Ah, Christmas marketing – the annual 'tug-on-your-heartstrings-fest' that is brands' advertising pinnacle. It's a rather big business, with £24.3bn predicted to be spent this Christmas by consumers, which makes companies jostling for space in your emotions kind of understandable.
And what better way to engage customers than with a technology that can capture the senses, making them feel and think a myriad of different things?
New reserach by Adobe and Goldsmiths, University of London has shown that brands are indeed opting for experiences rather than flat, 2D ads – or at least including both in their strategies. Many big brands are using virtual and augmented reality – as well as AI – to help grab consumers' attention.
The research was conducted as part of a new report, The Future of Experience at Christmas, looking at how emerging technologies are being used in 2016 Christmas campaigns to create new experiences for consumers.
There can be no better time than Christmas to get a better understanding of how, or indeed if, brands are creating new and deeper connections…using these technologies
Over 500 UK-based marketers told researchers what they were planning this Christmas, and over two-thirds said using tech like VR provides brands with a 'competitive edge'.
A further third agreed that it helps drive customer loyalty to the brand, and more than half (55%) believe that using virtual reality is useful in attracting potential customers.
Tapping into consumers' emotions is key for many marketers to make an impact – and a quarter of marketers said they felt emerging technologies were the most effective way to building stronger emotional connections.
Although the use of VR and AR is increasingly being seen in marketing campaigns, there's still a few hurdles to overcome before they become mainstream.
Implementing VR related campaigns is 'too difficult' for a third of marketers at the moment, for a few reasons including lack of knowledge and the fact that they can be too high-budget.
Another barrier may be that the tech simply isn't in the hands of all consumers just yet. Most people have televisions, laptops or smartphones – but VR headsets, even the lower-budget carboard ones, aren't as mainstream just yet.
The research took into account a YouGov poll of over 2,000 UK adults – 44% of which said they have not seen AI, VR or AR used over this Christmas season. But, it's good news as a third said they'd beinterested in seeing this used in future.
John Watton, EMEA marketing director, Adobe said: “Our research has revealed that both marketers and consumers are only just beginning to get to grips with emerging technologies like VR and AR. The demand is increasing, but many organisations are still evaluating whether they have a viable place in their marketing strategies.
"There can be no better time than Christmas to get a better understanding of how, or indeed if, brands are creating new and deeper connections with potential and existing customers using these technologies – in an era when the customer experience is everything.”
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