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Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality have become established marketing tools for many brands across various categories. But what is best practice in building brand experience and interaction with VR & AR and why OOH’s active audiences are especially well-suited?

What are VR and AR?

Virtual Reality (VR): immerses the user in a 360-degree digital environment, most commonly using a headset such as Oculus Rift or Google Cardboard.

Augmented Reality (AR): integrates the physical, real-world environment with computer-generated digital content such as sound, video or graphics, most commonly via an app on a mobile device such as Blippar or Snapchat (social media).

Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality have been around for a while now, and the growth of these platforms continues to go up with a combined predicted value of US$150bn by 2020.
With market developments, such as Facebook’s acquisition of Oculus Rift in 2014 (VR) and the huge success of Pokémon GO (AR) last year, these technologies had come to the forefront of marketing hot topics. Now, brands have had a decent amount of time to enjoy a testing period with the tech, embracing the platforms and turning them into viable marketing tools.
When looking at the choice of medium for campaign implementation, the active nature of the Out-of-Home (OOH) audience combined with the technologies’ focus on experience and engagement, has made OOH the leading choice.

AR and VR and humans

Virtual Reality is immersive and Augmented Reality is interactive and entertaining. But the success of interaction with VR and AR is largely due to their ability to tap into almost all the intrinsic human motivators; autonomy (I control), mastery (I improve), purpose (I make a difference), progress (I achieve), social interaction (I connect with others). The technologies allow the user to control their experience, rather than being an observer. But how do brands harness this opportunity, and how does OOH ensure reach?

The place of tech in OOH

VR and AR have an ability in creating content for mass audiences but with the added value of focusing the users’ attention. When combined with OOH’s broadcast abilities in reaching mass urban audiences and building brand fame, brands can integrate VR and AR to increase both reach and interactivity of their campaigns exponentially. However, using technology for technology’s sake alone is not enough to win over target audiences.

Consumer needs come above tech hype

Being the first to use a technology is not as important as meeting the audience’s needs, and it pays off taking the time to create an experience that feels organic. Equally, brands should be able to measure against clear objectives when conceptualising a VR or AR-driven campaign.
The success of OOH AR and VR campaigns requires an emotional investment, and they speak best to consumers when they focus on the experience rather than the brand.
But regardless of which technology brands choose, the environment is paramount for optimum reach, which is why OOH has been a clear choice. It offers brands the right time and place for interaction with their target audience when they are active, open and receptive; from virtual product trialling in the high dwell time airport environment, to entertaining waiting commuters with real-world overlays at bus shelters.

Different categories require different tech

Tourism brands were among the first to adopt VR; it was a fantastic way for consumers to have a taste of their dream destination. Education brands can also use the VR’s ability to transport the consumer and focus their attention. Luxury brands can build an experience to satisfy the changing preferences of their target audiences. And charities like UNICEF NZ can tap into the empathetic side of people by providing a realistic experience of the projects, thus increasing their understanding and support.
In the case of AR, Pokémon GO already trained the consumer how to use it. And AR’s existing platforms already provide for effective brand building, for example; Ghostbusters owned Snapchat filters at London Waterloo, or PepsiMAX “Unbelievable” bus shelter – hero content that overall generated £54m in sales revenue*. AR is the perfect companion to motors, fashion or retail where consumers can do anything from virtually exploring a car’s salon to trying on clothes or make-up before purchase, in turn increasing sales and reducing sale returns.
VR and AR have different strengths; VR offers total immersion whereas AR is interactive and more accessible and does not require any additional equipment other than at most, your smartphone. The two technologies may suit some product categories better than others, but in both cases, when campaigns are placed in the right environment and they focus first on the consumer experience and needs, they have the potential to fit perfectly into the customer journey, bring value and be unforgettable.

About JCDecaux Creative Solutions

Creative Solutions is an international division of JCDecaux that brings innovative Out-of-Home (OOH) concepts to on-street reality. Creative Solutions campaigns grab attention and build a dialogue with target audiences.
Whether special builds or Dynamic Content, dedicated teams around the world use the latest technologies to optimise campaigns across all OOH environments.

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*Source: Warc Tool Kit 2017

Published in New Technologies, about #augmented and virtual reality