Top 5 Ways to Leverage Virtual Reality

Virtual reality is here and presents all sorts of new amazing possibilities. Let’s not mess this up, folks.

When executed right, VR can be a powerful tool. But, like any shiny new technology, it needs to be utilized with a level of strategy and responsibility to be effective. A flash of cool new tech is great and all, but can also quickly flame out. (Does your family still throw on 3D glasses to watch the latest Modern Family episode? Didn’t think so.)

Access and understanding of VR and 360 videos is at an all-time high and growing at an exponential rate, as proven by the fact that your mom is probably watching a 360 video on Facebook right now. The most amazing and powerful aspect of this new medium is that it allows people who otherwise wouldn’t be able to experience things/places/events the chance to live these moments through VR.

This presents a huge opportunity for brands. But, it also presents endless options. So, where do you begin?

Here are five quick thought starters on how you might consider best utilizing VR.

Travel

Virtual Reality is proving an innovative and effective tool in the travel and tourism industry. Marketers armed with VR devices are able to transport consumers from the trade show floor to any destination in the world. Interestingly enough, this type of VR is even somewhat media agnostic these days as it can easily integrate into a brand’s social content.

Great for: Museums, Destinations, Resorts

Entertainment

Virtual reality presents a host of new possibilities when it comes to entertainment. While not everyone can afford to sit courtside at the NBA Finals or behind home plate at the World Series, with VR technology fans can now know what it’s like to watch a game from the best seats in the house. Additionally, gamers around the world have been on the forefront of VR for years with early adoption leading to unparalleled innovation in the video game space. That’s only going to continue, especially with the growing popularity of eSports.

Great for: Video Games, Live Sports, Movies

Journalism/Storytelling

There’s no more powerful way to immerse viewers in a piece of journalism than by actually bringing them into the virtual story being told. From reporters covering breaking news in war zones around the world, to less dangerous narrative content being created by hundreds of brands across the globe, VR takes the viewers on a visual journey through the stories being told like never before.

Great for: Journalism, Recruitment, Native Advertising

Sampling

The trend toward virtual sampling is steadily gaining steam. This allows brands to showcase their products in controlled, perfect environments. This is especially powerful for some of the more permanent purchases consumers might be considering—cars, tattoos, furniture, etc. Imagine if you could see what that sofa set would look like in your living room before committing to a purchase? Well, now you can.

Great for: Retail, CPG, Real Estate

Education

Remember how much anxiety you had when you performed brain surgery for the first time? Me neither. But, I’m guessing it would be helpful to experience that first incision in a virtual setting. Similarly, we’re seeing sports teams adopting VR programs to help their athletes get the ever-valuable mental reps in. Pretty sure a certain New England quarterback will be sitting on his couch for the first four weeks of the NFL season wearing his custom Uggs VR goggles to keep his game sharp.

Great for: Universities, Sports, Corporate Training

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Ultimately, when working with VR, it’s important to remember that it should never be used as a replacement for the real thing. As cool as it might be to stand atop the Eiffel Tower or go on an African safari from the comfort of your living room couch, no technology can ever supplant actually going out and living your damn life. The only thing cooler than “virtual” reality — is reality itself. Put that on an Internet meme.

How can your brand best utilize this technology?

Matt Doyle is the EVP of Broadcast at GYK Antler and Executive Producer/Director at Big Brick Productions. Follow him on Twitter: @nbamatt321.