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Even though we aren’t living in space, eating our meals in bag form, or absorbing our information through chips in our brains–we’re still getting closer to these science fiction realities every day.

Ahead of the Curve

As a digital company, we try to not just keep up with trends but to actually anticipate them. The newest murmurs in the digital space are virtual reality; and even in mainstream consumerism, we’re seeing it more and more. Virtual reality has become huge in the gaming world, and it’s leading many marketers and researchers to question its play in advertising and even in the way we shape our digital world around us.

The Basics: Virtual v. Augmented

Pokemon Go; an example of augmented reality.

Because virtual reality was made such a familiar concept by popular science fiction–and because it rolls off the tongue more readily than a word like “augmented”–it’s how most consumers identify anything that has an element of the real world meeting a virtualized version of it. But augmented and virtual reality are two different technologies.

Augmented reality is the tech that combines the real world with a fictional overlay. Think Pokemon Go or stargazer apps where you can hold your device up to the night sky and see constellations map in front of you.

Virtual reality transports users to a place or space in time through means of a headset or glasses (like Google cardboard) and is therefore wildly engaging. It’s entirely immersive in a way that augmented reality cannot be.

A future in marketing?

On a global scale, virtual reality has the power to revolutionize the way that people learn skills. Pilots, doctors, military personnel–all these fields will be able to train people faster, in greater volumes, and more cost effectively with the technological advantages that virtual reality offers.

However, when it comes to marketing, augmented reality may have the upper hand. Because this type of

Virtual reality; goggles required.

tech is device friendly, and therefore more accessible and less committal, it’s got a brighter future than virtual reality–especially where mainstream users are concerned.

Here’s a for-instance. If X Travel Agency wanted to promote the beach using both virtual and augmented reality, here’s how it would look:

Virtual: Potential travelers could put on a helmet or Google cardboard variant and be magically transported to a beach. They could see and hear the waves crashing–and if it’s done right, a good marketing strategy may even place real sand and breeze around the rest of the person to make the virtual reality a truly immersive experience.

Augmented: Opting in to an augmented reality provider like Snapchat, all Snap users could put fake sunglasses on with a big giant beach drink in their hand, mixes with the sound of crashing waves and party music. Users will pretend to be on the beach, giving captions, sharing pics to other friends, and in the corner would be “Sponsored by X Travel Agency.”

These could both be effective–the issue with virtual reality here is that while they payoff is substantial, the buy-in from potential customers is great. In addition to selling the beach, you’re also having to sell them on the idea of stepping into a reality and relinquishing control to you the salesperson. By contrast, appealing to a social media that already has around 160 million daily users will offer the chance at infinitely more shares.

Up to You

Essentially, there is no definite or right answer to this quandary. Both pieces of technology have extraordinary potential, and this blog is just the tip of the iceberg. Right now, it’s a veritable stalemate, but the second we get a client who requests one or the other, I’ll be back at this keyboard with a whole bunch of new thoughts.

Til then!

– Erin

Erin Miller

About the Author

Erin Miller
When she's not spending her time creating cool client websites, Erin is an avid fan of jigsaw puzzles and binge watching The Office on Netflix over and over.

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