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09 March 2016

Why 2016 is finally the right time for VR


There is a lot of talk around the resurgence of virtual reality (VR) as a viable medium for brands, but why now?

There are essentially three things behind the second-coming of VR…

Firstly, the unstoppable rise of the smartphone. In no time at all, smartphones have become the most important piece of technology in our lives. They are central to pretty much everything we do and they represent the perfect entry point for VR. Forecasts predict that the number of smartphone users will jump to 6.1 billion by 2020 (from 2.6 billion in 2014); that’s a massive audience capable of viewing and engaging with VR content.

Secondly, readily available fast Internet – both mobile and hardwired – means the delivery infrastructure is there and that more people have quick and easy access to online content. Furthermore, with companies increasingly competing on price – especially over mobile networks – the cost continues to come down. This is the gateway to the VR world.

Finally, our always-on culture, driven by the above factors, means there is an exponentially growing need for content. Lots of it. And this content – whether it’s bite-sized or long-form – needs to be engaging. With content becoming more visual – Facebook’s success speaks volumes to this – VR offers a way for content creators to take engagement to the next level.

However, the growth of VR has been far from an overnight success story. As a medium VR has been around for a long time. And there is a perception barrier – most people still think it is something you put a headset on for and enter into a gaming environment.

The reality is that VR has come a long way from here. We can now live stream VR-ready 360-video and interact with the content through augmented reality (AR) – this last addition means there is a growing e-commerce application for advertisers. Combining these elements means that VR has a substantial role to play in the content landscape over the coming 12 months and beyond.

The switch to VR isn’t as complex (or expensive) as you might think. Production companies that shoot live action can still continue to lead the process, and VR can supplement what has already been shot – becoming a powerful part of the content package. One that offers exciting and compelling opportunities to brands, agencies and production companies.

There are challenges, of course. The biggest of which is that people need to be educated into how VR and 360-video filming works – what can and can’t be done. It’s a very different environment with very specific characteristics.

But the good news is that there is a developing market of vendors that have the technology and know-how to create and deliver top quality VR content; so there is no need for production companies to make huge investments in new kit. Instead they just need to plug in to a VR company that will compliment the live action and animation skills they already have.

This ultimately will benefit both sides of the relationship as agencies and production companies can focus on what they do best; using VR to develop new ways of delivering narratives. It’s this new creative approach that will put VR firmly on the brand content map over the rest of this year.

By George Kapellos, head of marketing and partnerships at Mativision

Check out the short video below of Mativision’s CEO Anthony Karydis on why VR is more than headsets and gaming:


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