What does the Oculus Rift launch mean for marketers?

Jason Dooris

  • CEO and founder, Atomic 212
Jason Dooris is the CEO and founder of growing Atomic 212, Australia's fastest growing media and marketing agency on the BRW 2014 list. Over the past 20 years, Jason has held a variety of senior local and global industry positions including CEO MediaCom UK, deputy CEO MediaCom Europe, GM Saatchi & Saatchi NZ, GM Ogilvy & Mather Australia, GM Dentsu Aegis Australia and consulting practice director, Deloitte Asia. His vertical experience covers most categories with a particular focus on retail, automotive and FMCG.

Facebook's Oculus Rift has finally launched. The highly anticipated product rollout has come with such a massive amount of buzz and hype that it’s difficult not to get pumped, even though there is such a backlog of orders for the device that it’s hard to call it an actual launch.

As a consumer, I'm eager to get my hands on my very own virtual reality goggles(I’m still waiting for mine to be delivered), to envelop myself in interactive 3D worlds. As an agency owner, I'm also excited at the possibilities for engaging virtual reality brand experiences, although I am still sitting in the ‘let’s wait and see’ camp. We’ve seen hype in the past, and it doesn’t always lead to a game-changer.

A war is brewing

There’s a war a-brewing. The big players are all battling for VR dominance, and Facebook has fired the latest salvo with its launch of the Oculus Rift. In fact, you can’t visit a single trade show these days without being bombarded on all sides by some form of VR or augmented reality. This momentum has been steadily gaining for a couple of years, but now seems to be reaching tipping point, particularly if you consider all the major product launches that are rolling out in 2016.

The Oculus Rift is the big name on everyone’s lips, but it is hitting the market amid a flurry of virtual reality and augmented reality activity. Other major launches in 2016 include the HTC Vive and Sony’s Playstation VR. And let’s not forget Google Cardboard – a cheap little cardboard device you attach to your phone and use to view 3D images and videos. Of course, this thrifty alternative will doubtlessly not be able to compete with the high-tech competitors, but you can bet your bottom dollar Google is working on something truly mind-blowing to take to its competitors.

Will VR live up to the hype?

But here’s the question on every adventurous marketer’s lips: What will VR mean for advertisers? Will the Oculus Rift live up to the hype?

I must admit, despite my excitement, I maintain a healthy dose of scepticism. I remember playing a virtual reality boxing game in Sydney back in the 1990s and thinking ‘Well this is a major letdown’. The buildup was more fun than the experience.

Until recently, this has been the issue with virtual reality – the tech has been unable to keep up with our imaginations.

There has been a definite shift in the last couple of years, a shift which has been pointed out on several occasions by Mark Zuckerberg. He obviously has an interest in peddling VR to the world – his company owns Oculus – but he has a point. He recalled recently that a couple of years back, people saw VR as a joke, destined for the scrap heap alongside all the other fads that never quite made it. But now, he believes the tech has well and truly caught up, and he is proclaiming the Oculus Rift as the future of social media.

Read more: Why virtual reality is opening a new world for customer interaction

There really is a sense of excitement in the air, and marketers should sit up and take notice. We live in a world where consumers are bombarded left, right and centre by brands and marketing messages. It’s so easy to get lost in all the noise. Imagine being able to engage with consumers in an immersive environment that is 100 per cent engaging. Imagine the opportunities from a content marketing point of view.

If the massive amount of competition in the market is anything to go by, then VR technology has certainly hit its strides, and the user experience has well and truly improved since the 1990s and my initial foray into less-than-impressive VR.

Don’t throw caution to the wind

Take a quick look at all the major companies getting involved in the VR space – you have the big players from the music industry, the film industry, the gaming industry and of course the adult entertainment industry all jostling for a seat at the table.

In the midst of it all, advertisers are sitting up and paying attention. The three dimensional video footage that you can find on YouTube is a small indication of the possibilities that VR might bring. I particularly love the content from Samsung: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7gjR60TSn8Q

But there has to be a word of caution. Just because the technology is amazing, it doesn’t mean marketers should necessarily be putting all their eggs into the VR basket. The content coming out of brands like Coca-Cola surely is amazing, but Coca-Cola has a big enough budget to invest in something risky and not see any rewards. The brand has the budget to fail in some areas. The question for all other marketers remains: Will Oculus Rift be a game-changer or just another gimmick?

Here’s a few factors that indicate caution is the name of the game. First, the headset: People have to don a bulky device, which removes them from the world around them. It may be highly immersive but it does require effort for consumers to immerse themselves.

Second, the cost is prohibitive. It isn’t overly expensive, and plenty of people in my agency have already sent away for the new device. But when you consider the fact that consumers have to buy a VR compatible computer to boot, then you start to see the price shooting up.

Of course, the launch of Facebook’s Oculus Rift marks the beginning of a whole host of VR devices. These will only improve over time, as new generation headsets hit the market.

The launch of the Oculus Rift is incredibly exciting. What’s more, there is the potential for major advertising opportunities. I’m not saying marketers should avoid VR, in fact I think VR is something that should be keenly followed and potentially embraced. But let’s wait to see a few case studies before we herald a new dawn of marketing.

Tags: emerging technology, digital marketing, virtual reality, Oculus Rift

Show Comments

Featured Whitepapers

State of the CMO 2020

CMO’s State of the CMO is an annual industry research initiative aimed at understanding how ...

More whitepapers

Latest Videos

More Videos

I found decent information in your article. I am impressed with how nicely you described this subject, It is a gainful article for us. Th...

Daniel Hughes

What 1800 Flowers is doing to create a consistent customer communications experience

Read more

Extremely informative. One should definitely go through the blog in order to know different aspects of the Retail Business and retail Tec...

Sheetal Kamble

SAP retail chief: Why more retailers need to harness data differently

Read more

It's actually a nice and helpful piece of info. I am satisfied that you shared this helpful information with us. Please stay us informed ...

FIO Homes

How a brand facelift and content strategy turned real estate software, Rockend, around

Read more

I find this very strange. The Coles store i shop in still has Flouro lights? T though this would have been the 1st thing they would have ...

Brad

Coles launches new sustainability initiative

Read more

Well, the conversion can be increased by just using marketing, but in general if you are considering an example with Magento, then it is ...

Bob

How Remedy is using digital marketing and commerce to drive conversion

Read more

Blog Posts

Why conflict can be good for your brand

Conflict is essentially a clash. When between two people, it’s just about always a clash of views or opinions. And when it comes to this type of conflict, more than the misaligned views themselves, what we typically hate the most is our physiological response.

Kathy Benson

Chief client officer, Ipsos

Brand storytelling lessons from Singapore’s iconic Fullerton hotel

In early 2020, I had the pleasure of staying at the newly opened Fullerton Hotel in Sydney. It was on this trip I first became aware of the Fullerton’s commitment to brand storytelling.

Gabrielle Dolan

Business storytelling leader

You’re doing it wrong: Emotion doesn’t mean emotional

If you’ve been around advertising long enough, you’ve probably seen (or written) a slide which says: “They won’t remember what you say, they’ll remember how you made them feel.” But it’s wrong. Our understanding of how emotion is used in advertising has been ill informed and poorly applied.

Zac Martin

Senior planner, Ogilvy Melbourne

Sign in