- The amount of investor dollars going toward virtual and augmented reality (VR/AR) has dramatically risen over the last year, a growth of about 7.5x, according to research from CB Insights.
- While investors put $144 million toward VR and AR in Q1 2015, investment in those technologies ultimately reached $1.08 billion in Q1 2016 alone, eMarketer reports.
- Separate research from the UBM Game Network found that 20% of gaming professionals were working on augmented reality apps last year, up from 7% in 2014.
The most interesting thing about these figures is that they are all from before the recent Pokemon Go craze. Given the fast-growing interest in VR/AR technology and the wild success of Pokemon Go — the first AR or VR application to reach the mainstream — marketers should expect to see an even higher interest in VR/AR technology.
For a time, it seemed as if the marketplace would bypass augmented reality tech in favor of virtual reality — as evidenced by Facebook’s investment in Oculus Rift and Samsung’s entry level Gear VR headset. Analysts expect VR to become especially valuable for B2B marketers since prospects can be given immersive product demos that might otherwise require a trip to a showroom or manufacturing floor.
It may be too early to suggest that Pokemon Go has changed that outlook by becoming extremely popular in an extraordinary short period of time, but it has given marketers a blueprint on how AR tech can be used for business opportunities. Aided by mobile devices, AR can help bridge the gap between the online and offline user experience and offer a great test case for adding simple AR gamification to mobile marketing assets.
Experts say that AR marketing does require a special approach, however. According to the Harvard Business Review: “In order for the potential of AR to be realized ... companies have to resist the urge to hastily create AR apps (that risk appearing gimmicky), and instead focus on better understanding how consumers will interact with the technology."