The Marketing Potential of Virtual Reality

Continuing our series on virtual reality, today’s chart looks at VR’s marketing potential.

It goes without saying that VR offers an immersive experience unlike any other, with an opportunity to quite literally appear in front of eyeballs, and a chance for users to trial products and experiences from afar.

Brands can take users on safari, underwater, and into the cosmos with Kate Moss.

There’s clear evidence and appetite for experiencing branded content among owners of VR headsets.

A quarter play branded games, while 3 in 10 watch branded videos.

The specific use-case of VR allowing users to experience a new point of view is a good fit for owners of VR headsets, whose biggest over-index in our attitudinal segmentation is Cosmopolitan, indicating they are more open to new cultures, experiences, and places.

Branded content can be instrumental in the purchase journey as well, as 27% are motivated to purchase by exclusive content, and 27% use videos in their research – both large over-indexes.

With VR marketing still in an experimental stage, there is no settled consensus on how to reach users through the medium. But it’s worth sounding a warning from the lessons of digital ads.

Our data shows that among VR Headset Owners who block ads, more than a third do it because they are frustrated with pre-roll video, but even more do so as they find ads too intrusive (45%). These ad-blockers are most frustrated by seeing their screen size compromised, and, while an ad in a VR environment may take up proportionally less space, it’s vital for brands to avoid compromising the immersive experience of the technology.

As we have covered elsewhere, in an environment of widespread ad-blocking and on-demand media, internet users are resistant to interruptive advertising, which means that branded content is a crucial entry point. With that background, marketing on VR should play to its strengths, and work hard to make branded experience immersive, even if it means less prominent ads.

*VR Headset Owners are internet users aged 16-64 who personally own a virtual reality headset.