It’s no surprise that with the ever growing amount of investment, and a boomtown-esque emergence of players in the hardware segment, virtual reality has managed to open a new door into becoming the next social platform. With the emergence of this next generation of social media capabilities comes the omnipresent opportunity for marketing.
Social VR is a movement beyond singular experiences between man and machine. Yes, video games and 360 videos are today’s killer apps of VR, but the human to human experience is one that will break barriers, change accepted conventions, and push innovation further. One of the main proponents of Social VR is none other than the social media kingpin himself, Mark Zuckerberg. In a style reminiscent of “Manifest Destiny”, Facebook’s acquisition of Oculus is finally showing signs of interconnectivity with the social network leader. Mark Zuckerberg presented a live demo of its early social VR capabilities at Oculus’ Connect 3 conference on October 6th.
Imagine a virtual world where you spend time with your distant friends, colleagues, and families, creating virtual experiences, playing games, watching tv/movies, or taking phone calls and selfies through Facebook Messenger. Now imagine looking around this virtual world and seeing advertisements for laundry detergent in corners, apple commercials seamlessly floating about, or even pop-ups in your own personal HUD. But it doesn’t end there, in virtual worlds, the reaches of marketing has no bounds than creativity itself. There’s limitless potential in the ability to create a world where content is easily distributable in formats with no bounds, but not just fed or one-sided content, but rather a complete immersive experience. There’s an undeniable magic in that.
Facebook isn’t the only company making headway. Companies like AltspaceVR, vTime, and Anyland, are also showing promise in laying the foundation for the adoption of VR as a social platform. They’re developing separate worlds, some open source/some not, but altogether building a legitimate user base. The market is there and just as ads and pay-for-placements have laced the timelines of Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, social media marketing via VR is the next frontier of the marketing experience.
Deloitte predicted that VR would become a $1 billion dollar industry in 2016 with $700 million from hardware sales and the other $300 million from content.** This $400 million separation of revenue is caused by the minimal impact of visual content creation thus far for VR, specifically within television and movies. This lack of content is due to the constraint on quality from technology and the cost of producing a high grade visual delivery. Nevertheless, Facebook has contributed $250 million to Oculus content development with plans for another $250 million investment in the future, a testament to dedication and changes to come. The growing interest in this niche segment of the market shows that the ability for Social VR to succeed, and the marketing within it, requires more content creators and forward-thinking companies willing to invest efforts into VR which in turn will decrease cost and push for better quality.
Early adopters are making moves and the platform of engagement is being laid. Just as we’ve seen in the past with other game-changing technological innovations, we know all too well that costs will decrease, the market will grow, and the opportunity for companies to find a new customer segment will shine for those willing to invest in its capabilities.