2017 paved the way for some interesting new digital marketing and promotional areas for companies to explore, but will they choose to go there?

By: Alexander Acker and Jason Fortuna

Last year was explosive for news, with incredible changes afoot, but it was also a year that put some new, emerging marketing technologies into the spotlight.

For the most part, traditional digital tactics have remained strong. Email remains the most targeted tool that we deploy for companies. It’s easy to launch and most effective to track, analyze, and re-deploy. Landing pages and microsites drive home the value proposition and capture the lead. Digital animation makes it easy to consume content by simplifying the complex and creating stunning visuals that make the experience come alive. Used together, it’s a powerful combination designed to capture leads and drive sales.

But with new technologies being deployed to the general public, like self-driving cars on the road, why aren’t more marketers taking advantage of the latest marketing and promotional tools available to generate WOW factor with their clients and differentiate their brand?

Historically, as new technology is launched, there are two different positions on it: early adoption or wait-and-see. The early adopters lead the pack and create the buzz that, in addition to marketing and advertising, eventually flips the more conversative wait-and-seers. In this case, most of these new technologies have been available for 10+ years, but haven’t been easily accessible to the mainstream until the availability of smartphones. But companies today haven’t adopted new emerging technologies in marketing strategies fast enough. Here are some potential reasons why:

  • It requires an investment to develop for new platforms
  • It’s new and there’s not much data on campaign effectiveness and ROI
  • It requires customers to have hardware (at least a smartphone)

And while most companies may be hesitant to try, the early adopters in marketing are out there testing to see what new experiential tactics resonate and delight their customers with new ways to experience their product or service.

New experiential frontiers to explore

Let’s take a look at four key marketing and promotional tactics to consider for 2018 and beyond:

Augmented reality

Augmented Reality

Even though Apple recently embraced augmented reality, it’s been around since the early 90s and only became popular again with the smartphone boom, starting with the original iPhone in 2007. Augmented reality is the blend of computer-generated elements into real-world situations.

Companies that are successfully taking advantage of this technology are able to blend reality and the abstract. Examples include:

  • A furniture manufacturer that allows you to see how their new 2018 furniture line will look in your home
  • An educational company that creates fun augmented mixed reality games to delight and engage with young learners
  • A real estate company that creates a tool to help their customers see real-time home values by pointing a phone at any home

How to get started with augmented reality:

  • Define the needs of the project
  • Create storyboards or mockups
  • Design the AR elements, such as shelfs or couches, game characters, or informational flags
  • Develop the AR app for the selected platform, such as iOS, Android, or Microsoft’s HoloLens
  • Test and deploy the AR app
Virtual reality

Virtual Reality

Remember Lawnmower Man back in 1992? That was the first real introduction of virtual reality to the masses, but it was more fiction than reality. Today, marketers can create VR content in a number of ways, spanning from the computer-based VR units like Oculus, to numerous smartphone-based viewers including Google Cardboard, Dream and others.
In our experience of creating VR content, marketers are looking for a complete  redefinition of how they’ve traditionally presented a product or service in the past, along with an experience that is creative and immerses the user into another world.

Marketers could also help their clients experience VR content by providing them with a low-cost device like Google Cardboard. A quick search on Amazon will reveal hundreds of devices available and companies like Unofficial Cardboard will help brands customize their viewers.

How to get started with virtual reality:

  • Define the VR experience including scope, creative strategy, and user experience
  • Create storyboards and define user interactions. For example, a user clicks on a bird to make it fly away
  • Design the virtual world and elements in a 3D software, such as Maya or Cinema 4D
  • Develop the Virtual Reality app in any number of platforms, such as Unity or Unreal
  • Test and retest the VR app in numerous mobile devices of various technical specifications
  • Deploy the VR app to the App Store or Google Play
  • Develop a customized Cardboard viewer to enhance the experience
360° videos

360 video

360° videos are an incredible way to provide a virtual experience with or without a VR viewer. This means you can view content on a computer and explore in and around the space with your mouse or immerse yourself in the experience with a VR viewer. Major media outlets are adapting the format in both animated and filmed formats and exposure is quickly growing.
It’s a great way to get virtual content to your audience without the need to create an app or going through the approval process for iTunes or Google Play Stores

How to get started with creating 360º videos:

  • Define how a user will experience your 360° content
  • Create an impactful script that keeps in mind the wide arena of the 360° landscape
  • Develop script and storyboards with a centralized focal point
  • Craft the 360º environment and animation in a 3D program such as Cinema 4D
  • Host the 360º movie on websites such as YouTube or Vimeo that have native 360º capabilities
Interactive experiences

If you’re at a conference, it seems like every booth has a video screen playing, but how often do conference goers actually stop in their tracks and want to experience it? A surefire way to create engagement with your digital content is  to create an interactive experience using touchscreens, which invite viewers to engage with the content in a more direct way.
Interactive touchscreen experiences utilize self-guided content which allows the user to make choices to move to certain spaces or learn more about product or service offerings. Ideally, the experience should be engaging enough that a user chooses to spend time interacting with the content and learning more about the offering. Being self-guided, the sales expert has the ability to communicate the benefits and answer questions while the customer is captivated.

How to get started with creating interactive experiences:

  • Create a game plan of what needs to be included in the interactive experience
  • Define the interactive experience and technology to be deployed. For example, will it require 360º or standard videos?
  • Develop the script and storyboards, keeping in mind the user interface and interactive touchpoints
  • Develop the interactive app using programs such as Unity, Unreal or web-based solutions such as Intuilabs

Choose experiential marketing as part of your 2018 digital marketing plan.

Augmented and virtual reality are finally going mainstream and have a lot of exciting potential to push your marketing boundaries. 360º videos and interactive experiences can elevate your message and give it that extra WOW to make it memorable with potential customers. No matter which direction you choose to pursue, differentiate your brand by incorporating emerging technologies into your marketing strategy before the competition does.

Alexander Acker is President and Jason Fortuna is Art Director of Adventure House, a digital agency in NYC specialized in web, marketing, animation, and VR.
For questions or inquiries, please contact Alex at aa@adventurehousenyc.com or 212-243-6867 x212.