In 1992 I went to a party a local ad agency put on for their fifth anniversary that had a virtual reality booth set up in it. Yes, back in 1992.
It looked something like this. It's no wonder people lost interest and the technology rapidly lost steam. Fast forward to 2017 and the tech has grown immensely. 360 video is being done for nearly every big brand out there and is garnering "view through" rates (the vr equivalent to display ad "click through" rates) of up to 30% compared to CTRs of .3% for most display ads (and that's being generous).
Pretty exciting times for advertisers and social media "gurus" alike, for sure. But how does this affect your message? Should you tailor your message to fit the medium?
Every new advertising and experiential channel brings about new challenges and questions like these for brands but, in my opinion, brands need to be consistent with their voice regardless of the medium. The look and feel of their brand should also stay consistent across all platforms, although there is some flexibility here (it is advertising, after all). Maybe you change the way you say it or have contextual tweaks that make the experience a little more relevant to the viewer/reader but the bottom line is this: a brand is like a person - you wouldn't respect someone that changed what they said they believed in based on their audience, or if they suddenly developed a Madonna-esque British accent, started talking like a gangsta or had a country twang when it suited them. Mercedes is Mercedes no matter what road they're on. And a smaller brand, like most that I work on, has even more of a reason to speak with a singular voice. They usually have less money to spend on their media and every message counts toward their brand takeaway. Their brand awareness is minimized when they try to be different people.
Maybe, just maybe, the millennials wouldn't be so hard to talk to if brands would just speak the truth instead of trying to change themselves to fit their consumers. Authenticity seems to be a talking point whenever this discussion comes up in our shop. So, brands that try to conform to their medium won't stand a chance.
In closing, as a brand manager/marketing director, if you feel like you want to dip your toes into the exciting waters of technology for the first time, be sure to do it gently and go slowly so that cold water doesn't change your voice.