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Accelerating Virtual Growth: The Week’s VR + AR News

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A month after Red Bull Media House launched its own VR platform, Red Bull’s CTO is encouraging collaboration between brands, stressing that success will only come if experiences are shared. This echoes the beliefs of the president of GumGum, who states that AR, VR and digital marketing must become intertwined for the technology to become successful and mainstream. Following integrating VR capabilities into its Creative Cloud Suite, Adobe debuts VR advertising solutions for publishers and brands.

Hoping to boost VR market growth, Qualcomm has launched a VR hardware accelerator program. Samsung’s incubator lab is getting seriously into VR/AR, and will debut four mixed reality projects this year. Sony is surprised by the success of its VR headset, whose high sales have established Sony as a premium VR market leader.

IMAX may succeed in scoring a first-mover advantage in the VR space, using its VR hubs to revitalize movie theaters and capture the attention of Millennials. Pokemon Go has driven more than 500 store visits through its partnerships with retailers and is eyeing partnerships with AR glasses developers.

Could VR Capture Millennial Market and Be IMAX’s Ticket to Growth?
The Street — Kaya Yurieff

Last month, IMAX opened its first VR hub in LA and hopes to open five more in the US, UK and China by the end of the year. VR could be a good way to revive movie theaters and attract Millennials, who have had less movie theater experiences than previous generations because they have so many other entertainment options.

Pokemon Go Has Now Driven 500 Million Visits to Sponsored Locations
Adweek — Marty Swant

Pokemon Go has now driven more than 500 million visits to stores partnering with the game, according to the CEO of Niantic. Niantic partnered with the Apple Watch last year, and is now looking at augmented reality glasses project partnerships.

Pokemon Go, Starbucks, and the Promise of Augmented Reality
TV[R]ev — Vince Cacace

An interview with the CEO of Niantic Labs reveals the success of Pokemon Go’s partnerships and integrations with retailers like Starbucks. This merging of the real and the virtual world is wildly innovative, and is a big part of the future of interactive advertising.

Adobe Is Developing Advertising Solutions for Virtual Reality
Variety — Janko Roettgers

Adobe showed off its first VR advertising project this week, with the hopes of delivering similar VR solutions to publishers over the next year. Adobe has already added VR content creation tools to its Creative Cloud software. Eventually, this VR advertising program will offer the same features that Adobe today offers for traditional video advertising, including detailed analytics as well as the ability to target consumers and dynamically swap out content based on the viewer.

Popularity of Sony’s PlayStation VR Surprises Even the Company
New York Times — Nick Wingfield

Sony underestimated the popularity of its VR headset– Sony has sold 915,000 within the first four months of release. These numbers establish Sony as a leader on the premium side of the market, aided by the fact that Sony markets VR headsets as an add-on to the PlayStation 4.

Facebook’s VR Ambitions Could be Threatened by Court Order
Reuters — Jan Wolfe

Facebook’s VR ambitions could be threatened by a court order that would prevent it from using critical software code another company claims to own. Last Thursday, video game publisher ZeniMax Media Inc. asked a federal judge to issue an order barring Oculus from using or distributing the disputed code, part of the software development kit that Oculus provides to outside companies creating games for its Rift VR headset.

Google has Shipped 10M Cardboard VR Viewers, 160M Cardboard App Downloads
TechCrunch — Ingrid Lunden

So far Google has shipped 10 million Cardboard VR sets, and it has seen 160 million downloads of Cardboard apps, with 30 individual Cardboard apps downloaded at least 1 million times each. Google continues to push its Daydream– well over 50% of all content consumption on Daydream is of YouTube content, and now Google is going to put more focus on providing more premium (professional but not necessarily paid) content on the platform in the form of series.

The Fates of VR, AR and Digital Marketing are Intertwined
AdExchanger —  Phil Schraeder

AR, VR and digital marketing are all held back by consumer experiences that don’t meet expectations. According to Phil Shraeder, “VR, AR and digital marketing have the potential to form such a symbiotic relationship that their intertwining paths are a natural next step for each party. Marketers get the tools needed to create brand experiences in which customers can become fully immersed, and VR and AR get access to the resources they need to take their technology mainstream.”

Qualcomm Launches VR Display Accelerator Program
VentureBeat — Dean Takahashi

Qualcomm has launched an accelerator to help hardware companies develop VR headsets. The goal of this program is to accelerate the VR market by helping manufacturers increase the speed with which they are able to create and ship new products, while also reducing their engineering costs.

Red Bull Technology Boss: Brand Collaboration will Unlock VR
The Drum — Jennifer Faull

Red Bull’s chief technology officer has urged brands to collaborate with each other if they want to unlock VR’s potential, stressing that success will only come if experiences are shared. This month, Red Bull Media House launched its own virtual reality platform, which hosts an array of sport, travel and music content designed to be viewed using a VR headset or a mobile viewer like Google Cardboard.

Worldwide Spending on VR + AR to Hit $13.9 Billion this Year
CNET — Alfred Ng

Worldwide spending on both virtual reality and augmented reality could reach $13.9 billion in 2017, nearly half of that driven by consumers, according to a new forecast by market researcher IDC. According to the report, spending on AR + VR hardware is expected to hit $143.3 billion in 2020.

Branded VR: Ads You’ll Want to Watch
UploadVR — Nicholas Robinson 

Jaunt is behind one of the most famous branded VR projects– the Invisible short film, promoting Lexus. Creative ideas, rather than KPIs, drove the Lexus project and Lexus benefited from PR buzz plus connecting with younger audiences. Data from KCPB shows that ad spend on a new medium ramps faster than the medium prior. That means VR is going to achieve critical mass – becoming more competitive and more expensive – faster than social or mobile did. 

VR Marketing 101

As VR’s novelty wears off, marketers need to understand how to create high-quality content with a narrative to engage consumers. “The total number of active VR users is forecasted to reach 171 million by 2018 — that’s 171 million potential consumers of your brand,” Cathy Hackl, chief communications officer at virtual reality boutique studio, Future Lighthouse. “It’s also been proven that when someone’s in a virtual reality experience, they engage with your brand an estimated ten to thirteen minutes. Even if it’s a smaller number of people, they’re actually sitting down and having the virtual reality experience and engaging with your brand for that amount of time, and that is very valuable.”

What If VR Requires a Whole New Language?
TV[R]ev — Cortney Harding

In contemporary film and TV, when characters break the fourth wall, it’s still seen as novel — in VR, it’s kind of the whole point. VR is about participating, letting the user drive the narrative and the momentum and creating something just for them. This means that VR cannot just be another extension of current entertainment content; it must be thought of as an entirely new medium for storytelling.

Samsung’s Incubator Lab is Getting Seriously Into VR + AR
The Verge — James Vincent

Samsung’s in-house tech incubator C-Lab is about to unveil four new projects that dive into VR and AR: Relúmĭno (visual aid application), Monitorless (“sunglasses” that support AR and VR), VuildUS (visualize furniture in your house), and traVRer (travel-focused 360-video platform).

Travel the World in Immersive VR
TV[R]ev — Vince Cacace

So how can brands master the travel space in VR? For one, the more immersive and personal the experience, the better. Just wandering around a city has limited appeal — but if you walk around with a guide who addresses you and points things out, that makes it more personal and immersive. The more the user can explore and direct their own experience, the better.

Pokemon Go Expands With New Content and Big Brand Partnerships
Adweek — Christopher Heine

Pokemon Go worked with brands such as Starbucks and SoftBank on “Pokestops” within the Pokemon Go app. Niantic’s CEO sees Pokemon Go as the birth of AR games, opening developers up to new ways of integrating AR and location-based technology.

Virtual Reality’s Potential for Magic Becomes Real
The New York Times — Brooks Barnes

The Void, a VR startup created by a former Lucasfilm technologist, is opening new experience centers for “hyper-reality” experiences, combining the virtual world over a physical set. The first center is in NYC, charging users $20 for virtual experiences. The Void sees itself as a draw for dying malls, as well as a “gateway drug” for virtual reality.

Unlocking The Potential of Eye Tracking
TechCrunch — Ben Dickson

A large number of VR vendors believe that eye tracking will be an essential part of second generation headsets, and therefore Eye tracking will also be part of the upcoming Khronos VR API, an open standard under development which has garnered the support of Oculus, Google, NVIDIA and more.

NBA and Google Partner For League’s First Original VR Series ‘House Of Legends’
SportsTechie — Mark J Burns

Google and the NBA are debuting a VR series where fans will be able to sit virtually alongside retired players as they walk users through their career, pop culture and other discussion points. The league will release one episode per week.

Is AR Ready for Mainstream Business?
PC Mag — Rob Marvin

Since consumer awareness of augmented reality is still relatively low, in the short-term it might make more sense to market AR as a B2B rather than B2C software. Microsoft is marketing HoloLens in a business-to-business (B2B) fashion but with the end goal of getting the technology to consumers through targeted, branded experiences- calling this approach B2B2C. Lowe’s is using HoloLens for an  AR shopping app.

When Will AR Become a Reality?
Seeker — Dave Roos

Until AR glasses become mainstream, the biggest potential for AR adoption is via smartphone applications. But the technology is still buggy, and many Americans are confused about what augmented reality is.In a ReportLinker survey conducted last September — the same month that Pokémon Go downloads surpasses 500 million — 58% of Americans said they were “not at all familiar with” augmented reality.

IKEA Builds Virtual Kitchen, Lets Shoppers Flip Pancakes
Marketing Dive — David Kirkpatrick

IKEA experiments with VR/AR retail– IKEA Canada has built a VR “kitchen visualizer” storefront that’s powered by HTC Vive headsets.

Audi Uses VR to Let Users Take Cars for a Spin
The Drum — Tony Connelly

Audi has partnered with creative agency POL to create the ‘Sandbox 2.0’, where users can build their own track. The sand creations are scanned by a depth-sensing camera to create a virtual rendering which users can then drive on using a VR driving simulator. This installation was developed by MediaMonks.

Ford is Remaking a Classic Film in VR
MarketingDive — David Kirkpatrick

Ford and its creative agency GTB are teaming up to remake the “C’etait un Rendez-Vous” short film using 360-degree virtual reality technology and featuring a Ford Mustang. The VR film will be distributed this month via Facebook and YouTube, viewable in headsets or on mobile devices in 360.


Each week, we bring you the most relevant stories covering the business of virtual and augmented reality, which we produce with our partner Vertebrae, the native ad platform for VR/AR.