Over Two-Thirds of Consumers Opens To Ads In Exchange For Free Streaming Video

Nearly nine in 10 consumers have access to connected television (CTV) but they may soon be experiencing subscription fatigue. A recent survey from Integral Ad Science (IAS) found that 76 percent of consumers are willing to see ads in exchange for watching free streaming video and 55 percent plan to watch free video streaming services in the next 12 months.

The IAS Streaming Wars report shows that adults aged 18-44 have the highest level of CTV access, with an average of 91 percent having access to a CTV. Preference for CTV has also grown as 59 percent of respondents say they use CTV as the primary method of streaming video.

The majority of consumers (84 percent) say they subscribe to at least one paid streaming video service with 79 percent noting that they currently use Netflix followed by 68 percent who are currently using Amazon Prime Video.

Consumers have access to almost three paid streaming services, indicating the market is potentially nearing saturation. Similarly, 64 percent of consumers say they don’t plan to add a subscription video streaming service in the next year resulting in new challenges for content providers to reach new users.

With 76 percent of consumers open to seeing ads in exchange for free streaming video and with free streaming services on the rise, IAS suggests increasing advertising to reach more consumers as ad supported content models will lead to increased CTV consumption.

Emarketer predicts that advertisers will spend $8.8 billion on CTV in 2020 and surpass $10 billion by 2021. The researcher also says CTV usage in the US will surpass 200 million in 2020. 

Findings from IAS Streaming Wars report are based on an online survey conducted among 1,270 consumers in December 2019 aged 18-60.

Leveraging Technology During A Crisis

We’re all cooped up, but humans are still desiring to go outside and explore. Introducing virtual reality to help provide a sense of relief and normalcy during this shelter in place epidemic. Let’s take a look at how companies are utilizing virtual technology to continue marketing efforts and keep people engaged, entertained and active. 


Premier Soccer Players Training in VR

What’s happening: Players are using virtual reality technology to keep their skills sharp during stay at home orders. Originally created for rehabilitation purposes, this software utilizes shin pad and foot sensors to track movement and skills within VR. Best of all, it’s working. Players are saying that they’re seeing improvements in awareness and more.

Why it matters: When the world shuts down we need to lean into technology that’s already at our fingertips to keep life going. This repurposing of existing software and hardware is a great way to find new and unique ways to keep ourselves active and sharp while we don’t have the luxuries of normal life. 


Tourism And Virtual Reality During Coronavirus 

What’s happening: Travel companies are looking to virtual reality during this pandemic to give agents the tools to continue marketing travel. Through 360-degree and cinematic productions, travel agencies are able to continue to show would-be travellers their options, from cruises to hotels and resorts, this could be the way people learn and book future vacations even after COVID-19.

Why it matters: The travel industry is just one segment that has been hit rather hard from the coronavirus outbreak. Through the power of virtual reality, businesses can give at-home audiences a taste of what some of these far-off and exotic locations are like. While not looking to replace these actual experiences, virtual reality is helping many companies that would otherwise shut down keep people interested and planning during this time of isolation.

Digital Advertising In The Age Of Coronavirus

The global spread of COVID-19 is shaping up to be a crisis like no other. Through analysis of over 100.6 million global “coronavirus” related searches, Captify’s latest Impact study gets a pulse on how this pandemic is impacting consumer behavior and how businesses can navigate through these uncertain times.

The world may have faced pandemics before, but novel coronavirus is different. The first worldwide crisis to hit during the internet age, the spread of this virus has already begun to radically reshape almost all forms of human interaction, and marketing is certainly no exception.

Captify has made it their mission to map these changes as they happen. ‘The London-based search intelligence company is the largest holder of consumer search data outside of Google and over the last few weeks the company has used its unique technology to understand the intent and interests of consumers across all channels, including voice search, desktop on-site search and in-app search. The results make for fascinating reading, more than ever, that search marketing is fast becoming the canary in the coal mine when it comes to mapping and predicting trends in consumer behavior.

Waking People Up To The Danger

The world has been slow to react to the danger of COVID-19 (coronavirus disease 2019). Despite the virus spreading through the Chinese city of Wuhan back in January, the first learning from Captify’s report is that it took a considerable amount of time before consumers reacted to the danger at their doorsteps.

“Initially, we saw a very slow burn because I think people originally thought [coronavirus] was a very Chinese-related virus and it appeared to be spreading slowly,” explains Anand Siddiqui, Captify’s global VP of insights and analytics.

“Our data clearly shows just how people have been taken by surprise. A lot of people were thinking that it was a remote issue, only affecting small numbers. So despite all the warnings, it still took people a long time to wake up to the dangers.”

The trigger that caused the majority of people to sit up and finally take notice wasn’t the high-profile lockdowns of Chinese and Italian cities, but a major celebrity coming down with the virus. “It was only on March 12th when searches for COVID-19 overtook the actual number of cases. That was the day that Donald Trump banned flights from the EU and the NBA suspended its season, but it was also the day the news broke that Tom Hanks had caught the virus. I think this was a wake-up call for a lot of people, as suddenly they thought ‘well, if he can get it, so can I.'”

Search Behaviour In A Time Of Crisis

It may have taken the West a while to cotton on, but since the beginning of March, coronavirus has seen search behaviour change across the globe at a frightening pace. From Millennials to family shoppers, the study looked at how the pandemic drove remarkable changes in behavioural patterns and the brands that consumers are looking towards in this time of crisis.

The results so far have mirrored scenes on the nightly news; fast-moving consumer goods, home delivery services and pharmaceuticals have all seen massive boosts to their usual search interest, while travel, events and luxury goods have all seen declines that border on catastrophic. “We wanted to look at well-acknowledged audience segments and really try and understand the brands and products people are searching for and the motivations behind them,” notes Siddiqui. “Millennials, for example, seem very concerned with streaming and figuring out what they’re going to watch during lockdowns, while family shoppers are much more focussed on healthcare and household goods, searching for brands like Charmin, 3M and Panadol.”

“Generation Z is an interesting bunch,” says Siddiqui. “For them, it’s all about entertainment–with COVID-19 producing a real boom in interest around gaming. Gamers, in general, will be an important segment and we’re already seeing that these are starting to spike. People are already looking for ways to continue their social interactions, and gaming, as well as messaging apps like Google Hangouts and Zoom, are going to become more and more important over time.”

“Similarly, among professionals and business people, we’ve found that mental health has become a very important topic. I mean, it makes sense when you think about it–home is now suddenly a workplace for a lot of people, and there needs to be some sort of balance. With all the pressures that are coming through now, people are looking at ways to stay healthy at home, be that mediation, yoga or pilates.”

A Real Stress Test For Brands

Scanning across the brands mentioned in the study and you’ll quickly see that in these times of uncertainty, many people rely on long-established comfort brands. Part of Captify’s study looked at our current must-have products, and the list reads more like your mom’s shopping list that search history, with the likes of M&Ms, Lysol, Clorox, Bacardi and Cheerios all seeing huge spikes in interest.

“I think in one way, this shows how a real focus on brand-building has really paid off,” explains Siddiqui. “It’s no surprise that products that have made themselves sticky with the consumer are obviously top of mind when it comes to the essentials.”

However, he is keen to stress that it’s still very early. In fact, the study has followed a global spread of panic buying almost in real-time, reporting that there has been a 300 percent increase in searches for bulk buying and multipacks. “It’ll be interesting to see what happens to many brands if supply problems continue. If the trends we’ve seen over the last three weeks are anything to go by once your go-to product is no longer on the shelf, then I suspect your decision making process when looking for a replacement will be far-faster. I think all the money a lot of brands have spent to make sure that they’re top of mind when you’re in the shop will end up being wasted, and it’ll be interesting to see how brands are going to recover from that.”

The End Of Maslow’s Hierarchy

Even at this early stage, the virus is showing how our buyer behaviour has been fundamentally affected by the world wide web, leveling some of marketing’s longest-held orthodoxies in the process.

“I think we’re going to see massive changes in our behavior because of this,” Siddiqui warns. “An event like this has the power to rip up the way consumerism works and that is going to have huge consequences on the way that we shop, socialize and do business. I kind of think someone will rewrite Maslow’s ‘Hierarchy of Needs’ on the back of this. At the moment we’re seeing people hunker down, figuring out what they need to do and reassessing their priorities, and for the first time, things like entertainment and connectivity are being held up as basic needs.”

For marketers, the problem now is how to navigate this new reality. “We’re still seeing budgets being spent and we’re working with brands to help them understand how they can support their business in the coming months,” offers Siddiqui when I ask him for his predictions. “One thing that is glaringly obvious already is that marketers need to adapt and adapt quickly. It’s going to be important for marketers to remain engaged with their audiences, but also shift their message. We need to shift our narrative from ‘how can we sell more?’ to ‘how can we support our customers during this time?’ The messaging needs to be simple, factual and empathetic and focused on identity & values over profit or gain.”

Monthly US Podcast Listeners Exceeds 100 Million

The number of monthly podcast listeners grew 16 percent year-over-year to 100 million (104 million) consumers for the first time in 2020, according to Edison Research and Triton Digital’s annual study, “The Infinite Dial 2020.”

Seventy-five percent of Americans aged 12 and older (about 212 million people) are now familiar with podcasting, up from 70 percent in 2019. Fifty-five percent (155 million) listen to podcasts in general while 37 percent (104 million people) listen to podcasts monthly, up from 32 percent (90 million) in 2019.

It’s more important than ever that brands create content easily retrievable through voice as consumption of both podcasts and voice-operated assistants rise. Over six in ten Americans use some form of voice assistant technology and nearly one-third of smart speaker owners have three or more devices in their homes.

Other noteworthy survey findings include smartphone ownership growing to 240 million, smart speaker awareness growing to about 220 million and smart speaker ownership growing to 76 million. The mean number of smart speakers per household grew from 1.7 in 2018 to 2.2 in 2020. As smart speaker ownership increased, radio ownership decreased, as the mean number of radios per household went from three in 2008 to 1.5 in 2020.

Consumer habits related to smartphones, tablets and smartwatches have shown no new growth, indicating that in-car audio has the most potential for digital audio growth. In fact, 45 percent of Americans aged 12 and older have listened to audio in a car through a cell phone.

Findings are based on a national telephone survey Edison Research conducted from January-February 2020 among 1,502 people aged 12 and older.

What Marketers Need To Know About Earned Media Value

The industry standard for measuring earned media value (EMV), Ayzenberg Group’s Social Index released its Q4 White Paper findings including case studies and insights on the latest social media activations. 

We spoke with Ayzenberg VP of product and technology Chris Strawser to learn how marketers can overcome challenges with organic social, the key to turning owned media into earned media and how to approach social and digital strategies amid the coronavirus panic.

What is the top challenge marketers face today with tracking organic social content and what are some things they can do to overcome this?

As we highlighted in the latest White Paper, organic is a challenge, especially as it pertains or as contrasted to paid media tracking and attribution or any digital channel, because the platforms have a bit of the upper hand on how you’re able to do that. 

In terms of tracking performance, we created Social Index because it allows people to actually put a metric against their performance rather than eyeball their follower count or engagement rates or use some sort of social listening tool that allows them to understand what shared voice they have or how they’re tracking with sentiment against their campaign messaging.

Because social by itself doesn’t necessarily lend itself to any conclusion, part of what we do for our clients is take earned media value (EMV) or social index and put it in a constellation of other data points, drawing conclusions and making recommendations based on what we’re seeing. We’re trying to provide people with a top funnel data point that will lend itself to understanding a little bit better about how social performed for them down the funnel.

Beyond creating meaningful calls to action and planning SMART, how else can marketers get better at converting owned media to earned media?

We used to use the term return on investment (ROI) more than we do now and I think it’s because ROI is a little misleading. When you go to an executive and say, this is your ROI, they’re expecting that to be dollars in the bank, for lack of a better term.

This is more like valuation. So there’s a valuation we’re putting on your current social media performance that through your own channels should then translate into earned media. If you’re evaluating yourself week over week, month over month, quarter over quarter and that valuation continues to increase, you should see a direct cause and effect between the value of your owned channels translating into earned media. And we’re seeing that type of cadence and result for some of our biggest clients. 

But when you’re trying to figure out why the valuation went up for a certain campaign as opposed to the other, it’s about looking at exactly why it worked—was it the creative, the copy or a combination of both. Was it the cadence of the messaging in the campaign, how often you were touching people and reaching out and how often they were engaging?  The valuation that we provide is a springboard for people to then figure out the reason why a campaign was valued more.

Can you explain how the new EMV calculation method Ayzenberg created works and how it solves the issue of comparing EMV to actual budgets? 

What we’re trying to do for our clients is to make sure that they know where they should be spending money, especially in contrast to how they spent it before. We have a lot of clients who are spending inordinate amounts of money on creative. If you’re running something that you know is going to resonate more on Twitter, spending a lot of money on creative isn’t the priority and instead you might need a more tight communication strategy associated with the campaign than you do for Instagram.

We’re also trying to coach people on using EMV the way they calculate it internally because everyone seems to have their own way based on what your campaign KPI is for. If you were going top funnel, say awareness, then go for impressions. Maybe you’re not going deeper into engagement rates because that’s not really the point. If it is about the impression, then maybe you don’t need certain resources allocated against the effort and you can save some time and streamline some of the effort going into it in the future. 

What we had people doing was adding all of the impressions, every share, like, retweet and subscription and then saying, okay, our overall EMV is this. If you looked at that figure more from a statistical perspective, you’re looking at an inflated number because that’s not how most other marketers work through other channels. They don’t have a campaign geared specifically towards certain KPIs and then add in all the other ones that trickled in or came along in the periphery of things.

How should marketers shift their social content strategies during coronavirus?

Even if you have a brand that doesn’t tie directly to anything that’s going on right now, or at least you think you don’t, one of the things that we found at Ayzenberg, especially through our marketing science department, is that younger age demographics, particularly millennials, care about what your brand thinks about other things beyond what the brand offers—your stance is on certain things. Social media right now then is a great way for a lot of brands to make a name for themselves and put forward a certain type of messaging that they haven’t before, but shows a lot more empathy and engagement. For example, share the things they’re doing for the community. 

You’re reaching people on social media right where they are and those people are consuming information in the minute that it’s released. A brand who’s able to capitalize on that real time, ‘this is happening right now’ information is going to see a pretty big lift in earned media. 

This way you’re making the brand much more approachable than maybe it ever had been before, because now you’re talking to people about something they care about at the moment rather than talking about your sale on products and services.

Does that also apply to digital content strategy amid coronavirus?

Most social media managers and teams are able to put out really good quality messaging that reflects very well on the brand very quickly. Whereas with digital mediums, there’s so much lifting that goes on to get something out the door. There is something about social that is so immediate and impactful that I think social should be the leader. Your digital channel should follow. So it’s flipped, especially in times like these. 

But I would even say this applies generally. I think you should be thinking social first, because of the possibilities and then make sure that everyone else falls in line behind it, which is a little bit of a paradigm shift for most organizations. I think we still struggle getting clients and customers to think that way, but times like these help them because they see the impact social can have.

With the rise of social commerce, how important will Pinterest be for marketers looking to boost discoverability?

Social commerce across the board should definitely see an increase in demand however it’s been slow due in part to the user experience that some of the platforms are putting forward. 

Right now, I don’t know if anyone’s really figured out the commerce user experience very well. But I do think that it should play a much bigger part in the next two to three years. These platforms are still playing in a bit of a Wild West and have to figure out on their own since there’s no playbook for them to go on.

Snapchat emphasizes self-service advertising with its Lens Studio and Lens Web Builder while advertising capabilities on TikTok are still nascent. Which platform would marketers be wiser to create owned and/or paid content for today: TikTok or Snapchat, and why?

It depends on what your KPIs are and what your goals and your target audience is. The younger you get in those segmentations I think that both of them become increasingly important. TikTok is a little bit more niche in its communication style, so you may have some limitations based on the campaign you want to run through TikTok rather than Snapchat.

You don’t necessarily have to pick and choose. You have to know what you’re after and who you’re after. Once you have those questions answered, you can start to dig into whether or not you choose one of the two platforms or maybe both. In those cases, most people do both and they tailor messaging to the platform.

Instagram recently said it’s testing IGTV monetization with in-stream ads—how will this affect its performance against YouTube? 

It really depends on who the audience is. YouTube has a strong monthly user base that ranges from mobile to smart TV across every audience. There isn’t a niche not represented on YouTube. We don’t see IGTV as a competitor to connected TV or desktop advertising. While Instagram has become more popular with broader audiences over the years, we don’t think it’s as robust of an audience to sell to as YouTube (plus it’s limited to mobile, and only recently allows horizontal video).

Which tool or strategy to power KPIs for influencer and social campaigns do marketers undermine the most today?

This is relative to what part of the funnel you are targeting with influencers: awareness? consideration? conversion?

For awareness: Here you’re going to want to focus more on total reach and cost efficiency (CPM, CPV) of that reach, along with brand lift as measured by surveys and search lift.

For consideration: If video is available, view duration combined with total views to create a “High Quality Video View” that measures people watching more of the content (this is rare unless it’s run as an ad). Alternatively, typically clicks and website traffic are good targets.

For conversion: Actual Conversions (as defined by the organization) and cost efficient (CPA, ROAS).

One week remains to get our new White Paper promotion.

Robots In Training; Virtual Car Tours Become Routine

This week we’ve got some stories focusing on virtual reality. From bathroom cleaning robots to virtual car tours, VR is changing how jobs work and how consumers get “hands on” with physical products from anywhere. 


Bathroom Cleaning Robots Programmed Through VR

What’s Happening: Somatic utilizes VR to “train” robots to handle the dirty work of cleaning bathrooms. The team involved uses virtual reality in simulations to show the robot how and where to clean in the bathrooms. The robots are then free to clean and refill/recharge and repeat.

Why it Matters: This shows a way that VR is starting to apply in day-to-day uses. Beyond using VR for training people, it can also train robots.


Virtual Car Tours

What’s Happening: Porsche announces VR tours of the Taycan before the cars have reached those dealerships. This virtual reality experience lets would-be buyers explore the car, interior and exterior, view it in different colors, and additional visual information. This isn’t the first VR car tour we’ve seen, but it looks like Porsche is aiming to make this a part of their ongoing efforts in the future.

Why it Matters: We’ve talked about VR travel before, but this is a new way to bring the digital product to people when there’s no physical product available, and this opens a whole slew of doors. 

As the virtual reality install-base increases, consider thinking about how we can use this newish medium to bring our product to our audience. How can you convert the physical experience to a digital one that accurately represents your product?

How XR Can Enhance The World We Live In

This week we take a look at how XR technology is shaping the future. Current events cannot be ignored, but how can we look to technology to help support us in these days of uncertainty?

Read on to explore how XR can help solve current problems (looking at you COVID-19) and solve current business and cultural strains through technological solutions.


VR And AR Can Solve Current Event And Conference Participation

What’s happening: From the Game Developers Conference to Tokyo’s Cherry Blossom Festival, we’re seeing events get canceled due to coronavirus concerns, and rightfully so. XR could be the solution to these unfortunate circumstances. 

Why it matters: Imagine a world where conferences and events have a virtual component allowing anyone under any circumstance to participate and join events from anywhere in the world. 

While the challenges and barriers to this solution are present, the opportunity to look to AR and VR technology to solve problems such as this and make the world more connected already exists today.


The Future Is XR

What’s happening: We’ve covered many XR applications in our short time on AList with a specific focus on AR/VR solutions. However, this article is a great reminder of what can be done in the XR space. This article explores the opportunities and many ways that companies can begin looking at the future of technology.

Why it matters: From entertainment and gaming to medical applications and inmate rehabilitation, VR is reshaping the world we live in and opening new doors providing ways for the public and businesses to experiment and explore the world, giving pause to consider how you can leverage these new avenues to tailor content for your customers in a new and engaging way.

Home Depot Sees Payoff From Mobile, Digital Marketing Efforts

Home Depot’s mobile marketing efforts appear to be paying off. Crediting growth to its 2019 holiday ad campaign, its mobile app downloads saw double-digit growth, according to the company’s Q4 earnings call.

CNBC reports same-store sales were up 5.2 percent, topping Wall Street’s expectations. Home Depot’s Q4 revenue fell 2.7 percent to $25.78 billion from $26.49 billion a year earlier but exceeded analyst estimates of $25.76 billion.

In December 2019, the company ran a 32-second television spot called “It’s a Good Time to Be a Doer” showing how customers can use the Home Depot app to identify unknown parts, pick up purchased items in-store via Home Depot lockers and take advantage of the company’s delivery services.

Home Depot has also stepped up its digital offerings. Around the same time the home improvement retailer launched its holiday commercial, it added a section on its website detailing its mobile app’s features.

“We believe that the front door of our store is now in the customer’s pocket, it’s on the job site, that most of our customer’s shopping experience actually starts in the digital world even if it finishes in the physical world,” Home Depot CEO Craig Minear said on the earnings call.

Home Depot’s Q4 performance reflects its continuous efforts to boost experiences across all consumer touch points especially during the holidays. In 2018, Home Depot partnered with Verizon Media for a personalized digital holiday campaign to promote its selection of holiday decorations. Home Depot became the first brand to pilot Verizon’s augmented reality (AR) ad unit and in doing so, allowed consumers to visually bring to life their Christmas tree and all of its decorations from their mobile phones. Users spent an average of over two minutes interacting with the AR ad and the campaign received a 12.5 percent click-through rate (CTR) from the ad to the Home Depot landing page.

“It’s interesting because we’re seeing that people are using their mobile and in-app functionality even when they’re within our stores. So, even if they’re in our physical environment, they’re still using our mobile app. This demonstrates the multichannel shopping experience that we’re living in today. In addition to letting shoppers check store product availability via our site or mobile app, we’re also incorporating voice and visual search into our efforts,” Home Depot senior director of marketing Dawn Erksa told eMarketer in September 2018. 

From a feature standpoint, Erksa added, voice and visual search are generating the greatest adoption.

Home Depot announced plans to hire 80,000 associates this spring to prepare for its busiest season of the year, Nasdaq reports.

Integrating AR And VR Into Business And Marketing

This week in Extended Reality (XR) we saw AR integration coming to Chrome and a company that looks to enhance current stationary bicycle experiences through the power of virtual reality technology. 


Chrome Getting AR Support

What’s Happening: Google’s Chrome 81 will get support for web-based AR. This means anyone using Chrome as their browser will be able to experience augmented reality moments right through their browser rather than needing a specific AR application or Google’s AR options built into the camera. 

Why it Matters: When browsing the web, users have the entire world at their fingertips. With this new integration, marketers have access to a whole new world of AR. We can create content that can be explored without the need to download additional apps, breaking down a huge barrier in converting users who are hesitant to test out the medium. With AR integration built in to Chrome, the door to new and exciting digital marketing experiences has flung wide open.


Virtual Reality Takes Exercise To The Next Level

What’s Happening: VirZOOM looks to enhance exercise experiences by taking the stationary bike anywhere in the world. With a handlebar attachment and virtual reality headset, you can teleport your exercise experience from the gym to locations like Iceland and beyond. 

Why it Matters: We should always be looking at how things are done and how we can use emerging technology to expand on and enhance the traditional methods. In this case, VirZOOM saw VR as a way to enhance stationary bikes into something that’s emotional and creates a story. How can you look to future technology to enhance your product or marketing approach?

Extended Reality Becomes The Norm At Sundance

This week in Extended Reality (XR) news we see an increase in demand for augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) developers as well as a huge turnout of virtual experiences at the Sundance Film Festival. XR is coming, are you and your business ready with innovative ways to take advantage of this new(ish) medium?

We previously used XR for mixed reality, however after digging in a bit more we’ve identified the umbrella term of Extended Reality (XR) which is used to define all real-and-virtual worlds combined is becoming more and more common. This primarily encompasses augmented reality, virtual reality, and mixed reality (think a combination of virtual reality and real life) but may include other realities that haven’t been invented yet. Going forward we’ll use XR in this space. 


AR/VR Engineering Jobs On The Rise

What’s Happening: AR and VR engineering jobs are on an uptick as companies look to XR to reach potential new customers as this technology lets people experience product offerings in a completely new and interactive way. 

Growth in interview requests for AR/VR among software engineers is up 1,400 percent from 2018. Facebook currently has more than 3,000 jobs with the terms “AR/VR” and Amazon, Microsoft, Apple, and Google have a total of 1,000. The AR/VR industry is expected to reach $571.42 billion by 2025

Why it Matters: When building new technological experiences it’s important to look at where any given industry is and look and current trends. This growth in XR is a very good indicator that not only entertainment but a variety of industries are going to be impacted by the disruption of augmented and virtual reality. If you’re looking to build a team around AR/VR solutions, it’s a smart move to start looking at potential candidates now rather than later. 


AR And VR Take Sundance By Storm

What’s Happening: Sundance film festival goers typically expect traditional flat entertainment. However, this year VR and AR experiences are disrupting the norm as attendees are interested in a plethora of interactive and personal experiences. Showings include virtual space experiences with waterproof VR rigs, to incredibly personal and emotional 1:1 moments. The shift in packed theaters to longer intimate experiences VR can be seen as attendees prioritize what’s important during their time at the festival and this is ushering in a new notion of VR not being an isolating experience, rather one that allows people to make memorable and personal connections.

Why it Matters: Every brand has something to offer, and as marketers, we have a huge opportunity to leverage VR and AR to make these brand connections more meaningful for our audience and potential fans. By using technology that lets people feel closer to others or brands, we can create authentic experiences that will have fans talking about our products with a personal relationship (or at least create a very memorable and cool virtual reality story to tell).