06 Dec 2016

Is VR Worth It?

Has VR had it’s day? Or is it only just beginning? Virtual Reality has been a whir of hype and a constant drone of… potential. The frenzy surrounding the digital realm of the virtual world is very much buzzing around the possibilities of creating, gaming and of course, advertising in this simulated biosphere. But is it all worth it?

When you first think of VR, minds race between Black Mirror-esque scenes of full immersion, living in a uber-realistic simulation of a real location…perhaps forever. Yet, by stripping away the mania surrounding developments in VR we’re left with the possibility to create realistic environments and an immersion experience…something we can utilise right now in advertising.

User Engagement; a worthwhile outlet for VR?

How often in advertising does something come along that gives us the chance to explore something completely new? Could VR become the pinnacle of advertising itself?  

If you haven’t tried VR, it might sound like a ridiculous idea to consider. Looking at the race for the highest level of attention from the largest number of eyeballs, we have long dreamed of making slick, well-produced and of course, expensive ads. But VR could leave brands creating experiences on the cutting edge of tech and advertising, meaning virtual reality campaigns could soon be more than just a Hail Mary.

Increasing brand recognition with VR

Some brands have already reached huge audiences with their VR experiences. Before the NBA All-Star Game in Toronto earlier this year, Mountain Dew partnered with Google and Tilt Brush to create an experience featuring NBA stars and local Toronto artists painting in VR. The experience picked up a mind-blowing 150 million views.

Here at Don’t Panic we were quick to immerse ourselves in the world of VR. Following the phenomenal success of our TMI film with The National Autistic Society, we produced a 360 degree virtual reality video of it, to help audiences to feel firsthand what it might be like to get too much information.


Impossible experiences made possible

There’s a real wonder to behold when it comes to virtual reality as it provides us essentially with the possibility to make anything possible. However, Jeremy Bailenson, a professor of communication at Stanford University and the founder and director of its Virtual Human Interaction Lab, despite being a VR advocate, is also a skeptic. Bailenson believes that while VR is potent, it is also taxing. His research has shown that VR experiences can change individuals perception of themselves and its visceral nature can in fact trick the human brain into mistaking it for reality…getting closer to Black Mirror now aren’t we?

Arguably, full immersion doesn’t come without danger. Bailenson himself has a “20-minute rule” for VR experiences and he ultimately feels that VR should be reserved for special experiences. An idea you can get behind if you think about it in the sense that VR should be saved  to create experiences, well, worth creating (or recreating). It makes sense to have create experiences that would otherwise be expensive, dangerous, impossible or rare. This way, you can climb Kilimanjaro without the risk, visit the statue of David without the cost, do the utterly ridiculous like grow a third arm, or go whale watching and guarantee you’ll see some whales.

We are surely destined for the eerie realms of Black Mirror, so why limit an almost limitless technology?

VR; worth it or not?

So…is it really worth it? HELL YES. Creating virtual reality adverts are an an ultimate expression of a brand experience. It allows for content to be completely immersive and therefore create an emotional connection with the consumer, hooking them in from the outset and throughout. Transforming audiences into consumers and ultimately into fanbases.