AR/VR/MR - Marketing with Virtual Reality or Why VR is more than just a cool new toy for digital marketers.

Personalisation, Engagement, Visualisation and Empathy. These are the qualities that stand out in successful marketing, regardless of sector, industry or audience.

Terminology first - VR stands for Virtual Reality.

An umbrella term for immersive multimedia and computer simulated reality.  AR stands for Augmented Reality. 360° Video with Information accessible hot spots for example. MR stands for mixed reality - immersive worlds blending the real with the virtual. DJI Goggles laying an overlay of information on top of the real world view.

Engagement is the holy grail. If content engages the attention, then users will linger. Google Analytics allows web site owners to see the 'bounce rate' of their audience - users that come to a site via a link and immediately leave register as a 'bounce'. A rate of between 30% and 40% is viewed as healthy. Anything above 50% indicates a serious lack of engaging content. This is why campaigns that offer no direct link to a product can be so successful. Red Bull being the principal exponents of this kind of approach.

On to the nitty gritty. The last five years have proved without doubt that personalisation, engagement and empathy are the most powerful selling mechanisms available to marketers. The message has even reached politics, leading inexorably to information harvesting, fake news and legislation such as the GDPR designed to prevent the excesses unleashed by irresponsible technocrats. It boils down to a simple truism, if a marketer can deliver a personalised experience that is engaging and invokes an emotional response then that is the job done. Ask Red Bull or Lego.

Personalisation is ever present on social media, the advertisements we are served are based on what the platform knows about us. This goes way beyond showing us things we like. Facebook for example knows whether or not we have visited certain websites (those augmented with the 'Facebook Pixel') and will serve an ad from that company's site if the visit is recent.

Visualisation plays into the Augmented Reality space - this is all about providing an experience that allows the user to 'play' with the content. Choose outfits from a range of styles and colours, mix and match the components, add make up and accessorise. A Virtual Tour allows you to wander around the estate that you're thinking of buying a new house in, enter the house and explore the layout. From the comfort of your current home!

Empathy is the sharing of emotion - 'feel with us' is the message. The Meerkats advertising campaign for is brilliant in this respect, a fictional tribe of russian descent, struggling to differentiate their fictional website from, the series' lethal effectiveness is epitomised by the 'meals for one' snippet where a delighted meerkat discovers the supermarket freezer containing ready meals for one, only to sigh 'meals for one' as the loneliness and futility of his existence come crashing in. At that point, who knows what the product is, we're in!

We produce videos and photography for brands and we see incremental change in the emphasis of imagery that work well. Our latest video, for RideVentures, a brand that promotes long distance cycle races is a case in point. We've focused on the rider's journey, a goal, the endurance, a steep gradient and finally a release where they stand at the summit of their journey looking out over the whole of Shropshire. I may even buy a bike!