Virtual reality and 360° rooms in the last year have increased in popularity to overcome the lack of in-person events and conferences; the ‘new’ marketing is unfolding.
At Gosling, we have adapted marketing strategies to allow businesses to target changes in their consumers’ thinking. Pushing expectations to the next level and offering our clients an “outside of the box” virtual reality alternative.
A virtual space that allows the user to move around 360° compared to a flat virtual space. Aspects can be interactive within the space, allowing for users to click and watch different things.
What do 360° spaces mean for events?
Recently one of our clients requested we explore a virtual launch for two of their products, this is where we put forward the 360° space concept. We foresaw that audiences would become inundated with similar virtual content and we wanted our clients’ product to stand out. The 360° space allows for an interactive and engaging alternative to a simple flat design
Needless to say that designing online spaces for these now virtual events is only one hurdle to overcome. Working from home has its many daily life distractions – from children, to your Amazon delivery at the door – so with events also from home, it is vital that we engage audiences through these virtual realities as best we can.
Virtual reality designs have been successful for our clients and Econsultancy found that over 80% of marketers reported greater audience reach thanks to virtual spaces.
With 360° spaces, the audience reach potential is massive, as you can have the rooms live and available for a year or more after the event has taken place. This helps consumers to reference and remember your work.
What else has changed?
Innovation is constant and the next best thing is always just around the corner, so it is paramount to think ahead. As Forbes writes, virtual events are up 1000% since COVID-19, with the next stage to try and make these events more interactive, particularly as there is great competition from the best entertainment and content sources online – YouTube, TikTok and Facebook.
With this, there has also been changes to the demographic disparity which defines the current media consumption. There is a clear gap and challenge to finding ways to target audiences across demographics with engaging design. As Econsultancy found the:
- 16-34 age group spend 79% of their time obtaining commercial media digitally (increasing from 59% in 2015),
- 35-54 year-olds changing selected media habits,
- 55+ audiences taking a slow pace of change.
When creating an online space for our clients, we have seen the opportunity to utilise 360° rooms. Taking into consideration the demographics, engagement and innovative ideas, we want to give the consumer an immersive experience. The 360° rooms allow for audiences to click on different aspects of the room from finding hidden pieces of information to videos of talks, improving engagement on the sites.
Our 360° room
For our 2020 Christmas card, we used a 360° space to display a cozy, warm cabin, where clients could interact with the features, such as quizzes and festive facts. It was greatly received, particularly because so few had seen a 360° space executed in this way.
Do you feel that since the pandemic started, the need for online/virtual has really picked up at Gosling?
Josh: We have been moving to digital asset creation over the last five years or more. We have found that there has been an increase in requests for video briefs, iPDFs etc. but in terms of hosting an event online, yeah definitely this has grown massively since before the pandemic.
Rebecca: Yes definitely, I think there was always a need for digital solutions and that increases year on year but as we moved through this pandemic, the need for solutions to mitigate the lack of face to face grew enormously. These virtual reality rooms are perfect, allowing audiences to dip in and dip out at their leisure. There are no time constraints. Conferences are intense, and can be information overload. The beauty of these rooms is you can take your time, come back to it later at night or early in the morning when days are quieter.
Have requests for virtual/online spaces increased? How have we adapted these at Gosling?
Josh: Oh yes definitely, the virtual realities that clients and consumers are after to fill the void of real-life interaction, at events or conferences, is a big priority. At Gosling, we wanted to create online spaces for clients so they have a way to engage with their various audiences, we have done a lot of work in a 360 space because A) Its different, stands out and is more engaging and B) it’s far more interactive.
Rebecca: Yes, requests from clients for these have increased, we produced two for product launches, where clients then saw the potential as a holding space for content like an online resource library. The original ideas are being adapted for different aspects of a company’s assets, which is really helping them to improve their digital offering.
What is your understanding of what clients are after?
Josh: For many businesses, there is much change happening, so knowing what to do or how to strategise digitally to achieve a multitude of things is difficult, but that’s where our experience can help. The challenge is finding the right solution that is achievable within timescales and budgets. When we outline the strategy to the clients, we ensure that we set realistic attainments and use the best resources to help gain this. The 360° spaces have played a massive role in helping create an immersive, engaging virtual reality for them.
Rebecca: Clients need cost effective solutions to ensure important information reaches the right people and is easy to understand. So by using videos, virtual spaces, interactive PDFs etc it gets the information across in an engaging way.
What components are clients keen to see in the spaces?
Josh: Interactivity, touchpoints, links to different areas. Sometimes we have to advise that keeping things simple or straightforward for the user is important, i.e. we don’t overload the space as this leads to a decrease in engagement.
Rebecca: Engaging videos, testimonials, fact sheets. Bitesize pieces of information, not long paragraphs, as it’s important not to overload.
Can you track analytics for these spaces?
Josh: We are able to capture analytics for our 360° spaces which gives our clients great insight into how well the space is performing and the engagement. Initial reports suggest that the spaces we have currently created have resulted in engagement which has exceeded our clients expectations. Which is very positive and motivating to see what else we can achieve!
Do you foresee people will stop using these spaces once we have the ability to meet face-to-face? Are people excited to get back to in person events or do they prefer virtual realities?
Josh: From what I’ve gathered I think there will be a mix or hybrid. Nothing beats face to face, but I can imagine budgets being reined in, and also impact on the environment (emissions etc) so there is definitely room for both to work in tandem.
Rebecca: I think there will be a mixture. Face to face is really important to build relationships but from a cost saving point of view these rooms, if designed correctly and enriched with good content, they can do just as a good a job. Perhaps in future they will do face to face and then have these rooms as a reference point to support their customers with further information.
What has your feedback been about the 360° spaces?
Josh: We’ve had really great feedback. Being that a 360° space made the clients work stand out against the multiple ‘online events.’ Engagement was higher than expected and the clients loved it. Even with our own Christmas card this year, we used a 360° space to create a cosy log cabin, with little fun interactive sections on there – the feedback we got was really positive and everyone enjoyed the different aspects to it.
Rebecca: Great levels of engagement, repeat visits to the spaces, plus people can return to these spaces over and over again with the potential for these rooms to be available for 12/18 months and longer!
For more information on our work: https://goslingdesign.com/portfolio/