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Top 4 Ways Virtual Reality Can Deliver ROI for your Purpose-Driven Brand

Image credit: The Clinton Global Initiative

The first time I watched virtual reality, I knew that it was going to become an incredibly powerful medium for doing good. At Matter Unlimited, we're in the business of doing good by amplifying the power of brands and organizations to drive positive change in the world. Immediately I recognized the opportunity for us to tell stories in VR that bring people closer to understanding a wide array of social issues. Still in its infancy, the medium is becoming quickly adopted by brands, the entertainment industry, news media and nonprofits alike, who are all jumping on board in an attempt to revolutionize the way storytelling is done in their respective industries.

The challenge for us at Matter Unlimited, in addition to creating compelling content, is how do we ensure this work will create the kind of empathy that drives viewers to action? Additionally, will we be able to showcase ROI in the VR space?

To answer these questions, an organization must first define its purpose for creating a VR experience (e.g. to change brand perception, raise brand awareness, garner donations, increase customer acquisition) and establish measurement protocols.

When our team at Matter Unlimited set out to create a virtual reality film for the Clinton Global Initiative (CGI), we worked closely with its marketing team and our partners (Oculus, Felix and Paul Studios, and M ss ng P eces) to define clear objectives and KPIs. While there are many ways to measure the efficacy of VR content (more on this later), the newness of the medium means more hard and fast metrics will become available as content libraries expand and measurement partners jump on board (i.e. the likes of Nielsen, Millward Brown, etc.).

In order to measure the success of the film, we created an ecosystem outlining how it would live across multiple events and channels, and mapped KPIs to meet the goals of engaging both existing CGI members and new audiences.

The results to date have proven successful against our objectives - and similarly could for your organization, as well – in the following ways:

1. Enhanced Brand Perception Among Existing Members / Audience

There is no doubt that creating a virtual reality film will help position an organization as modern to its audience. While the Clinton Global Initiative is a highly esteemed and respected organization, it was challenged in explaining to a broader audience exactly what CGI members accomplish through the innovative philanthropic approaches found in a CGI commitment to action.

We leveraged the emerging interest in virtual reality with the aim of highlighting CGI commitments in a revolutionary way. Rather than just telling people about the wonderful work the CGI members are doing, we allowed the public to experience and feel it for themselves.

2. Strengthening Existing Relationships

The public must opt ­in to experience VR, unlike the vast majority of branded work. Given this, we believe that when an individual views an organization’s VR film, they are signing up for a deeper emotional connection with that brand. Virtual reality experiences can be so vivid that they are akin to creating memories, and so it’s up to the brand and agency to make sure the content is primed to create this special connection. “Inside Impact: East Africa” treated its subject matter with great respect, and we believe the careful process is reflected back to each viewer. 


3. Raising Awareness Amongst New Audiences

When distributed and activated well, VR films have the potential to receive positive press and word-of-mouth exposure. Since its launch in September 2015, “Inside Impact: East Africa” has received 150 million earned impressions across a number of prestigious media outlets, from technology to business and philanthropy, exposing the organization and film to new audiences in key demographics (“globally conscious citizens”). In order to ensure that everyone could experience the content in some form, we created a 360-degree video version for viewing online and launched with Facebook Spherical Video. The online version of “Inside Impact: East Africa” has received 1.15 million views, 20 thousand likes and 1600+ comments. 


4. Creating Personal Connections with New Audiences

Because VR is still in its early days, many people are eager to try it for themselves. Creating a virtual reality film provides brands with an opportunity to engage existing and new audiences in a person, intimate way. “Inside Impact: East Africa” has enabled our team at Matter Unlimited to travel around the country to events and conferences like Sustainable Brands ‘16 San Diego, introducing The Clinton Global Initiative to some incredible new audiences, not to mention our agency, as well.

In addition to the above objectives and KPIs, virtual reality has the power to achieve a number of organizational goals. As more and more organizations dive in and join the ongoing experiment, we will see more metrics being published across desired customer/supporter actions.

From driving brand consideration, familiarity, purchase or donation, loyalty, advocacy, and even ongoing and sustained interest and engagement, virtual reality is demonstrating the potential to impact individuals’ perceptions of - and behavior towards - brands and organizations in a truly novel way. Our goal is to work with the world’s most forward-thinking brands and organizations to tell more VR stories of positive social change. 


Over the past 20 years, Rob has been on the front line of innovation in advertising, digital marketing, and branding. His groundbreaking work for GE’s “Ecomagination” campaign and Obama’s HopeActChange.com site created a new barometer for success in the… [Read more about Rob Holzer]