Survey: AR/VR Still Hot In Spite Of Elusive ROI

Survey: AR/VR Still Hot In Spite Of Elusive ROI

Augmented and virtual reality are no longer fantasy for marketers. In fact, nearly half of respondents to this year’s survey of North American Effie Awards Final Round judges identified AR and VR, as they’re known, as the future-forward technologies that will capture the most time, attention and dollars from advertisers in the year ahead. Close behind are artificial intelligence, chatbots and machine learning.

Meanwhile, content and mobile are the top areas of investment for marketers this year, according to this year’s survey, conducted in partnership with the Forbes CMO Network.


“We’re fascinated that ‘content’ was the top response to the question about the largest increase in investment this year for top brands and clients as there is no real singular definition of content yet, and we’re excited to see how that creative expression manifests itself,” said Neal Davies, CEO and President, Effie Worldwide.

Judging for this year’s competition was held at the Sofitel in New York in March; during that time more than 130 judges from the advertiser, agency and media sides — including  Amazon, IBM, Activision, Diageo, Target, Wells Fargo, CVS Health, Mars Chocolate, J. Walter Thompson, 180LA, UM, 360i — were surveyed on marketing-effectiveness trends. A majority of respondents were from agencies.


Facebook is the social channel that will see the most action from advertisers, followed by Snapchat and Instagram. Meanwhile, the entertainment app category (think Hulu and Netflix) will receive the most investment, with music-streaming apps also used heavily (looking at you, Spotify and Pandora).


But for all of the investment in the hottest platforms and technologies for brand engagement, ROI remains elusive. Nearly a quarter of respondents said measuring ROI is the biggest impediment to achieving effective marketing communications today, followed by internal organizational structure and agency/client relationship.

“From customer perspective, one of the biggest things holding us back is clutter and overload,” said Tim Mahoney, CMO of General Motors. “The overload and clutter the customer faces make it harder for marketers to press through and get their messages heard.”


And having the right data is a perennial challenge. To achieve effective marketing, shopper and browsing behavior data is most valuable, according to the survey, followed by channel engagement.


No surprise, then, that the talent and/or expertise that marketers and agencies will be adding to their ranks in the year ahead is overwhelmingly people with data and analytics capabilities; more than half of respondents indicated so. Content-marketing specialists are next most valuable, followed by people with strategy expertise and then those with media smarts.


In fact, an inability to effectively decipher data is the biggest impediment holding back the marketing and advertising industry — even moreso than last year.


“In an ideal, new world, big data would lead to big insights without pause, but clearly, the hiring responses to the survey indicate that this is an area that the industry knows it needs to get to grips with,” Davies said.


So how does an embrace of future-forward technologies help or hurt advertising effectiveness?


“The Effie Method of Assessment requires detailed responses to four questions:


1. What were your challenges and objectives?

2. How did you think about them strategically and what insights did you derive to get to your big idea? 

3. How and where did you bring your big idea to life?

4. Did it work when mapped against your objectives in question 1?


This is how entrants enter and how judges judge every year,” Davies said.


“Over the last 48 years, answers to questions 1, 2 and 4 have remained pretty much consistent, but the changes are most apparent in question 3, where we examine how and where ideas are brought to life: In 1968, it was largely print or TV. In 2008 we were beginning to see digital and interactive components and in 2018, no doubt we’ll begin to see AR, AI and VR,” he said.


“Either way, we’ll still be measuring success in question 4 whether it’s derived from a print ad or an immersive AR experience.


“Regardless of technology or audience, I think that the core skills of our industry remain: identify your challenge, agree on objectives, use data to determine an insight, find the best way to engage your audience and then measure it. The fact that that penultimate segment — find the best way to engage your audience — changes depending on technology is where it gets exciting," Davies said.


And clarity of goals upfront is vital, said Mahoney. “Effectiveness is dependent on the goals you set out to achieve.”

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