Serious question: does it?
I’m new to this industry, so I did what every newbie does. I dove in head first and started listening to anyone that would talk with me.
I wanted to know how they started in VR and 360 video production. What are their clients asking for? How do they pitch? Do clients see the value? Are they using interactive dialog? How are they planning and developing the interactivity expected in a VR narrative?
What I learned through my many discussions with agencies and production companies is this: many brands don’t see enough value to justify increased cost, and no one I talked with were using these interactive experiences to collect data on the viewer. Coming from the social and CRM space, I’m always thinking about how to gather data that helps me get to know my customers.
See the problem? It’s the value proposition. VR is expensive, and brands and agencies are having a hard time connecting VR projects to the rest of the customer journey.
Most brands would spend $20-$30K for a video that will get 200K views, but have a hard time justifying the $70-$80K required for a VR project that gets the same results. The issue? Brands and agencies need to leverage the technology to interact with the viewer, thereby creating a better overall experience for their customers.
How would it work?
I had a great conversation with a NYC-based VR production team where these thoughts started to percolate. They needed a better way to plan and produce these amazing interactive narratives for their clients. Since they used interactive dialog in their productions, I asked them how they’ve been using these exchanges. Are they using them to collect attribute data or feedback from the viewer?
Brands would love that data. Feeding it back to their clients CRM or marketing automation systems could help to personalize followups and the rest of the customer journey. When I was met with a heavy silence I knew we touched on something that would improve their go-to-market strategy. Two months later, they’ve retooled their approach and are getting better results by proving the value of how these VR projects fit into the overall goals of their client’s marketing campaigns – and providing intelligence to improve future campaigns.
It’s not just about the experience you create, it’s also about planning for what happens next.
If I was pitching a VR project to a major sports apparel company (take Adidas for example) for an upcoming launch, here’s how it would go:
Can you run in my shoes?
We’ll film Adidas-sponsored athletes using our 360 video technology to give viewers a fast paced three minute experience where they follow that athlete through a daily workout. The viewer will be able to pick an avatar that will represent them in this experience. Next they can customize their avatar’s clothing, sneakers, colors, and sizes. We’d end the experience by switching to the athlete’s perspective, allowing the viewer to see how they look.
What data can we collect from this kind of interactive experience?
At the start of the experience, the viewer can enter their name and email to receive a special offer and a link to their video. Mobile and social authentication should be included. Now we have a unique identifier that can allow us to track them in Adidas’ CRM system. Next, they get to pick their avatar and clothing, shoes, and colors from the new summer line. Now, we have some attribute data on what they like that can be used to better personalize outreach in future campaigns.
Post experience, we follow up by giving them a link to their video and a discount to purchase their chosen gear using a promo code. By aggregating all the data we can give Adidas client names, emails, sizes, social profiles, and feed back in real time while simultaneously providing ROI from promo-driven sales.
When VR projects are done with this kind of approach to interacting with the viewer, everybody wins. The agency increases their thought leadership, wins more business, and grows their band. The client gets a unique and attractive experience to offer their customers that also provides them with useful attribute data and feedback.
Most importantly, the customer gets a cool and engaging experience with a personalized followup and a discount. The experience drives brand advocacy, and makes more fans.
Is your team looking for a new, innovative way to plan and create experiences like this? If so, we should talk. Sign up for a demo of Gem, our new narrative design tool, and see how it can help you easily develop interactive experiences.
We’re also busy packing our bags for GamesCom in August. Are you going? Want to meet up and talk VR or gaming? Shoot us a note and book your meeting.