The light bulb. The telephone. Experiential marketing. Yep, all inventions of the late 1800’s.
Our industry has come a long way since the first activation: a literal train wreck hosted by the Missouri-Kansas-Texas Railroad in 1896. In spite of the fact that the train cars exploded on contact and shrapnel injured spectators, the event was deemed a success. A delighted crowd took photos with the wreckage. Train ticket sales increased.
Today, the effectiveness of experiences in engaging audiences remains unchanged. But that’s about the only thing.
As technology, connectivity and creativity continue to evolve, we face the challenge of making innovation work for us rather than against us. How do we enhance experiences without fragmenting a consumer’s already divided attention?
Experience experts are using these four trends to their (and their customers’) benefit.
VR and AR
Brands can deliver a new dimension of experience to customers through the use of virtual and augmented reality. What’s the difference between them? Virtual reality simulates a new reality for the user, one that resembles real-life environment unique from the one their in. Augmented reality layers digital imagery and information on top of a user’s existing reality.
The auto and tourism industries have eagerly embraced virtual reality. Imagine being able to drive a car without leaving the showroom floor or visiting an island from your couch. Augmented reality, popularized by Pokemon Go!, is meanwhile finding its way into retail environments, allowing customers a new way to try before they buy. No, that dress does not make you look fat.
See, smell, taste, TOUCH. Born out of gaming, haptic technology emits vibrations to heighten the sensory effect of an experience. You may already own a device that gives feedback in the form of a snap, shake or rumble, but experts expect haptics to be increasingly integrated into ads – particularly those of the mobile variety. The results for early adopters have been positive. According to a recent study, adding haptics boosted consumers’ excitement levels by 8 percent.
Can’t make it? No problem. More and more, brands are providing access to experiences through live video. Although the broadcasts don’t always net massive numbers at airtime, they ignite social conversations and drive future views.
Pre-promotion is the key to success. Brands must give their audience a compelling reason to watch. They also need to tell them when to tune in. Nike’s recent attempt to break the two-hour marathon brilliantly illustrates the power of live video to amplify an event.
These innovations are just some of the ways marketers are pioneering more immersive brand experiences. But we must be mindful not to get too distracted by the new shiny thing. If technology compromises the integrity of your experience, you risk a different kind of train wreck.