While the lockdown has hit many organisations hard, social distancing measures struck an especially devastating blow to those in the tourism, arts and culture sectors, with many restrictions still remaining in place today.
Earlier this month, I took a call from a live performance venue and art gallery, who were eager to understand how immersive technologies could help them achieve their goals as they emerge from lockdown.
Like many organisations shifting from crisis mode to business continuity, they needed a solution for how they could use the web to bring to life the experience of visiting their venue, and remain visible and viable through the ongoing uncertainty.
Many organisations responded to the lockdown by doing more of what they know: adding new website content, publishing photos and videos, reactivating dormant social media accounts, live streaming and holding Zoom events.
My caller, however, wanted a standout solution; to create an online experience that would replicate some of the magic of a visit to their real-world venue, while being as accessible as possible.
This is not something social media channels, blogs, videoconferencing, or even 360-photos or videos can deliver.
It is, however, something the immersive web does extremely well!
What is the immersive web?
The immersive web (also known as WebVR or WebXR) brings a blend of powerful communication technologies directly to your web browser:
The interactivity of video games
The 3D graphics and spatial sound of virtual reality
The connectivity and usability of the web
Plus, there’s nothing to install and it works with a range of devices, from smartphones to the latest virtual reality headsets. It’s been around since 2017 and has been used by brands such as Ford, NASA, Sony and Toyota.
The immersive web allows you to create online 3D spaces, such as a replica or ‘digital twin’ of your real-world premises or a fictional location, for others to explore online.
If you too want to give your target customers a richer online experience that can deliver a great return on investment, then here are five reasons why you need to add an immersive web experience to your online strategy.
1. People want to escape and virtual spaces fulfil a basic need (especially during a lockdown)
The greater the restrictions on movement, the more we looked to our devices for escapism. The number of people searching for the terms “Virtual Experience” soared in the spring, and is continuing to rise, according to Google Trends (see right).
Even before lockdown, researchers found that immersive spaces achieve significantly greater engagement times, recall and positivity compared to other forms of online communication.
Providing your customers with space, freedom to explore and a moment of escapism when they need it most, creates a strong positive experience which they will associate with your organisation long after lockdown is lifted. They are also more likely to share and recommend your content to others.
2. You have 100% of your visitors’ attention, so you can focus on delivering your goals not algorithm requirements
With an immersive web experience, you have total control over what visitors do, see and hear. Unlike publishing content to Facebook, YouTube or Instagram, where users are bombarded by links to other people’s content, within a virtual space there is nothing to distract your audience. Their focus is 100% on the experience you have created and the stories you want to tell.
This leaves you free to focus your resources on creating the experience that best serves your needs rather than the social media algorithms' needs, which can compromise quality and become expensive and unsustainable, especially for smaller businesses.
3. Supercharge your customers’ online experience
With website technology at its core, the immersive web seamlessly integrates with your online content. You can display and link to everything you would expect to see on a webpage, e.g. videos or documents.
Plus, you can also:
Include 3D photorealistic digital replicas of real-world objects
Use animation to bring scenes to life
Simulate physics and enable users and objects to interact
Bring people together in a 3D environment for a shared experience
A digital twin of your venue is also a great accessibility feature for visitors who may struggle or be unable to access your real-world venue.
4. Flexible and easy to update
Like updating a web page, changing the look of an immersive web space is immediate and instant.
Showrooms, museums and galleries, are all flexible spaces that change frequently. Unfortunately, often organisations that want to add immersive content create 360-degree virtual tours using photos or launch bespoke Apps. These, however, date quickly and keeping them updated can be time-consuming and expensive.
Creating an immersive web experience gives your content the greatest audience reach because it works with a wide range of technologies and popular browsers, irrespective of the operating system. Experiences that don’t use the immersive web may only work on specific devices.
Moreover, new features are being added all of the time by an enthusiastic community of developers, helping to keep your content fresh and exciting for many years to come.
How Bright Immersive can help you
If you’re experiencing similar challenges to my caller or you want to find out more about how Bright Immersive could create a bespoke online immersive experience to support your recovery and growth, please get in touch or see Immersive Design Services for more.
I’d love to hear your thoughts on this post as well as about any online immersive experiences that you've visited over the last few months - just post a comment a below. Thanks!