Immersive, augmented, and virtual realities are changing the social media landscape. Here’s a look at the year’s biggest social media marketing trends.

Five years ago, you wouldn’t have considered virtual reality to be a must-have in social media ads. But the times have changed. On Facebook and Snapchat, we’re seeing social media ads that include:

  • Warby Parker’s virtual try-on tool, which lets you try on glasses and preview how they’ll look on your face in real-time
  • The 360-degree Takis adthat lets you bask in this crispy snack as if it were right in front of you
  • Domino’s pizza filter campaign that lets users create a pizza-themed moment and then order in the app

These are all ads that use immersive reality (IR), a concept that encompasses augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR).

Over 1 billion people use apps or software that augment or simulate reality today, and two-thirds say they let augmented reality sway their buying decisions.

According to Gartner, 84% of customers feel like brand experiences are just as important as the actual product or service that they’re buying. Those same customers spend up to 40% more when brands engage with them via social media.

What better way to create a brand experience than by immersing your audience in your brand’s reality? These are the memorable experiences that will build brand loyalty and social media interaction.

Immersive reality blurs the line between digital and physical experiences

Whether through VR or AR, immersive reality takes control of your real-world and digital experiences.

The main difference between AR and VR is that VR completely takes over your senses and experience, while AR simply adds to the real-world experience.

A VR headset completely fills your vision field and transports you to another place, while a VR app might apply data overlays or filters to a tablet or smartphone screen without obstructing your vision.

In consumer terms, Pokémon Go is an AR app, while BeatSaber is a VR game. The first projects Pokémon battles over your live camera feed, while the second transports you to a 360-degree immersive world.

VR has been on the scene since 1957, but it didn’t become available to the masses until 1991 when the first VR arcade game was published. Oculus Rift renewed interest in VR around 2010 when they released their headset prototype, and the hype has been mounting ever since.

AR has been around in different forms since 1968, but it truly exploded around 2000 when the AR dev community launched ARToolKit, an open-source library that allows millions of curious developers to experiment and share their AR applications.

Today, IR is dominating the social media market. Not only is this tech finally affordable and accessible, consumer interest is higher than it’s ever been before.

VR brings live events to a bigger audience 

Facebook reports that users watch three times as much live video content compared to other types of video media. It’s clear that live media is much more interesting in the moment it’s still occurring.

Users feel like they’re a part of something when they attend a VR event, even if it’s from the comfort of their homes. And what’s great about VR is that every seat is front row!

Instead of filming live events for later release, consider filming them in real-time for Facebook Live or another live virtual venue.

Last year, PlayStation brought together thousands of PS VR (the company’s VR console) users to experience Hikaru Utada in concert. Other companies have thrown live bashes to celebrate comedy, sports, product releases, and much more.

AR brings the showroom to social media

We’ve reached a place in e-commerce where buyers can finally have the convenience of shopping online without sacrificing the try-on process!

Eyeglasses companies like Warby Parker, Zenni Optical, and Michael Kors let you see how you’d look in their frames with the simple tap of a button. These brands ran their virtual try-ons as Facebook ads, where you can have a fashion show and complete the purchase without leaving your news feed.

Makeup companies like NYX Cosmetics, Urban Decay, and Mac Cosmetics have gone the same route, letting users try on different shades and varieties of makeup before committing to an online purchase.

Even jewelry companies (like Diamond Hedge) and shoe brands (like Nike) have gotten on board.

Buyers and brands alike benefit from the novelty and convenience of AR try-on ads. You reach more users, get them to interact with you in a memorable way, and potentially close a sale in one interaction. And the users benefit from knowing what they want before they buy it.

More brands moving from ‘flat’ content to immersive content 

It pays to make the leap from flat content to immersive content. If you look at top brands in e-commerce and other industries, you’ll find that immersive social advertising is everywhere you go.

Users want the stress-free experience of trying on a pair of glasses from the comfort of their homes. They want to connect with communities via live events that take place on their phone screens. And you can provide those experiences, as top brands all over the world do.

For instance:

  • IKEA lets you visualize how decor will look in your home pre-purchase
  • MTV streams live events with AR that includes celebrity selfies and custom graphics
  • Cadbury ran a virtual advent calendar using AR selfies with the #Cadvent tag on Instagram

As AR and VR in social media become the norm, your audience will start to expect it. That means you’ll fall behind by not getting on board now.

Harness data to maximize the value of immersive media 

Like any social media marketing, immersive reality should be targeted to make sure you’re reaching the right people and spending your ad dollars the right way. IR and AR ads are more expensive to produce than traditional ads, so they should be data-driven.

If you’re going to stay on top of the immersive media game, it’s important to know that you’re creating the media your audience wants to see. You can target your social media strategy by harnessing data insights from user groups similar to your audience.

BDEX can help you collect the right data and turn insights into a narrative that truly engages your customer. Our Data Exchange Platform gives you access to over a trillion data points across 5500 categories. Call us today to learn how we can support your AR marketing campaign with data that talks!

BDEX is the first-ever Data Exchange Platform (DXP). The BDEX DXP and DAAS platforms enable companies to acquire impartial, quality-scored third party data reaching the right people at the right time like never before.

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