Are virtual and augmented reality worth the hype?

The market for immersive technologies is projected to reach $120 billion by 2020, yet many remain skeptical. Are we on the brink of a marketing revolution, or is this another passing fad?

The future of digital marketing is here—or is it?

People have been touting virtual and augmented reality for years, but the tandem technologies have yet to take hold. Brand managers and consumers have been hesitant to dive into this emerging yet widely misunderstood trend.

MDG Advertising has produced an infographic that explains the difference between virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR), how organizations and brand managers are using each, and a few bold predictions about where the technologies are heading.

The infographic points out that AR is used to enhance physical surroundings by overlaying content amid real-world objects. VR, meanwhile, offers an immersive experience that “transports users into another realm” via surround sound and 360-degree video. Most VR requires a headset, whereas AR can be implemented through an app or specialized eyewear.

Coca-Cola has created a VR sleigh ride with Santa, Tom’s has a “virtual giving trip” that simulates a charitable experience in Peru, and Marriott is using VR to offer 360-degree tours of their hotels.

Meanwhile, Ray Ban is using AR for its “virtual try-on,” which gives you an idea of how sunglasses will fit your face. Northern Lighting uses AR to let shoppers visualize what certain pieces would look like in their homes.

If you have reservations about all this, you’re not alone. The graphic says only 8 percent of organizations are using virtual reality; a mere 7 percent are implementing augmented reality. The graphic cites three barriers preventing AR and VR from infiltrating mainstream marketing:

  • Inadequate content offerings
  • Reluctance about new technology
  • Technological limitations

The infographic cites predictions that there will be 154 million VR headset users by 2020 and that the combined market for VR and AR will reach $120 billion by the same year.

Many wait to see whether immersive technologies will ever fulfill their perceived potential. Will the fad fade into obscurity, shape the future of content production or land somewhere in between? Read the rest of the infographic below, and decide for yourself.

Virtual and Augmented Reality: What Brands Need to Know [Infographic]


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