When and where to use VR in marketing

Speakers at the Mobile World Congress Shanghai share best practices for VR use in marketing.

A visitor at the MWC Shanghai experiencing VR at the Samsung Exynos booth.
A visitor at the MWC Shanghai experiencing VR at the Samsung Exynos booth.

Philip Pelucha, commercial director, 3D Redshift, summed it best during the Mobile World Congress Shanghai last Friday when he said that VR marketing is all about giving consumers an experience that leave them wanting more. 

He listed three sectors that can best benefit from VR's immerseive advertising experience: ecommerce, real estate and automotive. 

Philip Pelucha

On ecommerce, Pelucha said the next generation of ecommerce will not be browser-based. In fact, Macy's already employed VR to allow Chinese consumers shop at its New York store during the Singles Day sales last November. In real estate, Pelucha said VR would help developers cut cost by building fewer model units, since international investors may no longer need to travel to view prospective properties.

"The questions that many brands ask is of course [about] cost, and whether consumers have to wear the headsets when they are doing VR marketing," he said. To the latter, Pelucha said VR headsets are not really necessary, provided that they design VR experience that can be viewed on phones or simple tools such as Google Cardboard. 

Francis Lam, chief innovation and technology officer at Isobar, stressed that VR is not just technology but a medium with which to communicate. He shared a case study on the VW Magotan launch last year, which created a lot of buzz when Taiwanese actor-singer Jay Chou was announced as the director of the VR video for the campaign, Eyes of Agent, a piece of branded content derived from the movie Now You See Me 2. News of Chou directing the video alone reached 230 million views on social media sites, while total viewership of the video surpassed 4.2 million.

"VR is not just abobut visuals, you can also incorporate other senses," Lam said, citing the example of a Coca-Cola campaign that incorporated neural sensors into its VR features.

He however cautioned that bad VR would make consumers sick and that may impact the credibility of the brand.  

"When we are working on digital projects, a lot of clients like to scale, but when you tell them it is a roadshow kind of VR experience, many of them hesitate because they think it will reach fewer people," said Lam. That's why it's important for brands to include social sharing features for their VR campaigns, he said. 

On how to avoid making VR a mere gimmicks, Lam told Campaign Asia-Pacific that VR should be more about showing utility instead of just creating brand familiarity, and that it is important for brands to offer an offline experience to support the VR campaigns, 

"In cases like this, brands will be more willing to spend on VR, because it can help them to reduce cost (by making the campaign more effective)," said Lam.

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