Let’s start with some obvious marketing axioms:
What Will Not Change: Advertise Where People Are
One of the first things you're taught in Marketing 101 is that you identify your audience, and advertise where they are and in a manner receptive to that audience. Yet this basic tenet often gets lost among the cubicles of Ad agencies and the spreadsheets of (often irrelevant) data. A recent article at thedrum.com stated that “[advertisements] on social media now influence 50 percent of US millennial's buying decisions.“, citing a November 2015 study published by Deloitte Digital Democracy. (Which also supports the old saying, 50% of all marketing is wasted - the question is, which half?)
Was this finding a surprise? Not at all, in the ‘80’s when kids were glued to the TV, that was the most obvious place to bombard them with advertisements. In the 40's radio was king, and that is where many companies found their audience.
With the steady rise of both VR viewers and content, it is only logical that marketing spend will soon need to be shift sizable portions of their budget to virtual reality content. Go where the viewers are; and they are very rapidly shifting to online viewing over television.,
What Will Not Change: Advertising needs to be compelling and memorable
Why are Ad blockers becoming more popular? More and more consumers are so sick of having ads crammed into every nook and cranny of a webpage, that they will go out of their way and even pay to install an ad blocker to make it stop. Yet, once a year, those same people look forward to watching the commercials during the Super Bowl and they become the water cooler discussions for a week following. Why this annual reversal? The ads they put on during the Super Bowl are well done and entertaining. Everyone wants to watch them.
If marketing is to be successful in virtual reality, the same principal applies. If you are going to interrupt someone’s virtual experience of majestic lions on the Serengeti or riding in a space roller coaster with aliens shooting at them, make it worth their while and show them a product they would want to buy.
Thoughts About VR Advertising
As advertising starts to dabble in the VR universe, it will be important not to “turn off” consumers. As well, from the business side, it is equally important that the marketing is effective and generates enough return on investment to make it worthwhile. Discovery Communications has recently announced it will actively use advertisements to raise revenue in its VR platform. The real interesting tidbit is their push of Discovery Brand Studios. “Since Discovery owns its own content, Discovery Brand Studios has the flexibility to produce highly engaging original content that integrates advertisers in unique ways that go far beyond the traditional 30-second TV ad.”
Whatever the form, whether subtle or integrated, we would like to encourage would-be VR marketers to learn from the mistakes that have been made in the past. Since we will inevitably see advertisements in VR, let's try and do it right so as not to lose audiences before virtual reality really has a chance to go mainstream.