Marketers: Are You Ready for the Virtual Moment of Truth?

There is a scene in “The Matrix” where treacherous Cypher meets in secret with the film’s villain, Agent Smith while plugged into the simulated reality that gives the film its name. While in this virtual reality, Cypher utters one of the movie’s most haunting quotes, “You know, I know this steak doesn't exist. I know that when I put it in my mouth, the Matrix is telling my brain that it is juicy and delicious. After nine years, you know what I realize?” Cypher opines as he savours his meal, pausing for dramatic effect, “Ignorance is bliss.”

Unlike Cypher, the modern marketer simply cannot afford to ignore the immense potential of virtual reality (VR) to completely reinvent how brands imagine their way into the lives of consumers.

Ignorance is not an option.

VR presents an opportunity for marketers that cannot adequately be described as realization at either the first, second, third, or even the Zero Moment Of Truth (ZMOT).

With its ability to create new dimensions for brands, we need to think of VR’s impact as a Virtual Moment Of Truth (VMOT).

VIRTUALLY COMING BACK TO LIFE

If the current excitement around VR seems a little muted outside of the gaming and tech sphere, it’s perfectly understandable. After all, the idea of being able to create virtual worlds has fascinated popular culture for decades, but the limitations of early technology never truly allowed marketers to create experiences that met user’s expectations.

Today, the technology has finally caught up, and is approaching the true potential of VR in all its immersive glory.

I want to share two recent examples of our work at Nurun which hint at the potential that VR holds for transforming the way consumers experience a brand.

CASE STUDY: MOVISTAR

Making the experience more valuable by immersing MotoGP viewers into a seat that’s not available in the stadium.

For racing enthusiasts, watching live from the side of the track has always been the most immersive experience they can have, and traditionally, this has been limited to only the more affluent of fans. The average MotoGP fan will never have visited a track, and instead been limited to watching the sport on TV, seeing only what the trackside cameras capture.

Together with telecommunications provider Movistar, Nurun-Wysiwyg gave the audience uninhibited access – the ultimate insider’s pass – to all the aspects of what the team and the riders were experiencing, on and off the track.

Through use of a 360-degree camera attached to the riders’ helmets, we allowed the audience to enter their world, see what they see… and more. With the VR headset, fans could become part of the race, rather than watching from the sidelines. And for those watching from their sofa, the experience could be replicated through a mobile app. We used virtual reality to give fans the true race experience that they had been craving, putting them, for the first time, in the rider’s seat.

CASE STUDY: AUDI

Demonstrating a brand’s technological prowess by celebrating Singapore’s past.

2015 was a momentous year for Singapore, marking fifty years of national independence and economic success. It was the biggest national celebration of the year and a marketing opportunity of equal proportion.

In just 50 years, Singapore has rapidly transformed from a sleepy shipping outpost, into a bustling modern city. To help Singaporeans understand just how far the country has come, we created a VR experience that transported Singaporeans back to 1965 – the year of the country’s independence. As they were driven, in an Audi of course, through Singapore’s civic district, users saw and travelled back in time down those very same streets as they had been in 1965 through a fully interactive GPS-tagged, 3D virtual experience.

By entering a national conversation in a way that truly added value to proud Singaporeans, Audi also sealed their position in the market as a technologically advanced automotive brand.

FROM PERIPHERAL TO MAINSTREAM IN THE NEXT FIVE YEARS?

Beyond brand experience, VR also has the potential to reinvent every step of the consumer journey, where the lines between intent and purchase are erased.

To truly embrace this idea is to accept that VMOT is not a new addition to the customer journey – instead it could be used to elevate every part of the journey, from awareness, to consideration and purchase.

Imagine for a moment that you are in the market for a new apartment. Instead of being taken round a physical showroom, you are transported into a virtual replica of what your new apartment would look like when completed in three years.

The applications for destination marketing, in particular, are obvious. Today’s VR tech already gives marketers the ability not only to entertain, but to transform how we discover, choose and experience brands.

Ignore it at your peril.

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