Marketers are always striving to engage consumers. It’s what we do. Through advertising, PR, direct mail, social media, special events—you name it—our goal is to expose audiences to your brand, tell them your brand story, and engage said audience in the process of buying, selling, and talking about your product or service.

Now, emerging technology is poised to allow marketers to up the engagement ante. Virtual Reality (VR) and Augmented Reality (AR) promise to be the next great marketing frontiers, literally immersing consumers in a brand’s environment in ways only imagined before . . . all from the comfort and security of a prospective customer’s home or office:

  • Experience thrilling amusement park rides from the comfort and security of your home, or experience the actual rides themselves, such as Universal Hollywood’s “Fast and Furious” experience on the backlot tour (which immerses riders in a 360-degree race through LA), or the King Kong 3D experience, which puts riders center stage among a battle of giant beasts (Personally, I have a soft spot for the Kong experience, being a big monkey fan and all).
  • Tour the house of your dreams room-to-room, floor-to-floor with 360-degree real estate walkthroughs, inside and out.
  • Design the kitchen, master suite, or bath you’ve always wanted, trying out different colors, decors, and finishes at the push of a button (and look no further than Ikea, which is experimenting with VR/AR to enhance its customer experience).
  • Visit your favorite car dealer’s virtual show room and kick the tires without actually being there.
  • Stroll through your neighborhood with Google’s street view, or visit exotic locations around the globe with Google Earth.

As you can see, the possibilities are endless . . . and we haven’t even touched on applications for entertainment, gaming, medicine, and many other fields. I must say, it would be pretty cool to actually be “in” your favorite movie, rather than just watching it, or to be in your favorite game.

Virtual Reality & Augmented Reality as Brand Engagement Tools

You’re probably thinking, what’s the big deal? A picture’s worth a thousand words. Well, if it’s true that a picture’s worth a thousand words, then VR/AR must be worth a thousand pictures. Why? Because VR?AR promises much more than simply providing viewers with a 360 image of what until now were flat 2D images (many of us, in fact, have undoubtedly already experienced this simple, entry-level form of VR/AR using a mouse, controller, and computer screen). No, the real power of VR/AR as an engagement tool is as a completely immersive, highly impactful experience that’s sure to make lasting impressions on consumers.

Just imagine being able to see, touch, taste, hear, and even smell a brand that interests you. It’s an entire other level of brand engagement.

Is it real, or is it virtual?

The Emerging VR/AR Content Market

While Star Trek’s Holodeck still might be some years in the future, Virtual Reality & Augmented Reality in the form advanced desktop displays with touch and motion accessories, as well as more immersive experiences such as VR/AR goggles and even small VR/AR rooms and enclosures are already here . . . and thriving.

So with the technology essential to power VR/AR already in place and growing leaps and bounds, it is VR/AR content that promises to drive the overall experience for consumers. As a result, a budding VR/AR content development market has emerged.

The possibilities of VR/AR and how it can help expand the digital marketplace and the ability of businesses to tell their brand stories has got us at Barrel O’Monkeyz stoked—so much so that we’re presenting an upcoming networking event with Emmy award winning producer Neil Mandt of Mandt VR on the state of VR and where and how content will be generated.

INTERESTED? The event is being held at the Air & Space Museum in San Diego from 6 to 9 pm on November 15, 2016. This event is by invitation only, and is limited to just 50 people. Early bird registrants (before November 1) get in for $25 (regular online registration is $35) and it’s $50 at the door in the unlikely event there are still seats available. Registration includes two drink tickets, networking, exhibits, appetizers, museum, and beverages. If you think this event might be for you and you’d like to attend, give me a shout out: [email protected].

Paul June is King Monkey of BARREL O’MONKEYZ, a full-service digital media and marketing group specializing in more creativity, ideas, and fun for action sports marketing, sportswear marketing, sports product marketing, active lifestyle consumer products, health product marketing, and brands in San Diego and Southern California.