Virtual reality (VR) has been on everyone’s mind lately. It is easily one of the most anticipated technological breakthroughs of the last decade. Mark Zuckerberg has been talking up the concept for a long time.
Now that Facebook recently introduced the world to Spaces, it’s looking like the time is finally here when we see VR become a significant part of our lives. Facebook Spaces is a VR experience that can be shared with up to three Oculus Rift (recently bought by Facebook) headset owners. Spaces and Messenger are brought together in which users can interact with each other through virtual windows.
Businesses of all industries are salivating at the possibilities of bringing this flashy element to their messaging. We’ve gotten a taste of how VR can have a profound impact on marketing — the United Nations’ Clouds Over Sidra video being a prime example.
There are three big possibilities.
With the creative possibilities being practically endless, there are several big changes Spaces could potentially bring to the marketplace. Let’s talk about three of the big ones.
1. Bridge the Gap Between Brick and Mortar and E-commerce
As it stands right now, one thing is becoming clear in the business world: brick and mortar retail stores are on the way out. 2017 has seen mass closures of stores once known as staples in every mall. Some of the big ones included Macy’s, Sears, JC Penny, and Kmart.
It seems as though we are at odds when it comes to shopping. The e-commerce customer experience is built upon a foundation of simplicity and convenience. As great as this concept is, online consumerism comes with drawbacks.
Perhaps the biggest one is you never really know what you’re getting until it shows up at your doorstep. Once Spaces begins to hit its stride and a full-on alternative VR universe presents itself, “brick and mortar” stores could take on a whole new meaning.
Businesses could set up full-equipped virtual stores with customer support employees readily available. Visitors would be able to get the experience of shopping at a brick and mortar establishment and the convenience and simplicity of online shopping. A 360-degree interactive look at items, no fighting traffic, no lines, and much less wasted time if it turns out the store doesn’t have what you need.
Now, it’s too early to tell exactly what role businesses will have in Spaces. As it was introduced the world only a few short weeks ago, it is the equivalent of a newborn in the tech landscape.
However, many are viewing this Zuckerberg brain child as a prodigy set to change the game. As it stands right now, it appears as if Spaces is primarily for forming deeper connections between friends. But then again, this was Facebook’s primary goal when it originally launched back in 2004.
2. Provide Group-Oriented, Immersive Experiences.
No one can argue the 21st century is an era chock-full of distractions (Facebook being one of them). Perhaps the biggest advantage of VR is that it immerses the user into a world void of all outside interruptions.
The experience is a personal journey through a parallel universe completely controlled by the host. This journey was, however, a solo one. Until now.
This is a central theme Spaces seems to be playing with. Virtual experiences are great, but they would be even better in groups. As an example from a business perspective, auto companies could potentially create hands-on VR modules for their new vehicles. From here, multiple people (like a family) could be placed directly in the car to get a feel for what exactly a long road trip would be like.
The possibilities go on and on. Regardless of what companies are trying to sell, marketing their product or service in an immersive group setting could be a difference-maker in boosting revenue.
3. Increased Personalization
Facebook is a gold mine for businesses to provide targeted, personalized marketing. If you sign up to a website with the convenient Facebook login option, that brand now has access to your interests and network. We’ve already seen targeted ads blatantly based on our likes. Imagine how this level of personalization will be when adding VR to the mix?
Here’s a scenario. Let’s say you love taking pictures of nature and posting them on Facebook. You previously liked Nikon’s Page. Now, Nikon could not only promote their newest camera built specifically for taking scenic shots, they could bring you to some of the locations where you’ve previously taken pictures. Now they can show you just how much better their new camera is–all through their virtual store on Spaces.
While this level of personalization is wishful thinking at this point, “Never say never,” seems to be a major saying as technology develops.
With nearly 2 billion Facebook users and over 1 billion on Messenger, using this networking platform for brand messaging is no longer an option for marketers.
As new VR campaigns begin to take shape, Spaces could cause the business world as we know to be turned upside down.