We recently welcomed VR and AR production expert Chris Elson, from leading agency Diverse Interactive, to our London office for a talk on everything you need to know about extended reality experiences and why you should consider leveraging the technology for your business.
About a year ago, the term ‘extended reality’ (XR) was introduced as an umbrella for virtual reality (VR), augmented reality (AR) and mixed reality (MR) technologies. XR refers to all computer generated or enhanced environments that either merge the physical and virtual worlds, or create an entirely immersive experience.
The technologies under the XR umbrella have varied applications and both VR and AR are growing in popularity with businesses who are looking to promote themselves or their products in a new way. The easiest way to understand the difference between virtual and augmented reality is that AR makes where you are now better, while VR takes you somewhere else. Augmented reality is the superimposition of digital content onto the real world, virtual reality is the complete immersion into a situation, scenario or environment.
By far, the most accessible technology for your business is AR. The recent Google I/O conference has changed the game for mainstream AR with the presentation of AR experiences straight from the search browser. This means that you will soon be able to see search results in your own home and to scale, and all you’ll need is Google search on your device. This ongoing innovation, partnered with the incentive for improvement, means that the mainstream use of XR technology is not just likely but inevitable.
Why should you consider XR for your business?
Now is the time to jump on the XR train! We’re no longer waiting for the technology to catch up, smartphones and tablets account for over 60% of all connected consumer devices which means there are over 1 billion AR ready devices in the world today.
The extended reality market right now is all about engagement and standing out from the crowd. The 21st century economy is massively competitive, and the market values the ability to produce anything that is unique and valuable. This means, as a business, it’s imperative to find new ways to present and deliver information in a way that makes people react, interact, learn and remember. There is no point in delivering your omnichannel marketing via the same channels as everyone else, you need to make your content stand out. XR gives you a new way to connect with the end user.
Where do you start?
We all know you should never create content for content’s sake. The same rule applies when it comes to XR experiences. You must determine whether your project is ‘valuable’ or ‘critical’. Valuable projects are technically difficult and make your business seem fun and current, but they don’t fundamentally transform the user experience. Critical projects are ones that cannot be done any other way and will fully transform the user experience. If an action can be done in another way then the end user will pick that other way. It’s safe and familiar, whereas XR is most likely uncharted territory. So always ask yourself if it can be done in any other way. If the answer is no, then you have a solid business case for the use of AR or VR.
How much does it cost?
There are many variables that will affect the cost of an XR project, so it’s difficult to provide an estimate without fully understanding what is needed. You should consider how visually impressive you need it to be, and what will resonate with your end user the most. To give an idea, a standard XR project will need involvement from a Creative Director, 3D Artist, Software Developer and QA Engineer as a minimum. The construction of an AR app can take upwards of 700 hours, so consider the hourly costs of your agency and that should give you a ballpark figure.
Should you choose VR or AR?
The first step in determining whether VR or AR is best for you and your business is to consider the consumer. There are 1 billion AR ready devices in the world already, and less than 50 million VR headsets in people’s homes. This means that VR is not yet a mass consumer channel, if you want to engage with the mass market then AR is the way to go.
AR has proven uses for product visualisation and demonstration, consumer goods and retail, location services and points of interest, and learning and education. VR is more specialised with application in enterprise and B2B, property, travel and tourism, automotive and health where it’s not necessary for the user to have their own device.
If you are looking to create unique, personalised, user-centric experiences for the mass market then AR will bridge the gap between the physical and digital worlds and provide unparalleled levels of engagement.
How should you track ROI?
If your project uses AR then you need to think in terms of return on engagement rather than investment. ROE is very AR orientated as it’s not just about how many people will download your app. You also have to consider the additional channels you’ll use for promotion. Otherwise it’s like building a website with no consideration for search marketing, it’s no good if nobody can find it. By delivering a new and interactive content experience to the user, you will create return on engagement and engaged customers spend more, buy more frequently and are more likely to be a brand advocate for your business.
We are operating in a mature market with lots of stagnation. There is a real opportunity for businesses to take advantage of the user’s desire for unique, personalised content. We already have the technology and devices, so now is the time to embrace it. The customer of today has high expectations and no time for poor content so own it and be committed, don’t go in half baked! Identify a critical opportunity, plan a pilot project and test it. The inevitability of mass market adoption for this technology means that there will soon be consumer demands for these content experiences and people will be asking brands ‘Where is your AR?’ rather than ‘Where is your website/Facebook/Instagram?’ - you don’t want to be left behind.
Remember, we also place amazing talent in this area. If you have a digital, marketing or creative hiring need then get in touch today and one of our agents will be happy to help.