Virtual Reality – The New Medium

Virtual Reality. The year is 2017 and still, for many people, the term Virtual Reality implies little more than a novelty experience, a fad so to speak. Think back a couple of decades and this is exactly what people felt about mobile phones and the Internet. While many understood the obvious potential of these media, not many could guess just how deeply these technologies would get integrated within the waft and weave of our lives. While the consumers themselves have the luxury of sitting back and playing the wait-and-watch game, it’s extremely important for marketers to keep updating themselves on the potential of emerging media. And make no mistake; Virtual Reality could very well be the future.

For years VR has been waiting in the wings for its turn. Sometimes, other elements need to develop fully before a certain technology can take centre stage and it seems VR is finally coming into the limelight through the world of gaming.

In the next two- three years, it is estimated that VR headsets will reach over 20 million users and considering the fact that almost every tech giant has started producing them in some form, this number almost seems like an underestimate. And that is just covering the entertainment aspect of it. It is estimated that VR could prove to be extremely beneficial for professionals such as doctors, teachers, engineers etc. to interact with a more hands-on approach with people or clients across the globe. The possibilities are staggering.

Already a number of brands across the globe have started integrating VR experiences into their innovative brand activations. In the coming years, using VR for advertising won’t simply be a novelty but will also become one of the regular mediums, and why not? Think about it, when you have a VR headset on, there is literally no way to get distracted short of somebody coming and physically shaking you. Zero distraction means greater immersion which means total dedication to the product being experienced; be it a game, movie or an advertisement of some kind. Now compare this to surfing the net on your phone or computer and the difference becomes evident. In our daily lives we multi task across numerous tabs, apps and devices and barely have enough time to attend to one thing before another snatches away our attention. VR manages the rare feat of funnelling our attention to one thing only. When you reach an audience through a Virtual Reality device, you are not competing with anything else. It offers content creators the opportunity to look people in the eye and command their undivided attention.

Mark Zuckerberg has labelled Virtual Reality as the most social platform, a statement which has far reaching implications. Already, companies are working towards making VR the prime way to consume, experience and interact with digital content. A few hurdles stand in the way such as the fact that VR headsets induce motion-sickness in many people after long duration of use. But these are minor set-backs. Thirty years ago who would have thought that we as humans would be able to multi-task efficiently to the point where we could use an app, listen to music and navigate traffic on foot, all at the same time. And yet, here we are.

So even if it does take some more time to reach full maturity, VR is definitely here to stay. And this bodes well for those marketers who already have, or at least plan to utilize it in the days to come.

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