October has been a big month for VR. Google announced two new phones (Pixel and Pixel XL) and a pretty nifty VR headset that will be available later this month. Mark Zuckerberg revealed Oculus will be releasing a new standalone headset to complement the Rift in the near future. And the long-awaited Playstation VR headsets will finally be hitting store shelves in less than a week.
With all this talk of headsets, one thing seems to be overlooked: publishing VR projects to the Web still matters. An internet webpage may lack some of the cache of a $2K headset/computer combo, but it is still the most important platform for getting eyeballs on your VR experience.
Below we outline three major reasons customers shouldn’t overlook the Internet as a place to make their VR experiences available:
1. The Internet is easily the most widely distributed medium for Virtual Reality.
For all the news headlines about major VR headset-based platforms, the distribution numbers still lag a bit. Part of this is cost — current Oculus Rift and HTC Vive models are prohibitively expensive to all except the most hardcore VR enthusiasts.
According to Tractica, a technology marketing research firm, roughly 15.9 million VR headsets will be shipped this year. That’s pretty impressive year-over-year growth for the industry. Even more so when you consider that figure doesn’t include Google Cardboard, which distributed 5 million viewers last year alone.
But let’s be honest for a second… there’s nearly 3.5 Billion internet users. Yes, Billion with a “B”. That is a huge addressable market. With InstaVR hosting your web-based 360 VR experience — or creating a package for you to host on your own site — you have the ability to reach a lot more people than if you only target headset users.
Web-based VR publishing might not be as immersive as Gear VR or Google Cardboard, and it certainly won’t rival the experience of using an Oculus Rift or HTC Vive, but it will be seen by many. And it can’t be understated how important it is to make your VR accessible during these early days of the technology.
2. Mobile phone real estate is getting harder to secure.
Obviously, mobile is huge. People are on the move and don’t want to be tethered to a desktop or laptop. That’s why there has been an explosion in the number of apps available since the advent of the iTunes Store. Here’s the problem though: your phone has only so much real estate for apps.
It’s getting increasingly hard to convince users to download an app. Culturally, we’re experiencing app fatigue. According to Nielsen, US smartphone users access roughly 27 apps per month. However, the top 200 apps account for 70% of that usage number!
What does that mean? As a marketer, you have to spend more time and money to get your app on people’s phones. Promoting your VR app on your webpage — giving users a preview of what they can experience on iOS, Android and Google Cardboard — is a great way to entice users to download your app.
Never underestimate the power of publishing to the Web as a means of increasing your mobile presence!
3. Web-based VR helps your website stand out.
Employing Virtual Reality is a great way to make your company stand out from the competition. There’s obviously a ton of content on the Web for users to choose from. But having immersive VR, empowering the user to interact with your website, makes your content stickier and more sought after.
Nowhere are the numbers more staggering than in looking at the click-through rate (CTR) or gaze-through rate (GTR) of VR ads. According to Immersv Inc, they see a typical GTR of 30% on their platform. Whereas a typical desktop computer ad only has a CTR of 0.4%.
Obviously, web-based VR isn’t going to have the same incredibly high CTR/GTR as on a headset, but it’s certainly going to exceed that of a traditional banner ad. Why? Because the very nature of VR is interactive. Users get to choose their own navigation and what areas they engage with.
There’s obviously a lot of hype around headset-based VR — much of it justified. But at present, you shouldn’t overlook publishing your VR experiences to the web. In fact, InstaVR makes this incredibly simple with our “create once, publish to many” approach.
Once you’ve created your virtual tour or experience, you can one-click publish to the Web, the same way you do with iOS, Android, and Gear VR apps. InstaVR can host your web-based VR experience or you can incorporate it into your site as an iFrame.
It’s as simple as that!
To see what amazing things are possible with web-based VR publishing, please visit the Smithsonian American Art Museum’s site: http://americanart.si.edu/multimedia/wonder360/
Utilizing InstaVR, they captured and published Renwick Gallery WONDER 360, an immersive exhibit showcasing nine contemporary artists. Though also available for download on iOS and Android, their VR gallery tour can be experienced directly on their website.