Digital marketing agencies tend to be early adopters of technology. Agencies blend technical and creative expertise, which makes them particularly adept at identifying and taking advantage of marketing trends. As Virtual Reality becomes more widespread, digital marketers that don’t incorporate VR into their offering mix are going to be at serious disadvantage.
As an early employee in the SaaS web analytics industry, I saw firsthand how forward-thinking agencies were able to leverage the technology to win clients. The investment in web analytics wasn’t cheap — you had to not only purchase the software, but also hire employees and train them on how to best utilize it. But the rewards were many. The ROI on the technology was very significant, when used properly.
How soon before VR jumps from Early Adopters to Early Majority?
Virtual Reality is at about the same point in the adoption cycle as web analytics was when I started in that space in 2004. Though direct clients accounted for a large portion of our revenue then, relationships with digital agencies was absolutely critical. Digital agencies hold a huge amount of influence on their clients as trusted advisers. Since VR requires a level of creativity and production that far exceeds web site design, marketing agencies will be even more important in the adoption of this technology than they were in analytics.
Below, I’ll outline three main reasons almost every digital agency should consider significant investment in Virtual Reality.
1. Consumer demand for VR experiences is on the rise
For a while now, a common narrative has been that VR can’t go mainstream until Head-Mounted Displays (HMDs) became ubiquitous. The thinking, like with video game consoles, is that hardware drives content consumption.
First of all, I don’t necessarily agree with that assumption. According to Pew Research Center, 68% of adults in countries with the most advanced economies own smartphones. Almost every smartphone, thanks to Google Cardboard and other cheaper headsets, is VR-ready. Is the experience perfect? No, but it’s still the easiest way to reach consumers with an immersive experience.
Secondly, this holiday season is going to be huge for HMDs. We’ve had a slew of Q4 product launches — Google Daydream, Oculus Touch, Playstation VR. The raw numbers of sales will be small compared with mobile devices, but the combined numbers will perceptually make it feel like Virtual Reality is breaking through.
And companies involved in VR are spending a ton of money advertising these platforms. Google launched a pop-up store in Manhattan to showcase Daydream, Sony has lowered prices to outpace Rift & Vive, and Samsung was advertising Gear VR non-stop on the Sunday NFL game I watched last night.
All of these efforts add up to huge demand for VR. Now it’s up to digital agencies and production companies to produce 360 content that consumers desire.
The line to try out Virtual Reality in Las Vegas.
2. Offering Virtual Reality services allows you to differentiate your agency
The launch of the iPhone in 2007 ushered in the era of mobile apps. Companies that recognized the power of mobile — Facebook, for example — were able to distance themselves from competition that remained browser-focused. The iPhone & Android platforms also allowed digital agencies to tap into a huge revenue stream, as companies increasingly needed sticky, engaging mobile apps to keep customers’ attention.
Virtual Reality, like the mobile boom, provides a huge opportunity to agencies that are early adopters. If you can pitch your expertise in this emerging technology, you can win clients who are looking for a new way to break through the advertising clutter to garner captive eyeballs. And in the competitive landscape of digital agencies, any differentiation is a huge marketing advantage.
3. VR will disrupt many traditional industries
I’ve already written about how Virtual Reality is changing the world of Real Estate & Hospitality. That’s really just the tip of the iceberg though. We have clients in transportation, entertainment, education, construction, non-profit, travel — just to name a few of the areas where VR is applicable.
Marketers increasingly need to provide experiences to their audience. Millennials, in particular, are less interested in tangible goods than feelings. And experiences that can be shared by many people at once, regardless of location, are increasingly important.
Furthermore, VR experiences help drive demand for real world experiences. Here’s a simple example: Six Flags draws visitors to its tallest roller coaster in the world by letting users virtually experience it before going to the park. Is riding a virtual coaster as good as riding a real one? No. But is experiencing it virtually better than a banner ad on a website, a television commercial, or an ad in the newspaper for driving visits? Absolutely.
How InstaVR Helps Digital Agencies Become VR-Capable
InstaVR makes the process of creating VR apps across platforms simple and easy. Rather than hiring a full-time App Developer specific for VR, companies can turn their 360 images and videos into apps on our platform. All you need is a camera and creativity.
The process with InstaVR is simple. You upload your 360 images and videos to our web-based console. You augment adding navigational links between scenes and overlay hotspots with images/video/audio narration. Then create your home screen, optional splash video, and app icon. Final step: packaging.
With one-click each, you’ll have an iOS app, an Android app, a Google Cardboard app, a Gear VR app, and an embeddable web experience in a matter of minutes. You can submit these apps to the iTunes, Google Play, and Oculus Stores.
It’s that simple. Even if you’re a small, lean agency, you can be VR-capable. Your clients can benefit from having access to VR apps. And their customers will benefit from having great experiences created by you. Win-win.
To learn more about how Digital Agencies can leverage InstaVR to create immersive VR experiences, contact our Head of Sales & Marketing, Andrew Woodberry — andrew at instavr.co or +1 925-708-3928.