Advertising has an Immersive Story to tell you, and it’s the Future of Brand Marketing

By Anne McKinnon 

*VAR- virtual and augmented reality 

Social media platforms are optimized for every pixel and millisecond of content. As we approach the years’ end and look up the most successful advertisements and marketing campaigns of the year, not one of them is in VAR. How long will it be before we have Amazon experiences or Nike “Dream Crazier” virtual, interactive athletics and shoppable wear? 

Advertising metrics, just as the platforms that use them, have been carefully quantified and qualified for user experience, impressive statistics and micro-analysis. Companies that use AR and VR commercial content like Ikea, Disney and Warner Bros are using this medium for advertising performance


Studies on the psychology of VAR have proven beyond doubt that it’s the most effective and impressionable medium. It increases the ability of a viewer to recount key facts, viewers engage with it for longer periods of time, and VAR content can touch viewers’ lives and hearts instantly and much more powerfully than 2D video. At the Digital Entertainment World Expo this year, Tony Parisi,  Head of AR/VR Ad Innovation at Unity, listed the following formats from most to least effective across mediums:

  1. Live event content activation (as most effective)
  2. VR/MR experiences
  3. AR apps
  4. AR ad
  5. Mobile video

While there are many doomsday-like reads out there for VAR, advertising and its effect on us the consumers, it’s time to re-think advertising with this new medium. How can we create advertising as experiences that enhance our life rather than interrupt it? How can we make content development a race to the top?


With a saturated video market, it’s been fascinating to watch Netflix and its contenders regurgitate plots, actors and old content while at the same time spewing out original shows and series. Today’s audience has the option to multitask. They can watch TV, scroll on a phone or tablet, or even stream what a remote friend is watching at the same time as paying half attention to what’s on the main screen. With VAR, this is not the same (yet). It’s one experience, one person for the most part, and content is transfixing. It’s a focal point instead of a background noise and time-ticker. It’s significant, interesting, and new. 

One of the primary challenges of VAR advertising is showing purchasers that it works. In the last two years, and especially in 2019, this has changed as VAR analysis has widely entered the global market after a round of educating B2B consumers. And it’s not just the traditional quantifiers of 2D advertising that these agencies offer. Eye-tracking, camera access, interactive content, facial expression capture and emotive response are new measurements that can be garnered from VAR. Results and insights are great rewards to be had from VAR, but what about privacy?

In addition to leading the way in a new generation of advertising that improves the lives of digital consumers, VAR content creators, advertisers, distributors and software builders must also take the lead to establish privacy standards. How long should this information be stored? How much detail is captured and who can access this? Can data be bought and sold if reduced to simple words and numbers as is the norm?

What is possible in 2019 is only a glimpse into the future. As the spatial web with 5G brings the metaverse and digital content into the real world with life-like 3D, color, texture and size, those who offer experiences to consumers now will find that this virtual impression makes an augmented impact. Today, VR is timeless. 

As for 2021, will Nike suddenly be competing with Netflix? Will physical space become digital playgrounds as the next Hollywood blockbuster builds out mini-portals into shop windows? In 2020, let’s redefine and rethink advertising for virtual and augmented reality. Boxing week sales might soon be a boxing week showcase at home and in stores. 


Attention is a resource, and we only have so much of it. Thank you for reading. 

By Anne McKinnon  


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