With virtual reality, it’s already happening.
Schools are now hiring developers to create films that can be viewed in 360 degrees and accessed with an app. The educational institutions are including low-cost headset VR viewers (apparatus where smartphones are placed and used as the screen) in direct mailings or through an opt-in request at their website. Recipients can check out that new dorm and sparkling student center, and also listen to conversations with department chairs – experiences designed to elicit a campus trip for a more in-depth visit. When the prospective students arrive, the school can assume it’s a serious contender on these prospects’ lists.
“They have more detailed questions to ask, and they know what they want to explore even more when they get there,” says Gordon Meyer, director of YouVisit, a VR provider founded by three international students at Brandeis University who wanted to give more people the opportunity to take campus tours, regardless of income and location. “VR allows you to travel far afield in a moment.”
Virtual reality is no longer a futuristic pipedream. VR is expected to be a $30 billion global industry by 2020, with annual shipments of headsets predicted to exceed 12 million units this year and reaching 55 million in 2022.
But perhaps of more importance for advertising and marketing professionals is exactly who is using VR. It’s not just gamers with cutting-edge rigs, or Silicon Valley labs developing the highest technology. VR is within the reach of just about anyone, and it can be immediately leveraged in marketing and sales by offering interaction with a brand’s value proposition.
“I can’t think of one business that shouldn’t be in VR,” adds Meyer. “It serves marketing, sales and brand awareness for every vertical. The less-expensive viewers move like hotcakes at trade shows. People can jump right into it just using their smartphones.”
For the promotional industry in particular, it’s an exciting new reality. VR will allow distributors to demonstrate to clients how their branded products would work in a future promotion. Distributors can also partner with brand agencies to create VR marketing content for clients that is instantly memorable. Suppliers already sell VR viewers that can be logoed and given away for exceptional brand engagement.