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Indian brands wake up to augmented and virtual realities

NEW DELHI,COLLIN FURTADO: Pokemon Go became a rage in India even without the Niantic formally launching the game here. This has obviously caught the attention of marketers who are constantly in the look out for newer ways to push their brands and make more money.

Enter advertising campaigns with augmented (AR) and virtual realities (VR).

Tata Motors, in as early as April this year, introduced its new small car Tiago using virtual reality. The carmaker’s brand campaign for the Tiago featured a DIY (Do-It-Yourself) VR headset in select newspaper editions, giving consumers a feel of the car, albeit at a basic level. This lead to a slow growth in the number of brands using AR and VR to reach consumers. Axis Bank, for instance, has used AR for its mobile application.

Growing the AR and VR market

The AR market globally is expected to reach $117.4 billion (at compounded growth rate of 76%) by 2022, while the global VR market is expected to touch $34 billion (at a CAGR of 58%), according to MarketsandMarkets report called Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality Market – Global Forecast to 2022. “The increasing demand for AR and VR technology-based products in various verticals such as consumer, aerospace, defence, commercial and medical is responsible for the market growth,” said the MarketsandMarkets’ report.

The Asia-Pacific region is the fastest-growing market as it includes countries like China, Japan, South Korea, and others, the report added.

So what are the costs of creating an AR or VR creative ad in India?

“Cost for AR can vary from as minimal as Rs 10 lakh to over Rs 1 crore, depending upon the detailing and coding needed for the AR experience. VR, on the other hand, can be a simple 360-degree video which can cost around Rs 7 lakh to Rs 1.2 crore as it may involve camera like GoPro, Drone, Nokia Ozo and lot of post-production work,” says Ashish Limaye, CEO – APAC of creative production studio and agency

Happy Finish which specialises in 360 degree videos and have created VR creatives for Tata Tiago, Renault, Glenfiddich, among other brands.

So is the equipment cost such as for buying the VR headset (HMD) an impediment?

“Not at all, the Google cardboard is cheap and freely available. Expensive ones like Oculus Rift and HTC Vive might be an issue though,” says Rijiv Dingra, Founder and CEO of WATConsult, which has launched new research division ‘Recogn’. For instance, Google Cardboard is available for as low as Rs 269 on Ebay, while Oculus Rift is as high as Rs 39,847 ($599).

The crux of the issue

Pratik Gupta, Co-founder of FoxyMoron believes the problem lies not with equipment cost but with the specialised software cost which are used to produce these AR or VR campaigns.

“Very few know how to use these AR and VR software and if you go to people who do they charge a high premium,” he said. Dingra believes that talent for creating good AR and VR creatives is scarce and that is an impediment.

Not just a passing phase

Dingra, however, says he sees more brands experimenting in the next 2-3 years. “It’s here to stay and from a 10 year standpoint it could be one of the most important consumption tool of our generation,” he added.

Limaye pointed out, “It could have been a passing phase, if the ecosystem – mobile phones, Head Mounted Displays (HMD), bandwidth and platforms to promote these were not present. Today you can shoot a VR content and upload it on Facebook or YouTube which gives a mass reach. I believe the ecosystem is coming together well to deliver good experiences and hence it should be a function of time, but not a passing phase.”

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