Today’s business owners and marketers need to find effective ways to engage with their target audiences. Many of them are increasingly choosing immersive media to achieve this goal. Let’s take a closer look at what this entails. Cover photo by Katia Ross.
How does immersive media help businesses and brands?
Immersive media is a broad category made up of efforts that help people become part of content rather than just consuming it. Many technologies under the immersive media umbrella include digital elements, and some mix virtual worlds with real life.
For example, shoppers in a grocery store can read a product’s ingredient list on a label. However, immersive media can involve letting a person interact with a very detailed experience where they can virtually walk to the farm that purchased the products or watch the products being made in their respective factories. Then it becomes easier for people to form a stronger connection with a brand, which results in greater loyalty.
In a recent case, fashion brand CHANEL’s decision makers commissioned an immersive reality experience that lets people travel in time to learn on the creation of the iconic CHANEL No 5 perfume. The multisensory installation lasts 15 minutes and features the voice work of Oscar-winning actress Marion Cotillard. It includes live elements, 2D animations and extended reality (XR) aspects that virtually transport people to Paris in the 1920s. Kate Spade has also launched a immersive virtual world this fall, to launch their 2022 collection.
In another case, the Liquor Control Board of Ontario (LCBO), which distributes and sells alcoholic beverages across the Canadian province, used augmented reality (AR) to showcase its summer beverage offerings.
Specifically, this immersive media experience uses Snapchat’s portal lenses to bring people to virtual stores filled with the latest offers of the season. The organization uses this approach alongside more traditional promotional efforts to drive in-store traffic and encourage people to try new products. In today’s highly stimulating and saturated market, it is especially important to grab people’s attention in innovative ways and help them learn more about brands or products.
Use immersive media to inform and excite
To be successful with immersive media efforts, one must understand what will best grab the audience’s attention. One option is to use projection mapping in the experiment. This possibility offers many associated benefits, including the ability to use it almost anywhere. You can project words and images onto 2D or 3D objects. Alternatively, you can even display them on curtains or sections of a room.
Swedish furniture brand IKEA used video mapping to create an immersive multimedia experience in a London store. People who visited it saw projected images of furniture and tableware products. They also interacted with a virtual IKEA employee who moved around the space and gave details of the various offerings. This approach helped people imagine how they might use the goods in their homes. Brand Immersion focuses on creating unforgettable customer experiences. IKEA’s tech unveil is a great example of what’s possible.
Audi car brand executives also plan to roll out immersive multimedia experiences that change what it’s like to be a car passenger. German startup holoride is working with the automaker to create what is called “elastic content”. This makes real-time adjustments based on aspects such as the route of the car and the duration of the trip. If these efforts gain momentum, they could take in-car entertainment to a whole new level.
Immersive media can enhance training efforts
Individuals also explored how immersive media could help people prepare for dangerous situations without exposing them to real threats. This is especially useful for industries like mining or those that require people to work at heights. Immersive media can also make training more engaging and promote retention.
Researchers at the University of South Australia have developed a virtual reality (VR) experience to help children make safer choices during bushfires. Statistics showed that more than 80% of participating children felt the module increased their confidence when evaluating options to stay safe during such incidents. This is remarkable since 91% of children had no prior knowledge of fire safety.
Elsewhere, the US Air Force plans to train fighter pilots with augmented reality (AR) simulations. They will allow pilots to react to virtual battle scenes while seeing the real world around them. Proponents of this training say it could help pilots avoid accidents while better preparing to defend the country against airborne adversaries.
Since this type of training is still relatively new, some business decision makers may be hesitant to invest heavily in it before seeing the benefits. This is understandable, especially for small businesses or those who have not yet experimented with new technologies. However, when business leaders are ready to look for ways to make training more interactive, immersive media is worth considering.
Photo: Uriel Soberanes
Immersive media as an educational tool
Many children of the 1980s and beyond fondly remember “The Magic School Bus” book and TV series. The fictional franchise centered on students taking a mysterious vehicle to otherwise inaccessible places, such as inside the human body or to historical periods. Immersive media can do something similar today.
The National Geographic Society recently unveiled an installation centered on the Egyptian pharaoh King Tut to mark 100th anniversary of the discovery of his tomb. Content includes a 16-minute animation experience, huge projections and background music. It’s easy to see how such efforts would help people interact with thematic material to watch history come to life in new ways.
However, some people argue that non-immersive media is not always the best educational vehicle. Critics responded to an immersive exhibition of Vincent van Gogh saying the artist’s work was not intended surround people. The feeling of moving away from the original static format degraded the pieces.
Instead of viewing immersive media as something that will automatically enhance an original content format, people should think critically about whether that is the case. What are the pros and cons of making media immersive? How much would it cost to achieve the desired goals? What are the disadvantages of highly interactive installations? Ethical concerns can also arise when the original creator is no longer alive or unable to provide information about transforming their material into an immersive experience.
Is immersive media right for your business?
The various examples given here have probably fired your imagination and started thinking about how your business could use immersive media in the short or longer term. Such efforts can certainly pique people’s interest and encourage them to interact with your business or brand in a memorable way. Plus, as more businesses try immersive media, you’ll have even more ideas for how you might use it.
However, like any technology-based business decision, whether or not to use this content format is highly dependent on your organization’s current goals and resources. There’s no need to rush to use it, but it’s a great time to at least stay open to the possibility and maybe take the next step sooner rather than later if your business circumstances so require. allow.