Stories

Why augmented reality will replace virtual reality in 2017

In 2016, publishers and platforms invested in expensive virtual reality storytelling technology hoping to sell high-impact advertising against it. It wasn't easy.

It was too early: Media companies weren't wrong betting on VR, but the market wasn't quick enough to adopt it through headset purchases and app downloads.

It couldn't go viral: Most VR headsets, like the Google Cardboard, weren't tethered to a digital platform that could make VR stories easy to share, like or engage.

It was isolating: The technology was immersive, but had to be consumed at the individual level. The viewer couldn't engage with other consumers in real time.

It was expensive: A VR piece could cost an advertiser anywhere from up to $500,000 or more to produce and required an additional large-scale investment to promote and distribute the content on or through a publisher's network. With some high-end partnerships totaling $1,000,000+, and few having enough key performance metrics to back their effectiveness, many advertisers couldn't risk the investment.

What's next?

Several outlets, like The New York Times and Verizon Labs, debuted new augmented reality products at the 2017 Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas this week, hoping to find better luck monetizing a platform that the market embraced through apps like Pokemon Go and Super Mario Run in 2016.

Last week, Snapchat announced that it acquired an Israeli augmented reality start-up called Cimagine, to begin experimenting with AR technology on their platform.