News / 27.06.2018
Five Must-Ask Questions For Hiring Any AR/VR Studio
– Rick Davis
Note: a version of this piece was originally featured on VentureBeat.
Creating world-class immersive experiences for brands, agencies, and media is not something every studio is equipped to do. I’ve worked in gaming and tech for 12 years, most recently creating the Autodesk LIVE brand, and I’m now at REWIND in the role of General Manager to expand the company’s vision as an AR, VR, and MR innovator.
As a brand marketer you’re likely pitched augmented, virtual and mixed reality projects daily. Don’t tune them out. Instead cut to the chase using these five questions to spot the best studios.
The good ones can answer these questions simply and explain the AR/VR/MR differences in five minutes or less.
How many developers do you have in house?
To make something great, you need great builders – probably more than five. Right now in the AR/VR space, great builders are coming from the gaming industry, rarely the movie industry. Devs should be in house, not outsourced. These days, too many “producers” pitch creative that can’t be realised, because they don’t have a regular team of developers that they work with. The quality suffers as they figure out their working relationship on your dime.
Try to find an agency or studio that meets your creative needs AND has the build team to execute. This avoids the blame game that is all too common when multiple parties work on a project. In short, get a single company you can hold accountable for great results.
What % of your revenue comes from AR/VR?
Make them put their money where their mouth is. If AR/VR is a 5% revenue stream tacked on to their larger services, assume they are not taking it seriously. You see this from the bigger agencies, who use AR/VR as an enticing add-on to the higher margin services that they have churned out for years, but they’re not embracing AR/VR as the powerful connection tool that it has the potential to be. In this scenario your AR/VR experience will be regarded as an afterthought, which can have a hugely detrimental effect on your products and brand. Think about the last time you skipped an ad because it was sub-par, it’s worse in AR/VR because you’re inside the ad, nothing will get an app deleted faster than a bad experience.
To be great in this new and ever-evolving space, you have to be truly dedicated to figuring out the hard problems. Often, this means breaking even to ensure a client gets true value. Big companies have a hard time wrapping their heads around this. Despite recent predictions from Digi-Capital that the AR market could hit $85/$90 billion and the VR market $10-15 billion by 2022, it’s still early days for marketing spends, so you need a partner that will stretch your dollar.
Can you tell me about the success of your last three high profile projects?
You’re fishing for a track record of paying clients ($200k+ per project). You don’t want to be the first! Paying studios to learn is a fool’s errand and there is a massive trail of bad VR that ranges from gimmicky product placement to what amounts to awful “fly-on-the-wall” nauseating 360 degree video. Gizmodo writer Michael Nunez, put it rather succinctly in his 2016 article titled Don’t Waste Your Time on VR Marketing Ploys where he concludes, “if it’s not making the experience even better than it already was, it shouldn’t exist in the first place.” While the tech has massively improved since then, we are still seeing plenty of bad marketing executions. This hurts adoption of the platform – please help to stop it.
Asking about the last high profile project helps you determine if those projects added any value to the company, and if that client became a repeat customer. Many brands have dabbled in the immersive space, but if you can find a studio that has repeat business from top clients like a Google, a Nike or a Coca-Cola, they’re likely doing something right.
How are you addressing my reach concerns?
You’re a marketer after all and reach is one of the biggest challenges with this medium. If they say “we can build a great experience, but it’s on you to get the eyeballs” walk away. Every good AR/VR studio should be helping you address the reach issue with smart strategy. Of course, even with the Oculus Go only costing $199, stunts like The New York Times pulled by mailing Google Cardboard to its audience isn’t scalable.
Despite this, there are still many things that an agency should be helping you with to address reach. If the VR experience is showing up at a trade show, make sure press get VIP access. If you’re doing an activation at a consumer event, make sure your influencer networks get VIP access. If you’re releasing content for the home market, make sure your agency delivers promotional assets that wow people on social, like Valve did for the launch of HTC Vive in 2016 with this video asset that perfectly captured that hard to nail description of what it’s actually like to experience VR. What I’ve outlined here should be easy stuff for a great partner, but you need to be able to trust your studio’s strategy. If they don’t know, you don’t go.
Why would you use AR/VR to market my brand?
The novelty of VR is over and it will soon fade for AR too. Gone are the days of headlines reading “X brand uses AR/VR, they’re innovative!”. If your studio doesn’t know why their AR/VR pitch achieves your goals better than a TV, outdoor, or social buy, they aren’t for you. Seeing your product on a coffee table through AR, or looking 360 degrees in a branded scene in VR doesn’t automatically build brand affinity. One example of missing the mark with a brand in VR is the ill-fated ‘Jumanji VR’ experience that charged a premium for what was largely regarded as a rush job. An agency has to explain why AR/VR is the only medium that can achieve the customer connection you want. If they can’t, they aren’t serious about the space and won’t be around in AR/VR for the long haul.
Your brand deserves a partner that has real vision for how AR/VR experiences can elevate your business. Avoid getting suckered into the hype of “emotional connection”, “empathy”, and “immersion”. These words are obvious abilities of the platform, but they’re used as fluff by people that don’t know what they want to build for you. Make your AR/VR studio explain the actual experience they have in mind and focus on the wow moments that will blow your customers’ minds. Good Luck!
Throughout time, humans have used visual-based methods to help them remember information – from early cave drawings to modern day video. VR is not only the next logical step but a step in the right direction: research suggests we retain more information and can better apply what we have learned after participating in virtual reality exercises.
Virtual reality can change what a person sees, how they think, what they feel and even how they behave. This is because users believe they are present in the virtual environment they find themselves in.
HP’s new virtual reality headset, ‘Reverb – Professional Edition’, launched yesterday, joining HP’s comprehensive commercial VR portfolio. The headset has a staggering 2160 x 2160 panel per eye and 114-degree field of view.
SWSW 2019 was a whirlwind of enlightening talks, networking, tech innovations, and Texas BBQ! While we are still on a SXSW high, we wanted to share the five things that stood out for us at this year’s event…
Eye-tracking technology has been around for years in medicine and aerospace but is quickly gaining a new lease of life thanks to VR. The heavy-hitters of the VR world are incorporating eye-tracking capabilities into their future headsets and are projected to grow the eye-tracking market. Market analysts forecast the global eye-tracking devices market to grow at a […]
Virtual reality has been around for a long time. It’s been used commercially by large aerospace and automotive organizations in CAVEs and powerwalls for over 30 years. Now, as VR is becoming more accessible and reliable, it is being rapidly adopted across a whole range of industries, from architecture to tourism. In the current climate […]
Just weeks after British retailers suffered major losses during the festive period, new research shows that 39 percent of Britons would “not care” if all high street stores closed down. The study, carried out by Awin, also revealed that 68 percent of recipients did most of their shopping online. Many cited ease and cheaper prices […]
Sol Rogers Founder/CEO, REWIND – Self-driving cars are an inevitability and will unlock the potential for cars to transform beyond a simple means of transport. In the not too distant future, drivers will find themselves with a great deal of free time in-car. Rather than having to focus on driving, time can be spent on working, […]