If 2016 was the year Virtual Reality began to audition for its big role, 2017 will be time for the platform to make it big on Broadway. VR will start to see major scale in the next year and we will see the investment from the last two years begin to pay off. Brands will be more excited  than ever to associate with and take advantage of this new medium.  While marketers began to take baby steps with 360 Video and Virtual Reality experience in 2016, we are confident that there will be even greater investment and bigger stories in 2017.

The Cucumbertown Monthly update- December 2016

Before projecting into 2017, we think it is important to remind ourselves of the sheer potential that 360 videos and VR advertising can offer brands looking to get immerse their audience in their brand’s story.

Since an actual video is going to do a better job of explaining what this means, check out this example of a creative from Infinity developed using OmniVirt.

So as you can see, this is the future of advertising.

Want to buy car? Check out what it is like sitting in the driver’s seat revving the engine. A prospective new home buyer? Tour the properties with content created by real estate companies and make your choice sitting under your blanket on a Sunday morning sipping a mug of coffee. Thinking of taking a hike to the Himalayas? You are just one tap away from seeing what scaling the mountain means.

These are just a few examples, but it is already clear that the scope is tremendous.

But with all the hype around Virtual Reality for marketers there were certainly challenges in 2016 that caused everyone to be cautious with their investment into this space. Let’s review these challenges in a bit more detail and discuss how things are already changing for a great VR run in 2017.

One big challenge in getting up and running with a VR campaign has been the actual cost involved in creating this content. While it was true that costs were initially high, and brands had to think twice before making the call to invest in this new form of content, that is not the case any more. With giants like Facebook and Google open sourcing their 360° Video cameras and cost effective options like Samsung Gear coming into the picture, creating 360° Videos should no longer put a strain on the marketing budget like it once did. An entire cottage industry and creative production companies has emerged to support VR and 360 Video content creation. With more companies developing expertise in the creative process, the cost of this creative service has already fallen.

Scale

Two major issues limited scale for marketers in 2016: Platform fragmentation and limited consumer reach.

Platform fragmentation was a real challenge in 2016 and may continue to be one. Anyone looking to experiment with VR has to consider 5 to 6 platforms. But with Google Daydream, Oculus, Vive, Samsung and other VR pioneers moving to create industry standards and the emergence of WebVR, this challenge is going away as well.

Limited reach was also major challenge in 2016. Once investing in costly production, ensuring that audiences could find that content became the next unanswered question. There were limited headsets on market this year and while this holiday season will be changing that, at OmniVirt we looked to solve this for our clients already. Our HTML5 and pre-roll ad units scale programmatically through existing ad networks and exchanges. With no reliance on native players and apps for specific platforms to view this content OmniVirt has helped its customers to achieve greater scale and cross platform distribution.

Out Of Reach Technology

One thing that has always been associated with VR is the hefty price of the headsets and the fact that the technical specs of our mobiles, laptops and tablets need to be very ‘high end’ to experience VR. Let me tell you why this is no longer the case. For your audience to experience VR advertising through 360 Video there is no prerequisite for a VR headset. You can simply turn your smartphones to experience the 360 videos. Or drag on your desktop. If you do want to get the full breadth of the VR experience using the headsets, the cost parameter is becoming a lesser concern with headsets. Apart from the premium gear rolled out by the big guys like Oculus Rift and HTC Vive, there are cost efficient options flooding the market. The most popular example of this is Google Cardboard, which is as  budget friendly as it can get at its $20 cost point. It’s only a matter of time before VR headsets become as commonplace as our earphones.

With OmniVirt you don’t need to worry even the slightest bit about this. The platform is as easy to use as uploading your photograph on Facebook.

Being Compartmentalised into Gaming

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While gamers are diving head first into this new medium, we have seen virtually every industry explore this space in 2016 as well. From entertainment, to real estate to healthcare, even The British Museum used VR to transport their visitors to the Bronze. VR advertising too found its first year of steady growth. Volvo, Marriott, Topshop, Time Inc and even the first lady Michelle Obama dabbled in VR marketing. At Omnivirt, the growth has been phenomenal. We are already seeing the benefits of the exposure 2016 gave VR.  And the road forward will see many more industries joining in to experience VR advertising. So the concern that VR is just a gaming platform is simply not the case.

And there is a huge advantage to being an early adopter of new technology. Those marketers that were early to adopt video, early to adopt mobile, early to adopt social all saw massive benefits. So why not be an early adopter here as well? Challenges obviously still remain, but most of the concerns that brands faced in 2016 are being addressed if not completely eliminated. 2017 is poised for exciting things.

So if you have been thinking of creating 360 videos to either give your marketing strategy that extra push or to simply check out what VR ads look like, don’t look any further, we are here to help! Give us a shout on our Contact Us form and we’ll get back right back to you on that. And until we bring you more news from the world of Virtual Reality, check out some of our demos to get a good idea of what the potential is!

This post was originally published on our Medium magazine. Don’t forget to check it out for all exciting Virtual Reality updates.