has offered customers? Check it out:

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For fashion retailers, augmented reality can let shoppers “wear” an item or apply make-up rather than merely browsing a website. AR-enabled mirrors and digital fitting rooms immerse clothing and cosmetic customers in the products. Almost 70 percent of consumers expect stores to implement augmented reality in some form, 61 percent prefer stores that do, and are 40 percent more likely to make the purchase if AR was part of the consideration process.

Stepping into a pair of Nike’s took on a new dimension last year when stores in China deployed Reactland. This digital experience projects shoppers onto big screens and takes them running through fantastic scenarios while adding elements of gamification. Gamification is an important element, since that’s where VR first connected with most of the public and Millennials prize gaming as an experience.

Why signage has the edge on headsets

VR is attractive to consumers, but the headsets that often make it possible aren’t as well-received. Negative effects from current models like causing eye strain and nausea in some wearers make shoppers less likely to put on a headset if it’s offered to them in a retail environment. This is where digital signage may have the edge in creating an immersive virtual/augmented reality experience. Consumers can be surrounded by digital signs and screens of all sizes and be fully engaged while avoiding the side effects of close-proximity visual stimulation.

Reaching the masses, one at a time

Samsung, General Motors, and Pepsi have all tested the waters of VR/AR digital advertising in the recent past. Investment in the tech and successful marketing efforts from corporate giants like these will only create further demand.

VR/AR in digital displays immerses consumers and brings marketers and their audience closer. In effect, they become part of the campaign. It’s that close connection which businesses have been seeking since advertising began – and the next few years seem poised to finally make it a (virtual) reality.

At Zero-In we’re passionate about creating digital experiences for the real world. Our award-winning agency includes web application specialists, motion graphic designers, computer and audiovisual hardware engineers, and network specialists. You can chat with us live on our site or click the contact form on the bottom right of any page.