When it comes to passively consumed video, we’ve seen it, done it. But virtual reality (VR) is not the traditional passive experience that allows you to look away. To watch a VR video at all, you must engage, because you have to turn your head, or your phone, or click and drag. This gives you the ability to look all around, see and experience new things, and listen to whatever, or whomever is there with you.
While the medium is still maturing, there's no doubt it's reached the point where it can be an effective tool for campaigns to engage voters. In addition to occupying a share of the marketing mix, it has proven useful in other ways. For instance, businesses like Walmart, fire departments and even medical schools are now using VR for training. Imagine a candidate improving their public speaking in front of a virtual rally, or meeting donors live in a VR setting through Facebook or YouTube. This isn’t farfetched. This is the current VR reality.
Still, the conventional wisdom is that this technology isn’t yet compatible with today’s campaigns. I disagree, so let’s dispel three myths that help support that outdated theory.
1- VR is a fad
Admittedly, the analysts severely overhyped the takeover by VR a couple years ago. But it’s beginning to live up to that early promise. Moreover, consider these facts I ran across recently in a Medium post by Chris Tan, CEO of ConstructVR, a tech distribution platform.
Tan noted that when the iPhone was launched in 2007, with massive media and a public frenzy, Apple sold 700,000 the first weekend. And sales at the end of the first year totaled a whopping 6,129,000. I don’t think anyone reading this wouldn’t give their left arm for numbers like that. Now, let’s look at first year Samsung Gear VR sales.
There were news stories floating around that 1 million people used the Gear VR in April of 2016, and that 300,000 units sold in Europe that May. But Samsung was very tightlipped about actual sales until January when they made the official year-one sales announcement: 5 million.
In the decade since the iPhone was introduced, smartphone penetration has surpassed 80 percent of the U.S. market. VR is projected to be on the same curve.
2- VR Is Expensive
Ballparking the cost of a VR shoot is a little like pricing out a home purchase. There are a lot of factors that dictate cost. Shoots can get into the hundreds of thousands, even millions if you want to work at it. But I can also get them done for in the $5,000-$10,000 range. Like most things in video production, you have to know who to call.
One warning, though -- just make sure you find someone who knows what they’re doing. If they don’t, the shoot itself may be inexpensive, but I can promise you the post production bill won’t be.
You should pay a little more up front for the right person’s knowledge, but they will save you a fortune down the road. The bottom line: VR is no more expensive than a traditional commercial or web video with the right consultant’s help.
3- Seniors won’t use it
Just google “seniors” and “VR” and see what you find. Not only are there tons of pro-VR seniors and headlines, but they’re empowering, and incredibly touching. In fact, MIT earlier this year awarded a tech startup for creating a VR platform that gives residents in assisted-living facilities the chance to explore the world virtually.
The platform also provides cognitive therapy and tracks movement data to aid in early diagnosis of dementia. One of the things I find most pertinent to a campaign - there have been many studies that show seniors love it because it connects them back to the world when they aren’t as mobile to share in it anymore.
Or reconnects them to their past. That gives them even more reason to engage with a campaign. It also staves off isolation, dementia, depression, motivates exercise, and who knows what else they’ll find. Maybe a video about your campaign? Seniors who have tried it, like it. Actually, they love it.
Art Haynie, is an award-winning VR/AR director and consultant, with a long background in traditional film making for Commercials, TV, Film, Promos, Music Videos, Digital and New Media. Art is based in Los Angeles, Calif.