Best Practices for Introducing VR Internally and to Clients as a Marketing Agency
If you work at a marketing agency, you’ve certainly heard of Virtual Reality. You’ve probably tried it. But the question we often get asked is: How can I introduce VR to my agency and clients?
VR is a lucrative arrow in the quiver of marketers. It’s unique, immersive, memorable. As we see significant viewer attrition in TV, and excessive noise in online, Virtual Reality fulfills the promise of getting and maintaining viewer attention.
While not every marketing agency needs a dedicated VR practice, most agencies should be VR-fluent. It’s an important skill to have if clients come to you interested in the technology, and one you can directly upsell existing clients on to expand their marketing programs.
Introducing VR — both internally at an agency and externally to clients — sometimes feels like a daunting process. Very few marketers are expert coders. In fact, most creatives would prefer spending their time capturing video/audio or creating CGI video/audio, rather than learning a new VR-specific coding language.
InstaVR makes it simple for marketers to get into virtual reality. All they need is a 360 camera, a laptop, an InstaVR Pro account, and a VR headset (or many).
That being said, there are some best practices you can follow as you introduce virtual reality to your colleagues and clients. Introducing it improperly will squelch enthusiasm quickly. But taking a measured, intelligent approach will lead to both internal and external buy-in.
So we put together this short guide to help you plan a rollout of VR at your agency. Let us know anything we’re missing!
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1. Buying the Right VR Cameras, Headsets
Before pitching VR to your agency or clients, you’ll need to first build some apps. We’ll go into greater depth on Proof of Concept apps in the next section. But before you can build them, you need the right equipment.
You can come up with the best idea for VR, but if you don’t have the right equipment, your audience won’t care.
What do we mean by “equipment”? Minimally, a 360 camera, a monopod, an additional external microphone (optional), and a VR headset. We’ll give some quick tips on each of these below before you start buying the equipment.
360-degree Camera – The industry moves very quickly. In the past year, we’ve seen Insta360 Pro start to dominate the professional market (RIP Nokia Ozo), the advent of the VR180 standard (learn more here), and most of the major camera manufacturers introduce a new version of their flagship camera (ie Ricoh Theta S -> V). Our complete 360 filming guide is a good resource if you’re new to the space.
For a marketing agency, you don’t want to settle for a lower-end consumer camera, particularly if you plan on using video instead of still images. Expect to invest between $500 – $1000 minimally for a 4K camera just for your initial POC apps. Eventually, you’ll want to invest ~ $3K for an Insta360 Pro, once you have potential clients onboard where the quality of deliverable definitely matters.
Monopod – Pretty self-explanatory, but you’ll want a monopod so you can set up and remotely control a camera without having to be in every scene. Otherwise, you’ll be spending quite a bit of time in Premiere Pro or other software removing yourself from scenes. (Side tip: you’ll want to raise the pod generally to eye level while filming, giving your VR experience watcher a true “1st person” view)
An Additional External Microphone (Optional) – Most 360-degree cameras come with OK microphones built in. Some can even capture rudimentary spatial audio. But for good audio capture, you’re going to want to invest in an external microphone or microphones. And if you’re not intent on just capturing ambient audio, and will have people in a scene, you’ll need to invest in a lava mic.
VR Headsets – It’s probably worthwhile to visit our VR headset page to learn more about your options. Like with 360 cameras, the options continually change. One thing is for sure — you want your co-workers and clients to have a great first impression, so don’t just rely on Google Cardboard as your Proof of Concept headset. For as little as $200, you can buy an Oculus Go headset and give users a much more immersive visual and audio experience.
For Marketers on a Budget – Invest in something like a Nikon Key Mission, Garmin Virb, or Kodak PixPro for the camera, and an Oculus Go for the headset.
For More Advanced Marketers – Jump straight to the Insta360 Pro for your camera, and a few Oculus Gos or Gear VRs for your headsets.
2. Creating a First Proof of Concept App
As we’ve stated before, first impressions are very, very important.
A bad VR experience will taint users’ perception of the technology. A good VR experience will get you 100% buy-in. So you want to invest a lot of time and thought into your first published “Proof of Concept” app.
Before you start filming, decide why you’re capturing and displaying something in Virtual Reality.
Don’t just film in 360-degrees because it seems cool. Have a reason.
For instance, in our interview with Scott Robinson, we learned he worked with a bicycle manufacturer looking to feature their technology at a conference. But users couldn’t just ride the bike around the expo floor. So Scott’s team filmed in 360 a first-person POV of riding the bike down the boardwalk in Southern California.
At the conference, they combined the bike set up as stationary, a Gear VR loaded up with the 360 ride, and a wind machine. Now that’s what we call a good use of VR!
Or look at Premise LED, our client who created before & after VR experiences showcasing lighting installations. The positive change of their lighting solutions is not easily experienced by a potential buyer. But an immersive VR app is perfect for displaying the improvement!
Here are some tips as you plan out your first Proof of Concept app filming:
Storyboard – Filming in 360 is in some respects easier than traditional filming. You can set up the camera in a stationary position and have motion around the camera, you don’t have to spend as much time thinking of the framing, and audio can be captured in-camera.
However, you really should storyboard and conceptualize the shoot ahead of time. You have to account for optimal camera location, you have to make sure the full 360 landscape is captured in the way you’d like, and you don’t want any auditory distractions.
Most of those challenges can be easier addressed with smart storyboarding.
Bring Your Laptop & Extra SD Cards – Many 360 cameras, unlike standard SDLRs, don’t have easy playback. So you’ll want to download the footage to see if the images/video/audio meet your needs. And definitely bring extra SD cards for cameras that use them — the worst scenario is to want to film more but not be able to.
Overshoot – We’ve discussed previously how the optimal VR application is shorter than a traditional video. Why? Because you’re fully immersed and your visual and auditory senses are being given a lot of information. And nobody wants a VR headset on their head for too long.
A typical optimal VR app experience may last 2 – 5 minutes. But you’re going to want to film more — way more — so you can cut down your media later on. It may not be obvious day of shoot how well a take went, as you have to explore the whole 360 viewscape.
Make it Interactive – As you transition from filming to app creation in InstaVR, you’ll want to make your VR app interactive. That includes adding navigation between scenes and interactive hotspots. Your audience, be it colleagues or clients, will have a more memorable and better experience if the VR experience has interactivity. And hopefully they’ll better be able to see the benefits of VR.
3. Pitching VR to Your Clients
Now that you have the equipment and the Proof of Concept VR experience, you’re ready to pitch!
Pitching a new technology to clients isn’t always easy. There’s an inherent skepticism and fear. Will this tech be too expensive? How will people react to it? What is the ROI?
Here are a couple things to remember as you pitch colleagues/clients on using VR in their marketing campaigns.
VR Helps Improve Recall – Don’t believe us? Read TechCrunch and their reporting on what researchers have learned at University of Maryland. Advertising and marketing is largely about recall. If you don’t form a brand/feeling association, and make it memorable, the value of your marketing is very low. Creating an interesting VR experience far surpasses the benefits you’ll get from a standard 2D video.
Good VR Will Get You Publicity – Just this past week, we read about a successful waterpark in Europe adding VR to their waterslides. Why did they do that? Because with VR, you can change up the visuals, allowing for a brand new waterpark experience every time they update their app. Not only is it a cool use of VR, but it helped the waterpark get a lot of press and attention.
Show Them the Competition – Your clients may not know their competition is already using VR to increase sales. Show them! Like with social media, early adopters of VR get more attention and interest, because the market isn’t saturated — yet. We’re getting past the early adopter stage, in large part thanks to platforms like InstaVR that democratize the VR creation process. Waiting to roll out VR is a mistake…
4. Providing Post-Deployment Feedback (ie Heatmaps & Analytics)
Creating an impressive VR experience for a client is a major accomplishment!
The ideal next step is to create another one for them. But absent the funds — or inspiration — the client-agent relationship doesn’t just end with initial app deployment.
Marketing agencies can provide data to their clients on their VR projects. This continuous line of communication is mutually beneficial, particularly as execs at clients like to have “results” to look at. The two main forms of post-deployment feedback are:
Analytics – You can tie a VR application into a Google Analytics account. This will allow you to see counting statistics on interactivity — ie how many people engaged each Navigation Link or Hotspot. This data is valuable in understanding where users sought more information or were interested in viewing.
Heatmaps – Heatmaps are a great way to visualize how your app users are viewing a particular 360-degree scene. You can see which parts of the experience get intense focus vs. a lack of interest. Then, with this data, you can educate your client on how they can improve their content. This iteration will improve VR experiences over time and allow you to create the best application possible for your client.
Marketing Agencies have been some of the earliest proponents of Virtual Reality.
They know that clients are hungry for for marketing campaigns that are 1. Experiences 2. Memorable 3. Buzzworthy
VR checks all the boxes — when done right. So it’s important to have your first interactions regarding VR — be it selling internally or pitching to clients — be productive.
That means investing in quality hardware (cameras, microphones, headsets), creating a meaningful & impressive Proof of Concept, and crafting a pitch the demonstrates the real value of the technology. Then once the first project is deployed, continuing the conversation by looking at metrics.
If you’re an agency considering adding VR to your marketing quiver, InstaVR helps you to create applications quickly, easily, and without coding. We also help you to deploy to the most popular VR headsets, and even publish widely to the Stores (iTunes, Google Play, and Oculus). Sign up for a free InstaVR account today and create an example app to see if we can help you take your marketing clients to the next level!