How VR and AR will Change Content Marketing
In the early days of Google search, requesting information about any given topic would yield whatever contained just the keywords. When this was abused, new algorithms helped to further define context, punished keyword stuffing, and rewarded relevance via context and sharing from trusted sources.
When users began implementing ad blockers, in protest to being barraged by advertisers tracking their every keystroke on the web, content marketing was the technique that arose in response. It has the superpower of not being blocked as an ad, can be considerably less expensive, and potentially every bit as effective as traditional advertising.
Content marketing and search now involve a combination of media (blogs, video, social platforms, podcasts, etc.), and they must adapt to the ways human can now engage with this content in virtual and augmented reality. What must content marketing and search do to remain competitive? How must they redefine themselves? How to respect the lessons that intertwined them, on these new frontiers?
Technologies which can tap into the full spectrum of our senses, are the adaptations that will eventually be required by content marketing and search. For the sake of this article, we will focus only on vision. Until recently, most content marketing and search were accessed via a highly compressed and forcefully artificial medium of 2D screens. In VR and AR, there are typically two screens, close to one’s eyes, permitting users to view content in a three-dimensional way.
The simplest way to begin adapting content marketing and search, is to remake it for 3D viewing and interaction. Take the following history as an analogy: Google actively ranks results lower for sites not optimized for responsively mobile layouts. Why? More than half of all people accessing the web do so via mobile. As developing countries come online with another billion+ users and even more devices (nearly all mobile), they will be skipping the desktop era and joining us right alongside the mobile one.
It does no one any good to turn up results that will not yield conversions for ads, because they cannot be viewed on mobile. Similarly, search will soon favor content and advertising that is designed for the 3D paradigm on mobile, while slowly pushing 2D websites down into the internet equivalent of fossils in sedimentary stone. If you doubt the veracity of this forecast, consider that Google has already released a VR-enabled smartphone under their own name, called Pixel, and its own VR platform, Daydream. They even released an inexpensive way to enter VR, less than $0.25 cents, with Google Cardboard. What type of content do you think Google will start ranking higher than others, with a barrier to entry that low?
In VR and AR, the headset, body, hands, and eyes, can all be tracked ~100X per second. Search requests, alongside everything one does, provide reams of big data on individual and group behaviors. This is already used to create ever more highly detailed profiles to segment and target such users into audiences, which are then parsed to advertisers.
It will be highly tempting for those handling SEO, SEM, search, advertising, content marketing, etc., to simply purchase and leverage all the data generated from VR and AR. This is likely to work out alright during the gold rush era of these frontiers, but they will eventually run up against what caused content marketing to flourish in the first place. Past being prologue, anyone creating content like the early days of the web, are likely to experience critical, if not fatal blows to their business, far more quickly.
Companies likely to persevere, are those already doing content marketing correctly now: they provide something useful, designed properly for the intended audiences and their devices, foregoing blasting brands on every speck of content, in exchange for developing consumer loyalty. Such companies, to compete, now must make three-dimensionally designed content, along with clever and meaningful ways to interact with it, such as by using gamification. Simply placing 2D content into a 3D space, which may work in these early days, will cause many an agency to die a quick and merciless death in the marketplace.
How do you think the content marketing and search will change once available in 3D? Let me know in the comments section.