Virtual Reality Offers New Media for Marketers

Laura Ala, CMO, Zoan

Dynamic virtual reality is coming one step at a time. Most likely it’s not what you think – but much more.

Let’s imagine you put on your virtual glasses – and suddenly you’re in a different place, for example in an art exhibition in Ateneum, an art museum in Helsinki.

You’re standing in the middle of the room and you see a 360° view: lights, paintings on the wall, tourists gathered around a sculpture. Just like you were there yourself. When you turn around, you see the classic painting of the Finnish artist Eero Järnefelt that depicts the routines of the rural workers in the 1800’s. You stop to admire the piece of art: it looks so real.

This kind of 360° video or picture experience is already familiar to many. It is commonly called virtual reality (VR) which is slightly misleading. What combines 360° video and actual VR is the ability to move people to a different place, but dynamic virtual reality is much more. It’s not a picture or a video, but a whole three-dimensional world of its own. The best what VR has to offer, is to depict things that don’t exist at this moment, and to show a whole new point of view to familiar things. Let’s go back to the museum in virtual reality.

You’re walking towards the painting. It looks like it’s alive: the fire is burning and the smoke fills the air. The little girl in the front is looking at you. You grab the frames of the painting and step into the painting. Suddenly the painting tells you that you’re on the countryside in Northern Savonia at the end of 1800’s. You look at the field workers and you can see the misery and famine in their expressions, you think about the lunch you just had and start to feel embarrassed about your well-being. You decide to walk down the hill towards the forest. The smoke is getting to your eyes. The workers gaze at you when you stroll past them. After a while you look back. The girl of the painting has been following you. She looks at you and says: “My name is Johanna. Who are you?”

In dynamic virtual reality the visitor experiences the surroundings and can also have an impact on them. How does Johanna react when you tell her your name? What if you don’t answer her? This might sound like a computer game, but in the future VR will offer a whole new way to do other things than playing: to experience culture and entertainment, learn new skills and eventually to meet friends and do business. According to researchers, experiencing things in virtual reality is more convincing than seeing just a video, let alone a picture. To marketers and content producers VR offers a completely a new media.


When will virtual reality become part of the daily life?

Some say virtual reality is going to be a bigger revolution than the one caused by mobile technology. For example, a good comparison could be internet becoming popular. Right now many brands are in the introductory phase – just like many firms were at the end of 1990’s, when it was important to have a web page even though the content would have been a presentation text written with Times and a Word Art picture. Now the virtual reality pioneers are in a phase where the gains are already concrete. These companies include a lot of businesses from real estate and education and brands whose customers are early adopters.

Another area with a lot of things going on, is augmented reality (AR), where virtual elements are brought to the real world. In AR you could bring the painting from the museum digitally to your living room wall instead of going on an adventure to another dimension. The best-known example of augmented reality is the game Pokemon Go.


PING Helsinki challenge for content producers

Technically, virtual reality is easy to make more accessible for the audience. The professional devices cost only some thousands anymore, game consoles have additional VR devices and with cardboard glasses and a smartphone nearly anyone can access the virtual contents. But as stated previously in PING Helsinki, technology itself is not enough, if you don’t have interesting content to offer.

We at Zoan want to challenge you PING Helsinki Content Gurus and Business Hippies. We have created a virtual city center of Helsinki, where you can already do this and that: go to apartment viewings, get to know the Senate Square in the 1830’s or hop on a train and travel to Saint Petersburg. But what else could Helsinki have and what could we use it for? Should we fly over the city and paint all the roofs with different colours? Should we have a concert at the Three Smiths Statue?

Tell us your ideas and come test virtual reality at PING Helsinki Business Festival 28th of April!

Laura Ala,

Original article (in Finnish)