Marketing in a New Reality

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Greg Olsen Principal Growl Agency
Greg Olsen, Principal Growl Agency

Marketers are challenged more than ever to make their brand story relevant to the modern digitally connected consumer.  The digital marketing world is changing and one area taking off is marketing in alternate realities.  Like many, I am fascinated by technologies that connect people and brands together.  Virtual, augmented and mixed reality will bring the user new experiences.  Brands will use these technologies to connect to the buyer and help differentiate their products and services in crowded markets.

Why should brands consider this new reality?

The key element that sets these experiences above others is the element of control.  Users are able to create the experience they want or move through an alternate reality, becoming an active participant instead of a passive viewer. This ability to control the experience elevates a campaign into a compelling experience that increases a brand’s connection with the user.

Let’s review the three technologies: Virtual Reality(VR), Augmented Reality(AR) and Mixed Reality(MR).

Virtual Reality(VR) 

VR is 360-degree exploration with visuals, sound and movement. This computer generated environment lets users experience a different reality.  The equipment is as simple as a headset that holds your smart phone to a more complex system with sound and hand held objects to interact with the VR environment.  Virtual reality replaces your entire world.

The Growl Agency view and what gets us excited:

Virtual reality has gone from zero to early adoption very quickly.  The revenue forecast states it has gained more momentum than mobile and social combined.  Augmented and Virtual Reality revenue is forecast to hit $120 Billion and disrupting mobile by 2020.

What are virtual reality viewers?  

There are two types of virtual reality viewers.  The first type uses a smartphone. You plug your Apple or Android phone into the VR viewer and use your own headphones.  Google Cardboard and Samsung Gear VR would be examples of these viewers.  Your smartphone becomes the VR screen.

The second type is the stand-alone unit. This option is more complicated and requires additional VR equipment.  A stand-alone unit has a built in screen, gyroscope and accelerator.  A couple examples of these more advanced viewers are Oculus Rift and HTC Vive.

How should you get started?

Most of us are just beginning to learn about virtual reality. Consider purchasing a VR viewer to fit your smartphone.  If you have an Apple or Android phone, purchase a simple VR viewer such as Google Cardboard. Once you have the viewer, check out a few VR apps to help bring the understanding of VR to life.

VR apps:

Augmented Reality(AR):

AR has been intriguing to marketers’ in recent years, as it has the potential to change the consumer experiences, from how people find new products to how they decide which ones to buy.

The Growl Agency view and what gets us excited:

AR and VR are close cousins.  Augmented reality is where the excitement builds for brands. Why? Because many people are carrying around those little powerful computers in their pockets called a smartphone.  This experience augments your reality with the real world.

AR uses the smartphone’s technology such as the camera and accelerator to overlays the brand experience onto the screen.  This can be as simple as a visual overlay on your smartphone. Many existing smartphone apps take advantage of AR.

How should you get started with AR?

Check out a few AR apps online and download to your smartphone.  In addition, research companies within your industry who may be using AR.  The possibilities are endless.

Here are a few interesting AR apps you can experience:

  • Exploring the world through games:  Pokemon Go
  • Find that perfect piece of furniture.  Wayfair Way
  • Pepsi creates that immersive and memorable experience at a bus shelter.

Mixed Reality (MR):

Mixed reality is the convergence of VR and AR. The blend of reality and illusion is where the future is going.  You can have fictional characters in your office or turn your environment into the coolest work space imaginable.

The Growl View and what gets us excited:

If you thought AR was cool, you are going to get super excited about mixed reality.  This is where the weird and the technology come together.  This experience is through a headset. The user can see through and interact with the environment. This experience is much like looking at a hologram in front of you.  The Microsoft HoloLens is such a product.  Imagine being able to put your email on a wall next to you. Having your music on displayed on your desk and watching the news on another wall all within this mixed reality environment.  This is better than Google Glass and the awkward experiences that the few people who had them would walk around in a cyborg manner.

Affordable and easy for MR is a few years away.  A couple of the technology players, Microsoft Halo Lens and Ultra Secret Magic LEAP, are working on making this more accessible.

How should you get started with mixed reality?

Seek out opportunities to try out technology demos.  I have been to many trade shows where exhibitors are starting to use Microsoft Halo Lens to tell their story and connect the user into their world.

Check out these examples of a mixed reality experience:

Check out the Microsoft HoloLens Video. HoloLens Demo

MagicLeap is everything mixed reality is aspiring to be. Check out this cool video.   

What will the future bring?

Brands are continually working to tell their story.  They have been working to differentiate their messages and grab the user’s attention through many mediums.  Mobile took this to a new level and people could easily engage or ignore a brand.  Brands are using these technologies to create experiences that deliver compelling and memorable messages.  These new technologies immerse the user in the brand and allowing us to have their undivided attention.

Many things have to happen for this to hit the mainstream and allow brands to create these experiences.  There is a lot of money being invested and brands are scrambling to get involved.  In the meantime, take time to understand how these technologies will change the marketing landscape.

As with any marketing technology, companies have to resist the urge to hastily create these virtual experiences and instead focus on better understanding how consumers will interact with the technology.

I predict in less than five years, normal looking glasses will have a heads up display. These glasses will allow us to interact with the world around us while connecting at a deeper level with brands we love.

The key is to understand the technologies and the players.  In my opinion, augmented reality, will allow brands easier entry then virtual reality and mixed reality.  As with any digital experience, it needs to be relevant and connect the user to your brand.

About Growl Agency:
Growl is a marketing, technology and design agency. We’re an idea factory. A Denver based, dog loving, mountain loving marketing agency.  We are experts at Business-to-People marketing.  Helping companies connect to their customers in more meaningful ways. For more information, visit

About Greg Olson:
Greg is the founder and principal of Growl Agency. A leader in helping companies implement technology, marketing and sales enablement strategies.  He has worked with companies from young start-ups to mature Fortune 100s to launch and re-launch their businesses, products and services. Loves talking about marketing technology and has over 100 national and global speaking engagements.  On a personal level, his mom thinks he is pretty cool. In addition, he rescues Rottweilers and teaches tele-skiing and leads backcountry ski trips.

To read the complete November 2016 issue of The Review magazine, click here.

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