OmniVirt on VR: Mindshare@Cannes

While at the Cannes Lions Festival, we took some time to sit down with a few of our partners to find out what advice they have for marketers, and what they need to adapt for in 2020. Find out why OmniVirt Co-Founder and COO Michael Rucker told us just because something is creative – doesn’t mean it will work. 

For brands looking to dip their toe into the world of Virtual Reality, where do you suggest they start?

The reality about Virtual Reality today is that 360° VR Video is the easiest format to create and the format that has the most scale. So for brands looking to dip their toe into the world of VR, I always suggest they start with 360° VR Video. When you go to events like CES, SXSW or even here at Cannes you may experience an amazing demo on an HTC Vive, but the reality about the Vive platform is that the audience is still extremely limited there. The immediate opportunity is right here (pull out mobile phone). We all have a VR device in our pocket. Mobile VR, which today supports the 360° VR Video is how a marketer can get scale and impact with their VR experience.

Facebook and YouTube support this format on their own platforms, and with a platform like OmniVirt, brands can power that 360° VR experience across the web and through their different marketing channels. In the early days of any market, the reason you are dipping your toe in the water is to get learnings. In order to get learnings you need to figure out what is working, both from a creative and a distribution standpoint. For this reason, I always recommend brands to start with 360° VR Video when looking to dip their toe into the world of VR.

Equally important: what mistakes do brands need to avoid once they’ve gotten involved in VR?

This is related to my thoughts on how brands should think about dipping their toe in the water. I see far too many marketers investing in a VR experience without any distribution strategy around it. No one would every work with their creative team and agency partners to develop an amazing piece of content or an ad without any media strategy around it. The corollary would be if every ad a marketer created had to be searched for in the Google Play store and then downloaded before the end user could experience or watch it. It sounds funny, but I have seen many brands taking this approach in VR.

But this is not new. In the early days of the web, brands invested in beautiful flash micro-sites. While these sites looked amazing when shared in the conference room meeting with the team, they were built in flash and therefore not optimized for SEO or indexable by Google. This micro-sites eventually became rich media. The same was true in the early days of YouTube. I spent 7 years at YouTube and in the early days we would sell YouTube Brand Channels. A great page with the URL, youtube.com/[insertbrandname]. The reality was that users didn’t go to brand channels, they watched videos. Hence the birth of TrueView and video advertising.

And I think it is important that brands don’t make that same mistake. When you spend the money you do on the strategy and creative to develop an amazing piece of VR content, it is equally if not more important for the success of the campaign and the learnings to take away from it to not think through distribution.

The year is 2020. If you can only pick one, what industry do you think will be using way more VR than anyone might expect?

I may be biased, but I feel like that would be similar to asking in 2007 who will adopt mobile first? The use case for different industry’s were different, but everyone uses mobile today. In VR, we see movement across the board, embracing the medium in their own special way. The easy answers are gaming, entertainment, auto, travel, real-estate. But at OmniVirt we have powered VR campaigns for kitty litter, insurance, banks, fast food, and even the military.

How do you ensure a balance between creativity & adaptive strategies in the marketplace? 

Just because something is creative, doesn’t mean it will work. As marketers, ultimately we should be measured on the impact of the work that we are doing. And in a world where consumers are bombarded with advertising messages and content every day, it is critically important that we figure out how to cut through and stand out.

Often this is rooted in creativity. An amazingly creative idea that resonates with the consumer and makes them choose to watch or better yet, choose to share is what we all aspire for. But all too often, doing something creative turns into doing something unique, different, something never done before. How many times can you do something that has never been done before?

Creativity and efficacy do and should go hand in hand. Testing new creatives, new formats, and new mediums can be done in a way that allows us to learn what works and what doesn’t, so that we can iterate and adapt our marketing strategies going forward. At Google we loved the mantra launch and iterate. Try new things and be ready to learn and adapt your approach.