Over the last 20 years though, there has been an explosion in tech with the emergence of SVOD, VR, AR, social media channels etc, changing reality as we know it. We have entered a new world where pretty much everything is ‘connected’ and moments of boredom are now filled with moments online doing something ‘useful’. Technology has evolved to such a point that it is able to add layers to our reality and create new malleable environments that was only present in our imagination before.
A study by Kinetic showed that we spend about £23 billion online shopping just whilst commuting. SVOD and watching video across websites has exponentially increased and has only accelerated with the COVID-19 pandemic. The launch of Disney+ hit 10 million subscribers in 1 day and reached its target number two years earlier than anticipated. According to WARC, the biggest driver of grown within digital advertising is mobile with the UK having a smartphone penetration of over 80%.
In the recent years, AR and VR have started to become mainstream in marketing campaigns as they are able to create new experiences for users. Virtual reality is still mainly used as a gaming platform with the three dominant headset manufacturers being Oculus Rift by Facebook, HTC Vive and PlayStation VR by Sony. There is also Google Cardboard which is much more simple and cheaper and simply gets users to place their phone in the card headset to get a taste of VR.
Companies are always keen to be at the cutting edge of technology and provide their users with innovative creative experiences so that it reflects positively on their brand. They no longer want to bombard you with banner ads which you probably won’t even see due to the overwhelming amount of information online. Instead they want to create unique events that show off the products as if it were real life. Since VR headsets are still quite expensive and there will always be a finite people who have them, it is the perfect piece of tech for one-off opportunities. Examples of this include car launches like by Jaguar or Honda. These experiences feature the user in the driving seat and have a close-up look at the new model. Another exciting campaign was by Nike where individuals once using the headset were placed in a football field with their favourite players and then the new Neymar Jr. shoe design was revealed. Many movie franchises are now also using it to give fans a behind the scenes exclusive, making them feel like part of the movie or feature in their favourite scene.
Augmented reality is also becoming popular but is much more accessible as it merely overlays images and objects onto reality in a life-like style but viewable on your mobile device or tablet. AR through a headset is not widely available yet and only through Microsoft HoloLens but even so this is more mixed reality. The most popular example of this in a gaming format is Pokémon Go which went viral globally. Snapchat and Instagram are other cases for AR with the use of selfie-filters which distorts your camera image or adds features such as butterflies or freckles. Ikea created an app where users could place items of furniture from the beloved Swedish store in their home and see how it fits and feels with the rest of the décor. In terms of advertising, there is plenty of potential – from Snapchat lenses which makes it seem like a dragon is climbing a building (Game of Thrones) to offering make-up samples (Macy’s).
The changing landscape of technology is allowing marketers to push the boundaries and really think outside the box when it comes to new campaigns. They are able to transport users to a different land and live out their imagination. However, with most campaigns one must balance one-off short-term experiences with repeated exposure as there is always a budget and objectives to achieve.