Marketing Dive: What marketers need to know about AR/VR for 2017

By David Kirkpatrick

Following a breakout year for experiential technologies, four experts highlight rising risks and challenges, and where the next creative horizons are.

One of the biggest splashes in marketing technology this year was the true arrival of two long-promised formats — augmented and virtual reality.

AR, for its part, found an unexpected hype machine in the viral mobile game Pokemon Go this summer. The Nintendo/Niantic app — which recently announced its first U.S. brand partners in Sprint and Starbucks — was the first augmented reality venture to capture the attentions of the public and marketers alike, providing the latter with a blueprint on how the technology can bridge the on- and offline mobile experience.

Virtual reality, which has seemingly crept “right around the corner” for years, finally showed in 2016 that it’s ready to push past niche spaces like gaming. Big tech leaders like Google and Facebook have been ramping up VR/AR R&D and acquisitions, along with opening up more tools for developers. Judging by holiday ads this season, many other players are also excited about the accelerated mainstream adoption of the technology.

On that front, Juniper Research released a study in October that forecasts spend on VR hardware could crack $50 billion by 2021, and reports from the International Data Corporation suggest VR devices will ship up to 61 million units by 2020. As hardware ends up in consumer hands at a faster rate than ever, marketers should consider 2017 as the testing grounds for new heights that can be reached via AR/VR.

“In a world where the average attention span is only eight seconds — shorter than that of a goldfish — augmented reality and virtual reality offer another way for marketers to capture and hold attention,” said Jim Cridlin, managing director of digital strategy for WPP’s Mindshare North America. “It’s opening up a whole new canvas for storytelling and brand exploration.”

To hear more from Cridlin, including how marketers can avoid ‘random acts of digital,’ read the rest of the piece on Marketing Dive: