The Ultimate Guide To VR In Experiential Marketing

05 Jan


The Story So Far

2016 was a big year for VR, as we make the transition into 2017, multiple industry experts agree that the number of experiential campaigns involving VR will increase. This is due both to the popularity of the medium and the increased commercial availability of the technology.


VR As Part of The Marketing Experience

The implication of this for experiential marketing is that there will be an increased focus on the quality of the experience. The higher saturation of brands using VR as a part of their experiential marketing means subpar content will be more easily recognised and avoided in future. This is human nature.

The aim of this guide is to inform readers on how to effectively integrate VR into their experiential marketing practices. By breaking the process down into its component parts, we have created a checklist to test the efficacy of potential campaigns.


Stay True to The Brand

The first point, which is relevant in all marketing, not just VR, is staying on the brand’s message. It’s too easy to lose direction in the bid to incorporate exciting new technologies like VR. The key is not to overreach, make the content represent your brand’s USPs.


For example; a craft brewery would benefit from an audio-visual trip through the brewing process, more than a game where users shoot beer bottles off a wall.


Why? The first gives users a simulated, immersive first-hand experience of what makes the brand different; the second, whilst it may be briefly amusing, is universally applicable and gives consumers no insight into your brand.


Check out these 5 examples via Momentum for some inspiration:



Understand the context

The second determining factor is the context in which the experience takes place. This doesn’t mean venue selection, which plays an important role in ANY experiential marketing campaign. The context in this case is a clear definition of how VR will fit into the overall campaign.


What Role Will VR Play in The Campaign

This is should be addressed at the drawing board stage, an understanding of exactly how your brand wants to make use of VR is fundamental to creating an effective experience.

Is there going to be a high consumer turnover for the experience with a low dwell time? If this is the case then the experience will have to be short and snappy to deliver its message in short time.

Is VR going to be the centrepiece of your campaign like in TopShop’s catwalk experience, or is does it simply help tie the rest of the experience together like this campaign from the WWF;



Logistically, will you need one staff member for each headset or is your experience going to be simple enough that consumers can “plug-and-play” as they please. The hardware involved will effect this too, it’s not a bad idea to leave a Google Cardboard headset unsupervised, a £700 HTC Vive is a different matter.


Creating The VR Experience

Now we come to the meat of the issue. The user experience is the crucial ingredient in any successful experiential marketing VR campaign. This can be broken down into two key areas, the content of the experience and the technical factors which ensure it runs smoothly.


Making the content engaging

VR content definitely has an inherent advantage with engagement, the technology is a novelty to the majority of people. However we’ve prepared a few guidelines to ensure your users stay suspended in awe.


Be Natural

Progression through the experience should feel natural. Even the most abstract content should be accessible by any user who puts on the headset.

If the user has control, make their route clear, without being too blatant. If it’s an audio-visual experience, the narrative should be easy to follow, without making big jumps between scenes.


Build a Narrative

Speaking of narrative, it is essential your experience has one! No matter what form the content takes, it needs to follow a clear storyline, ending with either your CTA or another message which is central to your campaign.

Introduction, content, debrief is a classic because it works, also remember your users have never seen the experience before and won’t necessarily keep up if you drop them straight into it.

The introduction allows you to prepare them for this, whilst the debrief is a good way to tie everything together and reaffirm your key points/CTA.


Keep it Fun

Above all, the experience needs to be enjoyable, you won’t improve the consumer’s opinion of the brand if you make them sit through a 30 minute paint-drying simulator. Obviously this is an exaggeration but the point remains true.

Have your team play-test the experience over and over, if you stop enjoying it, find out why and create the solution.


Inspire Awe

Many people try VR because they want to be wowed by the capabilities of the technology. For the marketer, therefore, this a key area to nail, whether the experience is fictional or based in the real world.

Transport users to places they have never been, high on mountains or down in the depths of the darkest ocean.

The ‘wow factor’ is a real thing and any campaign would improve with it. Check out this Game Of Thrones VR experience for reference;



Make it Dynamic

Carrying on in a similar vein, the experience needs dynamism to keep the users locked-in for the full ride. This sounds too similar to the part about awe? I’ll give you an example. An experience set atop a snowy Mont Blanc has awe inspiring vistas. However, one where the protagonist is climbing, reaches the top and then skis back down is breath taking.

Dynamism helps to ensure your ‘wow factor’ is maximised and holds true throughout the experience. This GoPro: Bombsquad video encapsulates dynamism perfectly.



Create Immersion

A great VR experience will transport users to another dimension, they will feel far removed from the stand or room where they donned the headgear, totally immersed in the experience. Two of the key ingredients of this are high quality audio and images.

Obviously this may be limited by your hardware, certain headsets are fully immersive like the Oculus Rift whilst some are only visual as with Google Cardboard.

The point is however, that the quality, and therefore the realism, of the environment is dependent on the quality of the sights and sounds that make it up. Don’t cut corners in these areas, it will come back to bite you.


Drive Interactivity

Again the extent of interactivity will be curtailed by the hardware available. The HTC Vive, for example, comes with handheld controllers, however it is very much in the minority.

You don’t have to have users blasting tie fighters out of the sky from the cockpit of an X-Wing like Battlefront’s Rogue One: X-Wing game, but something simple like being able to look around and choose which parts of the content to take in will go a long way to keeping them engaged.



Make Use of The Opportunity

Lastly, go big! If you’re putting the effort into creating a VR experience, make sure it makes use of the technologies unique abilities. Being able to put a user literally into the protagonist’s shoes has brought a new meaning to the phrase first person storytelling. Whilst the first person perspective also gives users a unique sense of the danger and excitement of situations they would never otherwise find themselves in.

Obviously this must be taken with a pinch of salt, and you should ride off on a giant tangent to create the VR experience of your dreams which bears no resemblance to the brand who paid for it! But, try to make something special and unique, your consumers will thank you for it.


Technical Factors

Next we will cover a few basic technical factors which help to add into a successful experience. Conversely, if done wrong, several of these factors have the potential to cause nausea and dizziness in users, so it’s probably best to pay attention.


Peripheral vision

Make use of the eyes’ physiological design to clearly see items in the centre of their field of view. By combing high resolution graphics in the centre with low resolution on the peripheries, you can greatly reduce the output demand of your experience, meaning it will run smoother.

Combine this with eye-tracking software to keep the high resolution renders in the centre of the users view, giving the impression of focus.


Proprioception (scale)

According to “This term defines the position of an observer in terms of the surrounding 3D environment.” It is important that objects within the experience are scaled relative to the user.

This is crucial for maintaining immersion and realism, the dinosaur in the distance is much less scary when it’s still the size of a small dog when it gets to you. Similarly, trees that bend around your field of view are fooling nobody.


Keep a High Framerate

This is another point for immersion, by maintaining a high framerate, the experience is essentially appearing as it was designed to, one continuous flow.

Drops in performance, due often to overly demanding graphics and audio, particularly graphic effects like fire or rain, are instant deal breakers when it comes to immersion. It’s very difficult to remain engaged when the immersive video you were just a part of becomes a slideshow.


Camera Stability

The camera is often naturally bumpy in VR experiences, using a shaky camera to try to simulate walking can leave users feeling nauseous. Similarly, fading in and out of scenes can soften what would otherwise be sudden, jerky transitions.

According to, “The best 3 camera movement techniques for virtual reality content production are the dolly, truck and crane shots.”


Pick the right partner

Two points remain before we finish. Both apply throughout marketing, the first of which is picking the partner to create your experience. Obviously if you have talented designers in-house then you may want to have them do it.

In fact there is a wide variety of free VR software tools available, check out a few of them here at Online guides like the one here at are numerous and very easy to find.

Otherwise, simple business principles apply when selecting your designer. Find a partner who understands what you are trying to achieve from your experience and most importantly, who isn’t afraid to tell you when you’re overstepping, trust the person who knows infinitely more on the subject than you do.


Collect data

Finally, collect data! What was good, what was bad, how long did people stay for, how many people watched the whole thing, what was confusing, was it immersive, were there times when the immersion dropped and when were the, did the experience flow, did you enjoy it, would you try a VR experience again.

These are all valuable questions, the answers to which can help mold your future campaigns to better serve your target audience. Always collect data because the consumers are the ones who decide how successful your campaign will, you should be listening to them.


Follow these tips and you will be on your way to creating a truly memorable and engaging VR experience which beautifully and effectively compliments your experiential marketing campaign.


If you’re looking to run an experiential campaign and need staff, or you just want to talk, contact us today, we’d love to help!