VR ROI: A Roadmap for Initiating a New Service

“Virtual Reality” (VR) is a big buzz phrase these days. It used to be the stuff of science fiction. Now it has become a true reality with hardware to run it being something as simple as your smart phone. What does this mean for the future of advertising and marketing? And how can an In-House Creative Services department make it work for them?

According to Aaron Luber, Head of Partnerships, VR at Google (https://www.thinkwithgoogle.com/articles/virtual-reality-advertising.html) there are 4 questions for brands interested in VR to consider:

  1. Will VR give viewers an experience that they otherwise couldn’t have?
  2. Could you give shoppers a better feel for your product?
  3. Will your recording environment be rich with things to see?
  4. Will viewers want to continue watching beyond the initial “That’s cool” moment?

Of course, virtual reality is not right for every client or situation, but when used for the correct application, it can really have a powerful impact.

We spoke with one in-house agency that has added Virtual Reality to their arsenal of services. Always looking to expand their client offerings and demonstrate their cutting edge capabilities, this team looked to VR as a new solution. The first step in adding this service was to create a prototype that they were then able to demo at a large corporate event. The program was simple enough that one of their current Interactive Developers could create it without extensive knowledge or training, but powerful enough to show the group’s capabilities. Once created, they shared it at the event and presented it to clients as a new solution.

The demonstrations were successful and the team was able to secure their first client – a client who had motivation to be the first to bring VR to his franchise. Success! But, now what? Anticipating interest in their prototype, the team had proactively partnered with a firm that specializes in animation and virtual reality. Working with this partner as a client, they felt that they could further learn some of the methodologies used in effective execution and delivery. With that knowledge, they defined roles that they could add on a freelance basis to their in-house team. They worked with a specialized staffing firm to hire a Storyboard Illustrator, Animator, Animation Developer, and Unity Developer – all with Virtual Reality experience.

In addition to the skillsets and associated talent required for executing VR, other aspects you need to consider are the hardware and software needs for VR programs. Hardware needed to create VR does not need to be outside of the realm of normal and available technologies. With VR, the platform for delivery is the key. Mobile VR can function on many of the newer phones starting with iPhone 6 and Samsung 6 (the most popular). When it comes to the Oculus Rift and the HTC Vive, the experiences require gaming PC’s to run smoothly.  In terms of software, Unity is the standard for VR packaging, but you will also need 3D software such as Maya or Studio Max and design software (Adobe CS). The computers that run the software need special configuration or they will run too slow. Lastly, MACs seem to work best.

High level strategic and tactical advice?

  1. Find a client who is motivated to work with the in-house studio over outside vendors for a variety of reasons such as cost, ownership of source, access, security of IP and institutional knowledge.
  2. Have a plan for managing your inexperience with the medium knowing that your positives as an in-house team will outweigh your inexperience.
  3. Be transparent about the use of an external vendor if you choose to use one and explain the plan for transitioning the work in house.
  4. Ensure that you have a diligent project management team on the case that is monitoring and owning the project.

The path outlined above to launch a new service worked for this team with VR, and it can work for your team for almost any new service capability you’re willing to initiate. The key is to determine if you think the business opportunity is big enough to invest time and money into. If it’s a one-off opportunity, the time spent learning the technology or software will not have a high ROI, but if there is legitimate need and demand, then carefully laying a foundation for long-term growth of the service will guarantee success.

The success of creative teams is also rooted in providing team members with professional development opportunities. Cella’s current offerings include Project Manager Boot Camp, May 18-19 in Chicago and Creative Manager Boot Camp, June 6-7 in Dallas. For more information on these trainings or about our consulting services for in-house agencies and creative teams, please email cella@cellaconsulting.com or visit www.cellaconsulting.com.

Maria Sommer has 15 years of Creative, Marketing, and Digital staffing experience.  She currently holds the role of Director of Key Accounts at The BOSS Group and is responsible for developing and overseeing strategic staffing operations for multiple Managed In-House Agency clients.

Maria holds a Bachelor of Science in Marketing from Penn State University, as well as a Certificate in Digital Media from Moore College of Art and Design.

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