We all know Virtual Reality (VR for short throughout this post) is going to bring some big changes. Of course, the changes are relatively abstract since VR as a whole is very new to the public eye – but that’s not to say it doesn’t have a ton of potential.
Where exactly is the connection between Social Media and Virtual Reality, you might ask?
The most direct connection between the two would be Facebook’s very own VR console – Oculus Rift. Back in 2014, Mark Zuckerberg decided to buy Oculus VR for more than $2 billion dollars. This offer was undoubtedly a thrill for now 23-year-old Palmer Luckey, the creator of Oculus.
To some, Zuckerberg might have bit off more than he could chew. How did the owner of Facebook, a social media site, think he could compete with top video game manufacturers like Sony and Microsoft who would be releasing their VR headsets soon as well? Not to mention Google had also released a more than affordable VR headset, Google Cardboard (also jokingly known as “Oculus Thrift” thanks to many media outlets).
Oculus Rift won’t be the first VR headset to be released to the general public. However, what makes it different is that in addition to video games, the Oculus will provide news, sports, movies and TV. Sure, it’ll operate independently from Facebook just like Instagram and WhatsApp, but Zuckerberg has openly said he wants this product to be THE future of Facebook.
Because let’s face it, what’s cooler than a billion users? A billion users incorporating virtual reality.
If Facebook ends up dominating the realm of VR, they have the right idea in mind. AltSpaceVR has also seen a market in social VR and created a platform allowing users to invite friends to “hangout, chat, play games, and watch videos.” VR undoubtedly has the potential to change social forever – a move that is important to keep an eye on since, as Business Insider put it, “social is, and has always been, the application that drives technologies forward.”
Could VR become the next platform for social media forever? It could very well grow into one. If it does, what happens to advertising through social media on VR platforms?
As platforms grow, they need to find sources of funding. Advertising has been a huge source of funding for platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat in order to keep their sites free (for the most part). Businesses know the value in advertisements. That being said, they’ve already stepped up their game to keep up with VR developments. The beauty of VR is the rich imagery it’s able to provide. Creative teams of brands have the opportunity to pretty much make art out of their ads. Recently, brands have been experimenting with 360-degree video ads like this one from Gatorade:
Facebook recently introduced 360-degree ads on Thursday, definitely an homage to its upcoming release of Oculus. In a recent New York Times article, author Robert D. Hof states how certain brands such as Coca-Cola, HBO, and Volvo are struggling to find their niche in this advertising world, especially if VR is the future of social. But not everyone is behind and Gatorade is definitely not the only brand keeping up with the times. Outdoors retailer, North Face, and luxury denim designer, 7 For All Mankind, have also released VR advertisements within the past few months.
People are preparing for social VR to be the next big takeover. Video game manufacturers saw how it quite literally can change the game. Zuckerberg saw the value of VR and social, and how it has the potential to change how we interact with each other forever. Now, advertising companies are catching on, slowly but surely, with 360-degree video advertisements. What do you think will be the next move for the VR/Social Media collaboration?