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Biggest barriers to VR take-up are apps and accessories

Consumers say the need for additional software, apps and hardware is the greatest barrier preventing them from experiencing virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) digital advertisements, according to research from insperience marketing experts, Vibrant Media.

The research – which assessed opinions on VR and AR from over 3000 consumers from the US, UK and Germany – found that not knowing where to find VR and AR ads, and concerns that such ads might use up their mobile internet data allowance were identified as the second and third most likely barrier.

Craig Gooding, CEO and Founder of Vibrant Media, commented: “Content providers that require additional hardware to view content will only ever appeal to very niche audiences or on very niche occasions. The 3D TV market shows that simply requiring a pair of special specs was a huge barrier to adoption. VR and AR creatives in both the content and advertising sectors need to learn these lessons quickly or both consumers and brands will miss out on the benefits of immersive digital content. The VR and AR ads that achieve optimum scale and impact are both app-free and accessory-free, and are distributed natively from within the trusted, contextually-relevant and brand safe content consumers access via mobile browsers.”

“As the numerous publications that launched and then ditched content apps will tell you, the most important content app on every consumer’s mobile phone is the web browser. Requiring specific apps in addition to a mobile browser to experience VR & AR content is an insurmountable barrier for the majority of consumers, decimating the scale that such creative advertising can achieve. That lack of scale is likely to be one of the reasons so many consumers told the Vibrant Media research team that they didn’t know where to find VR and AR ads. Although 34.4 per cent of respondents have experienced 360 online video, just 15.4 per cent have experienced an advertisement in VR, and just 10.4 per cent have experienced an ad in AR.”

“That said, VR and AR app and hardware creators may want to look at the market for accessories to help consumers to generate their own immersive content. We’re already seeing demand for such content in consumers’ creation and distribution of 360 video and images on social media. 78 per cent of consumers who have experienced digital 360 degree video experiences rated them as either good or very good. Our own Vibrant 360°/VR insperiences attain 600 per cent higher interaction rates, 700 per cent higher content recall, 2700 per cent higher brand recall and 200 per cent more product intent compared to standard 2D video ad experiences. However, it’s still surprising that consumers ranked friends’ and family as their third most preferred source as creators of VR and AR content.”

Such high demand for user-generated VR and AR content was not the only surprise for Vibrant’s research team: there is a contrast in consumers’ levels of interest in receiving advertising as opposed to content from digital entertainment companies. Consumers are most interested in receiving VR and AR content experiences from film makers and cinema companies, followed by on demand digital entertainment companies, such as Netflix and Amazon Prime. The computer games industry comes fourth after user-generated VR and AR content.

However, when asked to consider advertising rather than content experiences from different sectors, consumers showed far stronger preference for VR and AR ads from holiday & travel companies, events and exhibitions, the property sector, and the automobile industry than from the digital entertainment industries.

“We know our own VR and AR insperience ad formats achieve extremely high levels of engagement. That’s partly because they’re user-initiated, they don’t require apps or hardware to view them, they’re LEAN, and because we place them natively within contextually relevant digital content that consumers trust. However, they’re also very entertaining. Hence we expected consumers would be more interested in ads from entertainment companies than other sectors. However, our researchers seem to have uncovered a surprising prioritisation of factual and functional advertising when choosing to view VR and AR ad creative. The demand for a range of immersive try-before-you-buy ads seems to be highest for products and services that require consumers to leave their regular real world environments – so holiday destinations, events and property viewings – and for high-value items, such as real estate purchases and vehicles. Consumers’ preference for facts and function from VR and AR ads doesn’t absolve creative teams from being entertaining, of course. Advertisers have to provide immersive and in-depth info in an entertaining manner,” conclued Gooding.

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