Thinking years ahead from today, there’s little doubt my now three-year-old great-niece will be spending a good portion of her adult life enjoying the diversity of a screen-less society. She’ll look at a world enabled by highly-evolved AI, absorb information and entertainment and have problems solved for her. She won’t necessarily be tethered to a device and will be free to create her own environment virtually. While physical screens, such as a mobile or fixed display, are the assumed content enablers at present, the future offers much more flexibility.
Nielsen claims 39 percent of outside-the-home viewing comes from millennials and Generation Z. While it’s yet to be determined how social behaviors will change when viewing options for entertainment become even more spontaneous, one can’t help to think that social dynamics will be affected. Having the ability to market and advertise to this audience across physical and virtual planes will offer new opportunities for monetization, promotion and engaging customers.
In addition, today we think about monetization across a few screens, with consumers frustrated by a less than frictionless experience moving between them. Virtual experiences enable brands to connect with customers along an entirely new path. And this is especially true for entertainment, where customers are given the ability to interact with their chosen brand in a far more active way.
No strings mean more opportunities
If you take a look at visionaries like Elon Musk who talk about the potential to build 100 Gigafactories capable of powering the entire world and eliminating the centuries-old wired energy grid system, it’s more than plausible to see what the future (it’s already here) holds for content. It will be untethered, customizable and available via virtual screens and virtual environments, as well as viewable on demand as a widely available experience (not just for early adopters or gamers). Furthermore, with network evolution, smart glasses (or some form factor of a mobile device) and companion apps, entertainment viewing will grow more immersive and customizable, thanks to augmented, virtual and extended reality.
Moreover, new entertainment, ad-related and product placement retail options will emerge, from putting the latest Smosh video up on a virtual screen to interacting with one of your favorite actors virtually to product placement in real-time to make sure you like how that designer shirt (worn by that same favorite actor) will look on you before you make the in-app purchase. All of these abilities will be standard in our everyday lives. In essence, advertising and branding will be three-dimensional, participative and highly-texturized, while lean-back promotions will be able to add immersive and compelling experiences. Considering the creative possibilities, such an added dimension is thrilling.
In-app purchasing will continue to skyrocket
According to app intelligence firm Sensor Tower, app revenue skyrocketed by 35 percent in 2017 to nearly $60 billion. Notably, roughly $48 billion (or 82 percent) of this came from mobile gaming, including paid apps and in-app purchases. Fortnite made an astounding $296 million in April across platforms, with an estimated $1 million in spending per day occurring on mobile devices. When coupled with AR alone (which is expected to achieve a growth rate of over 65 percent CAGR between now and 2025), this buying trend will naturally create a stimulating environment for advertisers who want to make the most of this entirely new viewing platform. On top of this, when you add extreme personalization supported by AI and an untethered consumer, the chances for engagement are dramatically increased. The result is that over the coming years, coincident with hardware availability at price points for the broader population, we’ll see an opportunistic period of trials for marketing and advertising in the virtual world.
Getting back to my niece, with the aids of AI, global personal/virtual academics and new data-related sciences, her intake of information and ability to react will only increase. Augmented and virtual innovations in advertising can proactively take advantage of this. The technology is transformative, and the applications are endless, for entertainment and much more. Whether it’s a display hanging in the family room or one of many used by our kids (big and small), the ability to create a life-size or size-customized virtual viewing experience with glasses, frame or pocket-sized device to consume content anytime will come second only to consuming it anywhere.