Amidst the chaos of the coronavirus pandemic, brands that were focused on executing events and experiences seem to have been left without a paddle. Fear not. Fortunately by tapping into the technology available to us, we can salvage the strategies your brand has been working on to educate, engage, and acquire customers and clients.
Virtual reality is not a new tool. It’s been on the rise for years but with the world going into isolation, there’s never been a better time to activate this valuable technology and understand it’s potential. Sense spoke with Phillip Sheen (Founder and Director of GiG VR) and Julian Ward (Founder and CEO at 7DX) to gain an elaborate understanding of the opportunities VR can provide for brand experiences.
Virtual reality is a computer technology that allows us to create simulated environments. It is experienced through individual mounted headsets that use audio and an LED display. So how does this apply to the world of events?
Julian Ward shared, “We’re able to create highly interactive and engaging virtual environments, taking things well beyond what you can do in the real world. In a sense, you can recreate quite a captivating experiential opportunity virtually. We can integrate content and multimedia in innovative new ways, show and immerse people into information and products, as well as collaborate live with multiple participants engaging simultaneously.”
Why should brands consider VR?
In a practical sense, VR can create:
- Educational resources
- Roundtable meetings
- Product launches
- Brand experiences
- And so much more.
Ward says, “looking at virtual reality as an immersive solution, there’s the ability to create a place that holds the attention where we can present multimedia and integrated elements, so spatial interaction. We’re able to present data or content unlike any way that has been possible before and heighten that experience.”
But it’s not just another format to engage your audience, it’s a space to create real connection and impact.
“The next part of that is when you’re in that state - in a VR state and mirror your sensory input we get you to a state of plausible presence. When we’re in that state, our brain activity is heightened so the hippocampus, the frontal lobe, the areas for engagement heighten retention and memory encoding.
“On the clinical side, we see a lot more retention and transfer of that experience to action in the real world. We’re talking significantly. If I present something to a potential client they might retain 15-20% of that information in two weeks time. If I present it in a fully immersive VR experience, they’ll retain 80% of it up to two years time. These are not insignificant, they are magnitudially great in the effective side. I think people will understand then you can simulate an environment and have some interaction but the truth is the effectiveness of these has a compound effect, based on that, effectively, the cognitive science part of what these tools can really do. So those two things together create incredibly powerful tools.”
VR is an opportunity for purpose-driven campaigns
From a point of compassion and community to all parts practicality, the opportunities with VR are only limited by imagination. A particular area of live experiences that has been impacted by COVID-19 is the music industry where already 274k events and gigs have been cancelled in Australia.
Already this live music climate has inspired artists across the country to produce their own live entertainment across social media and they’ve done so by turning their approach around within weeks. Although this has been one step to artists combating the effects of COVID-19, they are still working out how to create exclusive environments where they’re able to generate an income.
GiG VR record and stream live music events in 360° for Virtual Reality. Their content can be viewed on any device including VR headsets which makes it so powerful. Philip Sheen believes, “[there is] a massive opportunity for brands to align with a socially conscious mission to support vulnerable artists and the music industry. They can contribute to the solution and recovery process by supporting the artists they align with, or by collaborating on larger projects like productions that offer international exposure to artists through unique pre-recorded and live-streamed content. Brands who jump in now will future proof their trustworthiness with music fans everywhere. They can create new opportunities to amplify their brand and share new stories with a market who holds the same values.”
Equip your brand experiences with VR
Whether you’re looking to educate and engage employees or clients remotely or create a wider experience for B2B and B2C, VR is accessible and can be turned around in a timely manner.
Ward says, “[VR] has the ability to create really amazing, immersive experiences that are powerful, reasonably quickly so the limitations from my perspective are down to access. From a channel, we need a device to access those experiences.”
“Do those client partners or staff have headsets? We’re talking to some major companies that are talking about giving headsets to their key clients. The timeline on potential disruption to work and lockdowns is four to six months minimum at a dramatic end of the scale so the idea of mobilising access so dividing headsets to key people or clients can access these experiences, that’s the key component or the opportunity barrier, making sure what we build we can access.”
In GiG VR’s experience, where they create 360° live shows, Sheen has been able to identify, “this technology is really exploding around the world especially now there is so much importance on creating virtual content that people can experience at home. Brands can access a whole new global audience through new tech like VR.”
“360° content is so powerful because it is more immersive than regular 2D content and we have found that people engage with 360° much more because they have the power to choose how they watch the video. We find people rewatch the same video to get a different perspective each time and are more likely to share the experience with their friends on social media. This new tech is solving a lot of the problems around attendance and exposure right now.”