Augmented Reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) have emerged as powerful tools in the field of public relations, or PR. AR and VR allow brands to create immersive experiences for their target audience and offer numerous benefits in terms of customer satisfaction, nurturing consumer-brand relationships. With recent advancements in technology, AR and VR have become more accessible and are being used in various PR initiatives, such as 360-degree videos on platforms like Facebook.
While widespread adoption of tech like AR and VR is still evolving, these technologies are already being leveraged by agencies and marketers in innovative ways. According to a panel of experts from the Forbes Agency Council, there are many ways that VR and AR are expected to transform the advertising, marketing, and PR landscape.
But first, a quick look at the numbers. AR and VR make up a hefty piece of the technology pie. The global VR market size is expected to reach $62.1 billion by 2027, growing at a CAGR of 21.6% from 2020 to 2027 (PRNewswire). According to Statista, 2020 saw 171 million active VR users worldwide. The gaming industry is one of the major drivers of VR adoption, with VR gaming revenue projected to reach $12.2 billion in 2025 (Statista).
VR-based training programs can improve learning retention rates by up to 80% compared to traditional methods, per the World Economic Forum. And Mordor Intelligence found that the healthcare industry is utilizing VR for medical training, therapy, and pain management. It is estimated that the global VR healthcare market will reach $2.4 billion by 2026.
So how about augmented reality? Its global market size is estimated to reach $340.16 billion by 2028, growing at a CAGR of 43.8% from 2021 to 2028 (PRNewswire). In 2020, there were about 598 million mobile AR users worldwide, and this number is expected to surpass 1 billion by 2021, according to Statista.
AR is increasingly used in e-commerce, with 61% of shoppers preferring to shop at stores that offer AR experiences (Deloitte). Allied Market Research found that the global AR healthcare market is expected to reach $4.04 billion by 2027, driven by applications such as surgical visualization, remote collaboration, and patient education.
The AR/VR pie is getting bigger, too. The combined market of VR and AR - known as mixed reality, or MR - is predicted to exceed $1.5 trillion by 2030, per PwC. As MR tech continues to advance, the enterprise and industrial sectors are expected to drive adoption, with applications in training, simulation, and remote collaboration (Deloitte).
AR is increasingly integrated into social media platforms, with Snapchat's AR feature, Lens, being used by over 180 million people daily (Snap Inc.). The education sector is embracing VR and AR, with 93% of teachers believing that immersive technologies can positively impact students' learning outcomes (Immersive Learning Research Network).
So with MR growing and improving constantly, the aforementioned Forbes Agency Council experts have a list of ways that this new tech is poised to impact advertising, marketing, and PR.
VR and AR offer the potential for creating highly personalized ad experiences that resonate with individual consumers. These technologies can put users into the story, making the ad feel more personal. Targeted advertising, as we know, lets businesses reach the right audience with personalized and relevant messages, increasing the likelihood of engagement, conversion, and a higher return on investment (ROI).
Social media platforms are utilizing AR and VR technologies to create interactive shopping experiences for users. Integrating this tech lets platforms like Snapchat enable users to try products virtually and visualize how they would look in real life before making a purchase decision. This enhanced online shopping experience not only increases user engagement but also provides a unique way for brands to showcase their products and differentiate themselves in the market.
AR shopping features, such as virtual try-ons and product visualizations, give users a better understanding of how a product will fit or look in their surroundings, reducing uncertainty and increasing confidence in their purchasing decisions. This not only enhances the user experience but also improves customer satisfaction and reduces the likelihood of returns, ultimately benefiting both consumers and businesses. With the continuous advancements in AR and VR technologies, the potential for transforming the online shopping landscape and driving sales growth is significant.
VR has the potential to replace in-person events and conferences, providing a quasi-replacement that offers personal engagement opportunities without the need for travel. As VR technology advances, virtual events can offer sensory experiences that rival physical gatherings - and that’s important to PR, considering that PR events can constitute a significant part of a marketing campaign.
While the world is still breathing a sigh of relief after the devastation wrought by the pandemic, we have become hyper-aware of the need for virtual alternatives should such a situation ever arise again (heaven forbid!) - and MR lets us do just that. In fact, MR technologies can allow those who - due to health or financial reasons - are unable to travel at the best of times, allowing them to remain a part of their community.
From a PR perspective, VR and AR create unprecedented opportunities for journalists, bloggers, reporters, and other media personnel to experience products or services in new ways. These technologies allow media personalities to explore events, facilities, and destinations without the need for physical visits, offering a unique way to discover and showcase newsworthy content. This saves everyone involved valuable time and money.
This allows any of these professionals who struggle with travel due to health, financial, or personal reasons to continue to participate in valuable PR initiatives, experiencing and promoting key products to the market. The list is also beginning to include influencers and content creators, who add value to marketing with product recommendations.
Virtual experiential marketing refers to the use of MR tech to create interactive experiences that allow consumers to engage with a brand or product in a virtual environment. It goes beyond traditional marketing methods by providing users with a simulated experience that can replicate real-life situations or offer unique, imaginative scenarios.
In virtual experiential marketing, brands use VR and AR technologies to transport consumers into a virtual world where they can interact with products, services, or brand messaging. This can include virtual tours, interactive product demonstrations, virtual events, or gamified experiences. This lets brands create memorable and impactful experiences that resonate with their target audience.
Virtual experiential marketing has gained popularity due to its ability to create a deeper emotional connection between the brand and the consumer. It allows users to engage with a brand in a more personal and interactive way, enabling them to explore and experience products or services in a virtual setting. This form of marketing can be particularly effective in industries such as travel, real estate, entertainment, and retail, where the immersive nature of VR and AR can provide a more realistic and engaging experience for consumers.
MR tech ties into brand interactions and app integrations via online product listings and reviews, providing consumers with interactive brand experiences. As tech giants like Google make AR integrations more accessible, brands can use MR to offer innovative and exciting experiences to their consumers.
One example of AR/VR brand interactions and app integrations is the furniture retailer IKEA. They have developed an AR app called IKEA Place, which allows users to virtually place furniture items in their homes using their smartphone or tablet. By leveraging AR technology, customers can see how different pieces of furniture would look and fit in their space before making a purchase decision. This interactive experience enhances the customer's shopping journey and increases their confidence in the products.
Another example is the beauty brand Sephora, which has integrated AR technology into its app. The Sephora Virtual Artist feature allows users to virtually try on different makeup products, including lipstick, eyeshadow, and foundation, using their device's camera. Customers can experiment with different shades and see how they look on their face in real-time, providing a much more personalized makeup shopping experience.
Obviously, VR and AR are already gaining traction among gaming audiences. With the highly interactive nature of VR and AR, gamers are drawn to these experiences that provide a heightened level of engagement and immersion in virtual worlds.
This growing popularity of VR and AR among gamers presents a multitude of marketing opportunities for brands. By leveraging these technologies, brands can tap into the gaming community and offer unique experiences that go beyond traditional advertising methods. They can create branded virtual environments, interactive storytelling, and gamified experiences that allow gamers to actively engage with their products or services.
VR and AR provide an opportunity for brands to connect with gamers on a deeper level, fostering a sense of excitement and personal connection. Through these technologies, brands can create marketing campaigns like virtual product launches, in-game experiences, and interactive advertisements. By embracing VR and AR, brands can forge stronger connections with the gaming community and establish themselves as innovative and forward-thinking.
In a VR and AR hybrid experience, users typically wear a headset or use a mobile device that combines VR and AR capabilities. They are presented with a virtual world overlaying the real world, enhancing their perception and interaction with their surroundings. Users can see and interact with virtual objects or information superimposed on their real environment, creating a mixed reality experience.
These hybrid experiences offer a range of possibilities across various industries. For example, in the entertainment industry, VR and AR hybrid experiences can be used to craft intense theme park attractions, where users can explore virtual worlds while also engaging with physical elements within the attraction. In education, hybrid experiences can provide interactive learning environments, combining virtual simulations with real-world objects to enhance the educational experience.
For PR, VR/AR hybrid tech will become more relevant as people continue to incorporate virtual and in-person experiences like virtual concerts or shows. These hybrid events offer opportunities for brands and advertisers to engage consumers with immersive content and novel experiences.
Enter empowered pre-decision-making processes. This refers to the utilization of MR to enhance the decision-making process before taking any significant actions. With VR and AR, professionals can gather and analyze data, simulate scenarios, and visualize outcomes, providing them with a deeper understanding of the potential consequences and opportunities. Diving into virtual environments, they can test hypotheses, evaluate different strategies, and assess the impact of their decisions, ultimately leading to more informed and confident choices.
Empowered pre-decision-making processes with VR and AR offer a proactive and innovative approach to problem-solving, allowing professionals to mitigate risks, optimize outcomes, and stay ahead in a rapidly evolving business landscape. The combination of emotional intelligence (EQ) and intelligent algorithms (IQ) allows for a scientific approach to strategy and helps agencies add value to their marketing efforts.
It’s like having a secret weapon that combines EQ and IQ algorithms, offering a scientific advantage in shaping effective strategies. Using AR and VR, agencies can transcend conventional approaches and deliver substantial value to their marketing efforts, ensuring resonance with the target audience and achieving impactful results.
VR is revolutionizing the way we learn and perform by offering fully immersive experiences that mimic real-world scenarios. Imagine stepping into a virtual environment where you can practice complex surgical procedures, pilot an airplane, or even explore distant planets. These simulations provide a safe and controlled space for training, allowing individuals to gain hands-on experience without the risks associated with real-life situations.
Medical professionals can hone their skills; employees can master intricate tasks; students can delve into interactive educational modules.
VR has the potential to accelerate learning and improve performance across a wide range of industries. Engaging multiple senses lets VR unlock new levels of engagement, retention, and skill development. It's like having a personal laboratory where mistakes can be made, learned from, and perfected, leading to enhanced expertise and competence.
As the audience size for VR and AR continues to expand, new and exciting opportunities arise for branding and customer acquisition. These technologies can be seamlessly integrated into existing online advertising channels, allowing brands to reach their target audience in innovative and captivating ways. With VR and AR, companies can create immersive experiences that deeply resonate with consumers, leaving a lasting impression and fostering strong brand connections.
The realistic and immersive nature of VR and AR enhances engagement and captures attention, making them powerful tools for grabbing the interest of potential customers. As these technologies become more prevalent, brands that embrace novel approaches to branding and acquisition through VR and AR will gain a competitive edge in the market. This is a key way for companies to unlock new possibilities for growth and success.
Imperium Group is an American public relations and marketing consultancy firm. Founded in 2016, it specializes in guaranteed placements, creating utmost transparency for its clients. Imperium Group generates over 15M impressions a month for its clients. Its team is based out of New York, Dallas, and Los Angeles.
For more information about Imperium Group, please see https://navigator.imperiumgrouppr.com/.