With the popularity of Pokémon Go the world over, the evidence is clear: we’re truly ready to embrace augmented reality. But is your start-up prepared to engage with customers in the virtual world?
ShortPress finds out what you can do to ensure your business is ready for the competitive new virtual space, without blowing your budget.
Landon Curry, managing director of advertising and gaming animation studio RedCartel, says that virtual reality and augmented reality can bring customers closer to your products in a way that can’t be achieved in a 2D environment.
“Allowing customers to explore your product and the features they are interested in, particularly the details that interest them the most, can give you a much more targeted marketing experience,” he says. “Adding interactivity also engages the customer on a deeper level.”
It’s no wonder more and more brands are now jumping on the virtual bandwagon. In the past year, L’Oreal rolled out its Makeup Genius app based on facial mapping technology, which turns a smartphone or iPad camera into a virtual mirror that women can use to try on L’Oréal products in real-time.
More recently, eBay announced its unprecedented partnership with Myer to showcase the first ever ‘virtual retail store’ where customers can shop in 3D using a phone app and a simple virtual reality headset.
Often a simple, well-executed solution can get your message across as opposed to a full-blown room-scale virtual reality experience.
But while there’s certainly a wow factor in big brands using the new technology, Curry says virtual reality can still be accessible for start-ups, and it doesn’t have to be expensive and complex.
“Often a simple, well-executed solution can get your message across as opposed to a full-blown room-scale virtual reality experience,” he says. “You need to be mindful that the user will be able to see your content from all angles, this is particularly true with augmented reality as the user has control over the virtual camera.”
Curry says RedCartel often executes budget virtual reality campaigns for clients that involve somewhat simple, but well executed, virtual reality applications.
“And often clients already have content they use for promotion or marketing which can be repurposed into virtual reality content cost effectively,” he says. “This could be as simple as repurposing an existing website or brochure and converting it into a virtual reality showcase with immersive 360 stereoscopic depth.”
In order to kick-start your virtual reality strategy, Curry suggests not to be too ambitious to start, especially if you have a limited budget.
First, take the time to explore the various technologies and what their pros and cons are.
“First, take the time to explore the various technologies and what the pros and cons are,” he says. “Then sample some existing experiences to get an idea as to which technology best suits your needs.
“You’ll then get a good understanding of the different types of virtual reality and augmented reality so you can make an educated decision as to what platform will work for you.”
Ultimately, Curry predicts most brands, if not all, will eventually see some benefit from having a virtual reality application.
“Even if it’s a simple virtual showroom of their services or products that they can take to clients or provide free of charge on the app stores,” he says. “Using technologies like cloud serving, these apps can be updated fairly easily with the latest content so your virtual reality showcase is always up to date.”
So what’re the key steps to making your start-up virtual reality-ready on a budget?
- Accept the fact that virtual reality as a customer engagement tool is here to stay
- Do your homework, research your options and don’t dive straight in
- Start simple, test and learn before building up slowly
- Think about repurposing existing 2D content into 3D immersive experiences
Azadeh Williams is a former business and finance news editor at Thomson Reuters, Azadeh Williams has written over 3,000 articles in her 15-year international career on business, technology, marketing and innovation for the likes of The Times, CMO Magazine and Fast Business. She has also lectured in business journalism and media law at Macleay College.