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/ 20.06.2018

The Barriers to Brands Adopting XR And How To Overcome Them

– Sol Rogers

Note: a version of this piece was originally featured on Little Black Book Influencers.

It’s important to us to understand as fully as possible how marketers view VR and AR and what, if any, the roadblocks to adoption are. So we conducted a survey amongst those working within agencies and brands to get the latest insights.

The majority of those surveyed (71%) agreed that consumers want immersive experiences from brands. Over half of respondents (62%) also agreed that XR creates powerful connections with consumers.

In terms of business impact, 73% said that the use of immersive experiences can lead to an increase in sales for brands and over half (60%) thought it could create new revenue streams for brands.

When it came to XR vs. traditional mediums, we were pleased to find that over 72% of those surveyed thought that XR was more engaging than TV advertising, while over 55% thought XR would have a greater impact on consumers than traditional mediums such as print and TV in the next ten years.

Interestingly, 53% believed that mixed reality would have the most impact on marketing in the next ten years, compared to AR (33%) and VR (13%). I couldn’t agree more. When I got my hands on a HoloLens, I knew MR was going to be a genuinely transformational technology. Put simply, it’s the future. MR will add new interactions, apps, games, and experiences we have yet to imagine to our world and marketers are starting to realise its potential.

So, a very positive view on XR and what it can achieve. Yet, only 26% of those surveyed employ the use of VR or AR.


The main barrier to entry is concern about the limitations of reach (62%) followed by a lack of understanding of the technology (31%).

It’s no secret that the current user base for VR is a stumbling block, but are we about to see the back of this now Oculus Go is on the market? Mashable says that ‘Oculus Go is the VR headset we’ve all been waiting for’, and we’re inclined to agree. It could be a game changer. VR’s future relies on cheap and accessible headsets (ones that your mum, even your gran, could use). Once we have more people in VR, the reach and ROI concerns will be gone and the chicken and egg content problem will be too.

The reach issue can also be addressed with a smart content and marketing strategy. If you’re releasing on a platform, make sure the media gets early access for reviews; if you’ve created a VR experience for a PC powered HMD, make sure there are 2D assets for social. Amplification around the high-quality content is vital to extend reach and awareness and ensure ROI.  

With AR, reach is less of an issue. Augmented reality – including mobile AR and smart glasses – could reach an installed base of more than 3 billion, according to Digi-Capital. With an estimated 900 million mobile AR units – including Apple ARKit, Google ARCore, Facebook Camera Effects and Snap Lens Studio being in the market by the end of this year – AR is about to get massive.

Tackling the lack of understanding of the technology is slightly trickier. This isn’t something that can be changed quickly, new tech always takes time to bed in. Take Facebook for example, yes it’s now the world’s largest social network with 2.19 billion monthly active users (more than Twitter and Instagram combined) but that didn’t happen overnight. Facebook launched in 2004, by 2007 it had 30 million users and by 2012 it had hit the 1 billion mark. Social media is now integral to a marketing strategy, if not the marketing strategy. Given the consumer appetite, brand managers could not afford to ignore it, they had to understand how to use social media to reach consumers and engage with them. With the huge potential user-base for AR and the power of VR to form emotional connections, marketers cannot ignore these emerging mediums either.

The enlightened brands and agencies have been making good progress, but there’s still a long way to go before XR becomes a marketing staple.

Marketers don’t need to understand all the ins and outs of the technology, instead they need to have a firm grasp on how and when to use the tech. Education from our side focuses on how to integrate AR and VR with a brand. Careful thought needs to be given to how the target audience will actually interact with it. For example, there’s no point in just projecting a digital image onto the real world environment; you must enhance it. And there’s no point in adopting VR just for the sake of it.

We always ask why should this be VR, why couldn’t it just be a TVC or app? And we’re not afraid to say no if XR isn’t the right solution. ‘No’ allows us to question the creative intent, discuss, reshape, guide, and educate the client, and in turn gain respect from one another.

As the industry progresses at lightning speed, we are learning something new every day and unlearning something else. Brands and marketers dipping their toe in the immersive waters cannot expect to know everything; instead, they need to rely on their production partner or internal resource to guide them. Knowledge sharing is imperative to the growth of the industry.

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