VR is now a technology platform looking for content. Large names have dominated the hardware space and created high end headsets that now put them in direct sales competition with each other.
Until now VR has been an organic space, those interested and early to the medium have been sharing knowledge and helping to build the category. However, to move forward there needs to be clear ROI for every dollar spent, and it seems it is VR content and its distribution, not VR hardware that will transform the industry and compel people to get involved.
As more developers, enterprise and industry technologists flock to the medium, we are starting to see a new way for people to view and experience the world, and this all comes down to content. VR unlocks a door to different worlds and there are numerous companies now creating educational experiences and interactive cinematic film that is in turn laying the foundations for an entire new industry. There will be people talking of before VR and after VR, as they do with TV, the Internet and mobile. Given the price of headsets is out of many consumer’s reach, it will be a little while before VR adoption is truly mainstream. Further, with the cost of R&D, production and marketing, the high end headset manufacturers return little profit margin despite the expensive price tag. It is therefore why those who see the potential to make money with VR content will reap the best rewards. The best margins come from digital content with its low cost of e-distribution and digital advertising and VR is opening a new revenue stream for the media industry.
The leading VR companies are realising this. HTV Vive, alongside Valve, created Vive Port with a monthly subscription model and it has been named the Netflix of VR. Google and Disney joined forces to create Jaunt – and have now established a UK branded content division to help large name clients to develop best in class interactive, cinematic VR advertising. There is also the Oculus store which is dominating mobile VR content, backed by the social giant Facebook. The only way is up from here. It’s just not clear how fast we’ll get there.
With most brands now seeing the need to be their own media houses, and programmatic and social media moving inside the business, VR offers a new way to educate, engage and inspire audiences. Eye tracking also presents an opportunity to learn more about user behaviour and where attention is focused and feed this information back in to experience design.
First there was traditional advertising. Across radio, TV, Print and OOH. The online world exploded and we then had PPC, display, social media and mobile. VR is the next medium to disrupt the world and the companies that create, distribute and deliver the best content experiences will ultimately be the engine that drives it forward and discover VRs first signs of profitability.