tag:econsultancy.com,2008:/topics/virtual-goods Latest Virtual goods content from Econsultancy 2017-07-13T12:00:48+01:00 tag:econsultancy.com,2008:BlogPost/69243 2017-07-13T12:00:48+01:00 2017-07-13T12:00:48+01:00 Is it time to put the kibosh on the VR hype? Patricio Robles <p>"Pretty soon we're going to live in a world where everyone has the power to share and experience whole scenes as if you're just there, right there in person," he told the audience. "Imagine being able to sit in front of a campfire and hang out with friends anytime you want. Or being able to watch a movie in a private theater with your friends anytime you want. Imagine holding a group meeting or event anywhere in the world that you want.  All these things are going to be possible. And that's why Facebook is investing so much early on in virtual reality. So we can hope to deliver these types of social experiences."</p> <p>But a year and a half later, there's little indication that Zuckerberg's VR vision is progressing towards reality.</p> <h3>Trying to spur adoption</h3> <p>The latest demonstration of that: in an apparent effort to drum up consumer interest in its wares, Oculus, the VR company Facebook acquired for $3bn in 2014, <a href="https://www.technologyreview.com/s/608257/another-price-slash-suggests-the-oculus-rift-is-dead-in-the-water/">is temporarily cutting the price</a> of its Rift headset and Touch controllers to $399 from $598.</p> <p>Previously, the cost of the bundle was $798 and some observers are suggesting that at $399, Oculus is likely losing money on each sale.</p> <p>Oculus, which doesn't release sales figures, insists that the price cut is not a result of poor sales. According to Oculus content chief Jason Rubin, the company is more aggressively pushing its hardware because there's now a critical mass of content. "Now is the time to be pushing consumers into the product because they'll find exciting things to do," he told the Wall Street Journal.</p> <p>But despite the fact that there's more VR content than there was a year ago, the Wall Street Journal's Sarah E. Needleman pointed out that "virtual reality still doesn't have a breakout hit game or app, though."</p> <p>With analysts estimating sales of the Oculus Rift, HTCs Vive and PlayStation VR headsets at under 3m units <em>combined</em>, it's clear that VR isn't anywhere near a mainstream breakthrough and according to Reuters' David Ingram, "the industry [is trying] to figure out why the technology for immersive games and stories has not taken off among consumers."</p> <p>There is no shortage of potential reasons, including the possibility that consumers aren't as taken with the idea of sitting around a virtual campfire as Zuckerberg.</p> <p>Whatever the reason or reasons, VR's disappointing consumer adoption certainly isn't the result of lack of investment. Billions of dollars have been poured into the VR market in recent years by folks like Zuckerberg, who declared that VR would "become a part of daily life for billions of people" when Facebook purchased Oculus three years ago.</p> <h2>Better next big things</h2> <p>Right now, the Oculus purchase looks like one of Facebook's least successful acquisitions yet, but while Facebook has the ability to make such bets and absorb the losses if they fail, the VR story is a good reminder that the next big thing doesn't always arrive on time, and that the next big thing might not even be the next big thing.</p> <p>That doesn't mean there aren't markets in which it makes sense for brands to experiment with VR, or that VR won't eventually become important, but in mid-2017 the time has come to acknowledge that the VR hype was very premature and brands have better nascent technologies to pay attention to and invest in.</p> tag:econsultancy.com,2008:BlogPost/66854 2015-08-25T09:20:00+01:00 2015-08-25T09:20:00+01:00 Why you should consider marketing via Google Street View Trusted Farooq Bhatti <p>Utilising the same technology as Street View, the platform allows businesses to show their ambiance, décor and style to online users in a visually engaging manner. </p> <p><strong>The Basics</strong></p> <p>Unlike Street View, the photography is taken by independent local photographers that are trained and certified by Google. The photos are subject to Google quality assurance inspections to verify that the imagery and user experience is of high standard. </p> <p>Street View Trusted is hosted on Google Maps, however it can be accesses through a number of Google products:</p> <p>• Google Knowledge Graph via search</p> <p>• Google Plus </p> <p>• Google Maps</p> <p>Throughout the Google ecosystem, Street View Trusted is presented as “See Inside”.  </p> <p>Dan Root, a Street View Trusted photographer from <a href="http://www.manchesterbusinessview.co.uk/" target="_blank">Manchester Business View</a>, shared with us the work he has done for Rochdale Town Hall.</p> <p><iframe src="https://www.google.com/maps/embed?pb=!1m0!3m2!1sen!2suk!4v1440421674200!6m8!1m7!1s1eaHPX9qwvhxvmJFqCXLkw!2m2!1d53.61579114570704!2d-2.159129930731979!3f132.99!4f0!5f0.7820865974627469" width="600" height="450"></iframe></p> <p>Areas in the red box show where Street View Trusted are shown within Google properties. </p> <p><em>Google Knowledge Graph via search</em></p> <p><img style="vertical-align: middle;" src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0006/6481/GK_-_rochdale.PNG" alt="google-knowledge-graph" width="442" height="460"></p> <p><em>Google Maps</em></p> <p><img style="vertical-align: middle;" src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0006/6482/Google_Maps_-_rochdale.PNG" alt="google-maps-seeinside" width="380" height="431"></p> <p><em>Google Plus</em></p> <p><em> </em></p> <p><img style="vertical-align: middle;" src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/resized/0006/6483/google_plus_-_rochdale-blog-flyer.png" alt="google-plus-seeinside" width="470" height="389"></p> <p>Integration within the Google sphere has meant that the increased visibility will lead to improvement in click through rates, increased engagement with clients and even increased footfall. </p> <p>Anecdotal data indicates that there may even be a correlation with <a href="https://moz.com/ugc/google-business-photos-may-correlate-with-higher-local-search-ranking-although-not-a-magic-bullet" target="_blank">higher local search rankings</a>, although Google has not officially confirmed this. </p> <p><strong>Innovative Marketing</strong></p> <p>Irrespective of what products or services you are looking for, people are always interested to know what they are in for. </p> <p>If your business has a nice atmosphere, it will serve as a selling point and you will naturally attract more clients.  Even a rustic and quirky place can have its allure.</p> <p>Street View Trusted reach is greater than just business premises, it has been successfully utilized to showcase planes, trains, cruises and beyond. </p> <p>Emirates Airlines was a pioneer by showcasing an Airbus A380 to the world. This garnered extensive international media coverage as anyone could explore the double-decker plane and steer their way inside the iconic four-aisle jet from the comfort of their home.</p> <p>Japan’s newest high-speed train, the Hokuriku Shinkansen, showcased its plush interiors to the world prior to its official launch.  Tickets sold out for its inaugural launch in a mere 25 seconds. </p> <p>Royal Caribbean’s Allure of the Sea, the largest cruise ship in the world, become the first cruise ship to have a virtual tour via Street View Trusted. Royal Caribbean rightfully deduced that clients will be tempted to explore the real thing once they had a chance to virtually wonder around this floating leisure paradise. </p> <p>Even car dealerships have embraced the technology, it is possible to sit inside a vehicle at select dealerships to experience how a particular vehicle feels like from within. </p> <p><strong>Google Cardboard – Bringing Street View Trusted to life</strong></p> <p><strong><img style="vertical-align: middle;" src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0006/6479/google-cardboard_-_Copy.png" alt="google-cardboard" width="502" height="324"></strong></p> <p>Google is using inexpensive, corrugated paper to give virtual reality its most affordable and accessible platform by converting every Street View Trusted tour into a 360 degree panorama. </p> <p>Google's Cardboard initiative allows any business to give VR tours with a device that costs under £20, a smartphone and access to the Google Maps application.</p> <p>All of a sudden, if you own a travel agency, you can show your clients what staying in one of the resorts that you offer feels like. In essence, your client can “try before he or she buys”. </p> <p>Some have classified this development as disruptive enough to <a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/66614-will-virtual-reality-revolutionise-the-travel-industry/" target="_blank">change the travel industry</a> forever. Just like current day consumers expect to see reviews for a location before they book, in the near future, consumers may demand an immersive tour before they make their next vacation booking. </p> <p>Just as <a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/66587-10-ways-marketers-can-use-virtual-reality-right-now" target="_self">virtual tours</a> have become mainstream in the real estate sector, as sellers quickly realised that the exposure of a virtual tour will help in the sales process, other industries may come to the same realisation.  </p> <p>Clients of fine dining establishment may feel it’s important to virtually sit within a restaurant before making a reservation. </p> <p>What else could this potentially disrupt? Beauty salons, dentist offices, day care facilities, storage warehouses, local supermarkets, etc.? While it’s too early to tell, the potential is limitless.  </p> <p>With the cost of Google Cardboard and Street View Tours low enough for businesses of every size to obtain, the question then becomes, can your business really afford not to have these tools as part of its marketing arsenal?</p> <p>If you want to learn more about VR for marketing, check out <a href="https://econsultancy.com/reports/a-marketers-guide-to-virtual-reality" target="_blank">Econsultancy’s Marketer’s Guide to Virtual Reality.</a><em> </em></p> tag:econsultancy.com,2008:Report/3809 2015-06-11T15:00:00+01:00 2015-06-11T15:00:00+01:00 A Marketer’s Guide to Virtual Reality <h2>Overview</h2> <p>The boundaries between what we have known as ‘reality’ and ‘virtual reality’ are rapidly collapsing. An experience online is as meaningful to many as an experience in the physical world. And both can interact with each other.</p> <p>Virtual reality allows people to experience a brand’s offering in a real and visceral way that other media cannot equal. It can transport people to a stadium, a holiday destination or a shop. It can do this with animation or real video. It can even do this in real time with live streaming. The possibilities for selling experiences, educating and entertainment are endless.</p> <p>The<strong> Marketer’s Guide to Virtual Reality </strong>attempts to demystify the world of virtual reality and explain how it can form part of your marketing ecosystem.</p> <p>The report includes the best case studies from across sectors and explains how marketers can utilise virtual reality right now as part of brand strategy.</p> <h2>What you'll learn</h2> <ul> <li>Understanding virtual reality and how it fits in with the trend towards the breaking down of barriers between online and physical worlds.</li> <li>Case studies on how brands are using virtual reality.</li> <li>The breadth of opportunity afforded by virtual reality from brand extension, to content to advertising.</li> <li>Important considerations for planning a virtual reality strategy.</li> <li>Important considerations when contemplating creating a virtual reality experience.</li> <li>A guide to the platforms and headsets.</li> <li>Ways to approach virtual reality creation, generate ideas and find inspiration.</li> <li>How to measure success.</li> </ul> <h2>Who should read this report?</h2> <p>This guide has been written primarily for C-suite and marketers but is equally relevant for those working in advertising.</p> tag:econsultancy.com,2008:BlogPost/66234 2015-03-23T15:56:00+00:00 2015-03-23T15:56:00+00:00 Is Facebook about to open Messenger to content producers, brands? Patricio Robles <p>Facebook can be a great friend to publishers and brands. For many, the world's largest social network has been and is a significant source of referral traffic.</p> <p>But Facebook's friendship with content producers is a complicated one. Changes to the algorithm (previously known as <a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/9770-facebook-edgerank-what-marketers-need-to-know/">EdgeRank</a>) which Facebook uses to determine what appears in their users’ news feeds, can make or break a content producer's Facebook fortunes.</p> <p>By <a href="http://www.marketingtechnews.net/news/2014/nov/24/edgerank-costing-publishers-millions-lost-revenue/">one estimate</a>, <strong>publishers are losing hundreds of millions of dollars a year because of EdgeRank.</strong></p> <p>Despite the potential ills of EdgeRank, Facebook's billion user-plus audience will <em>always</em> make it an attractive platform, and it might get even more attractive in the near future if reports that Facebook is looking to open its Messenger app up to third party content are accurate.</p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0006/1371/_F8_developer_conference.jpg" alt="" width="960" height="640"></p> <p><a href="http://techcrunch.com/2015/03/19/facebook-messenger-platform/">According to</a> TechCrunch, Facebook is set to announce at its F8 developer conference that it will be giving third parties the ability to integrate their content into the Messenger experience.</p> <p>Aaccording to TechCrunch's Josh Constine:</p> <blockquote> <p>At first, Facebook will focus on how third parties can build ways for content and information to flow through Messenger. Depending on the success of the early experiments, Facebook may then mull bringing more utilities to Messenger.</p> </blockquote> <p>That could be big news for publishers and brands looking for more ways to reach consumers on the globe's most popular social platform. While the shape of Facebook's Messenger integrations won't be known until the company makes an official announcement, Constine points out that popular Asian messaging applications such as WeChat and Line as examples of the direction Facebook might take.</p> <p>On Line, official accounts allow users to follow prominent content sources, including news agencies, celebrities and sports teams. They can also purchase a variety of branded content, including stickers and emoji.</p> <p>WeChat goes well beyond content and has become a platform for commerce. Users of the Chinese service use the chat app to purchase everything from movie tickets to taxi rides. </p> <p>Given that Facebook just <a href="http://newsroom.fb.com/news/2015/03/send-money-to-friends-in-messenger/">announced</a> the ability for users to send money to their friends using Messenger, it seems entirely possible that will soon seek to incorporate into Messenger more content and commerce features similar to those found in services like Line and WeChat. </p> <h2>Starting slow</h2> <p>Because of the risk of spam, which plagued Facebook's news feed in earlier times, Facebook will probably start slow. Content producers and brands shouldn't expect a free-for-all. More likely: small experiments conducted with select partners.</p> <p>Despite the mouth-watering appeal of being able to insert themselves into the Messenger experience, content producers and brands should take it slow too.</p> <p>First, it's not clear that Line and WeChat-like experiences will be as well-received in markets like North America and Europe.</p> <p>Second, while the extent to which Facebook will open Messenger to third parties is still unknown, it is all but certain that content producers and brands will need to treat Messenger differently than the broader Facebook platform. <strong>To succeed, they'll have to see how users react, learn the rules of engagement and develop thoughtful Messenger-specific strategies.</strong></p> <p>Content producers and brands should also take their time because Facebook has made it clear that it will do what it believes is in the best interests of the company and the consumers who use its service. As with EdgeRank, <a href="https://social.ogilvy.com/facebook-algorithmic-change-to-decrease-reach-on-brand-page-posts/">which some suspect Facebook has used to drive ad sales</a>, what Facebook giveth today it can change or take away tomorrow. </p> tag:econsultancy.com,2008:BlogPost/65946 2015-01-08T11:30:00+00:00 2015-01-08T11:30:00+00:00 How the new EU VAT rules and MOSS affect you Nicholas Chowdrey <p>The <a title="New EU VAT rules" href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/65810-new-eu-vat-regulations-threaten-small-businesses-vatmoss/" target="_blank">new EU VAT rules</a> have annoyed a lot of people, mainly due to their complexity and wording. For example, the Regulation states that the changes will only apply to those providing digital services.</p> <p>This is confusing, because actually the rules not only cover digital services like broadcasting and telecoms services (think Skype or Vimeo), but also products, such as ebooks, games or other downloads.</p> <p>The broad effect of the legislation is another big reason why small business owners are upset.</p> <p>Really, the rules are a good thing, as they’re meant to stop the current VAT evasion practices of big multinationals.</p> <p>For example, Amazon currently funnels its EU sales through a subsidiary in Luxembourg, benefitting from the country’s extremely low VAT rate.</p> <p><img src="http://assets.econsultancy.com/public/imgur/zNabgyH.jpg" alt="" width="4012" height="1998"></p> <p>The new rules will force Amazon to register for VAT in every country it supplies to, meaning member states will get the taxes they rightly deserve.</p> <p>The problem is that the rules have been implemented with no threshold, meaning that even if you’re a really small business with a limited turnover, you’ll still be affected.</p> <p>This seems highly disproportionate, and it’s safe to say that neither the EU nor HMRC has properly considered the impact the new rules will have on micro businesses.</p> <p>Thankfully, a small victory for the small business community has been made. So much of a fuss was kicked up about the huge impact the new rules would have on UK microbusinesses that <a title="HMRC VAT changes" href="http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/businessclub/11268706/Victory-for-UK-micro-firms-as-HMRC-tweaks-EU-VAT-MOSS-rule.html" target="_blank">HMRC agreed to make some changes</a>.</p> <p>Basically, if you’re a UK business and can separate your UK from your EU sales, you’ll only have to pay VAT on any UK sales over the current threshold of £81,000 gross a year.</p> <p>Unfortunately however, this has made it even more difficult to figure out whether or not you’re affected.</p> <p>Add to this the several other criteria that could affect your position and it’s no wonder the whole thing has been dubbed a right <a title="#VATMESS" href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/vatmess" target="_blank">#VATMESS</a>. </p> <p>HMRC tried to clear things up by, in the Revenue’s inimitable fashion, publishing an ugly and intimidating flow chart.</p> <p>Thankfully, Crunch Accounting made an attractive click-through quiz version for you to try out instead, which you can find at the bottom of their post on the <a title="New EU VAT rules" href="http://www.crunch.co.uk/small-business-advice/2014/12/09/affected-new-eu-vat-rules/">new EU VAT rules</a>.</p> <p>If you’re still confused about what these changes mean, and whether or not you’ll be affected, here's a short video explaining the basics:</p> <p><iframe src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/lbb0e1YYT_E?list=UUIoPE66PBHp1xXOaXxsn2dA&amp;showinfo=0&amp;wmode=transparent" width="651" height="366"></iframe></p> tag:econsultancy.com,2008:BlogPost/65404 2014-09-04T09:33:00+01:00 2014-09-04T09:33:00+01:00 Is social shopping making a comeback? Darryl Adie <p>This failure to take off hasn't been for lack of trying. Second Life was briefly seen as the beginning of a true virtual retail environment, a digital space where users could visit and purchase from virtual reality stores.</p> <p>Major brands including Adidas and Dell built Second Life presences, only for the phenomenon to fade as fast as it rose.</p> <p>More recently, Facebook has made multiple attempts to create <a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/9092-can-f-commerce-work-for-retailers">F-commerce</a> options.</p> <p>Facebook Gifts was a short-lived attempt to enable people to buy digital gifts and send them to friends within Facebook, whilst Facebook Credits attempted to incorporate ecommerce into the social network via a virtual currency.</p> <p>Used mostly to purchase virtual goods within Facebook games, the company discontinued this feature in 2012.  </p> <h3>2014: the year of social commerce?</h3> <p>Despite this limited success to date, social shopping is making signs of a comeback. With global ecommerce sales set to hit $1.5 trillion this year, social networks are as keen as ever to break into this lucrative sector, attempting to move from pure engagement and awareness towards actual conversions and sales. </p> <p>According to reports, <a href="http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/newsbysector/mediatechnologyandtelecoms/digital-media/10974851/Facebooks-buy-button-lets-you-purchase-products-in-posts.htmlhttp:/venturebeat.com/2014/07/17/facebook-may-make-its-ads-shoppable-meet-the-buy-button/">Facebook is currently experimenting with a “Buy” button</a> that will be added to status updates from selected brands.</p> <p>This feature will enable brands and retailers to post updates about products and, instead of directing customers to the online store to complete the purchase, they will be able to make purchases by simply clicking the “Buy” button.</p> <p>Credit card details will be kept on file with Facebook’s servers, making transactions easier than ever.  </p> <p>Meanwhile, Twitter has just announced its acquisition of CardSpring to enable "in the moment" commerce from within user’s Twitter feeds. This has the potential to turn social recommendations into purchasing opportunities.</p> <p>Anything retailers currently post with the intention of getting a like or retweet will become an avenue to increase sales. </p> <p>Another new social shopping initiative comes from Amazon. In early May the online retail giant announced a joint initiative with Twitter called <a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/64793-amazonbasket-is-it-anything-more-than-a-gimmick">#AmazonBasket</a> (#AmazonCart in the US).</p> <p>With this hashtag, users can now add items to their Amazon carts directly from a tweet, finishing the checkout process on Amazon.com whenever convenient.</p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/resized/0004/7729/amazon_email-blog-full.jpg" alt="" width="615" height="389"></p> <p>Whilst initial figures are yet to be released, there have already been questions about the service. The mechanic in itself doesn’t provide any immediacy to purchasing, as users still have to log in to complete the transaction.</p> <p>There are also questions around whether brands can provide enough collateral in 140 characters to truly influence conversion.</p> <p>For example, social shopping service Soldsie announced the expansion of its social selling presence. The Soldsie shopping experience begins when a brand or retailer posts a photo of a product with pricing information on Facebook or Instagram.</p> <p>Shoppers express their purchase intent by commenting with the word 'sold' and can then continue browsing. When they are ready to check out, the item they commented on will be in their cart ready to buy.</p> <p>Whilst social shopping as a concept holds much promises, it remains to be seen whether it will be widely adopted by consumers.</p> <p>Users have thus far firmly ignored the opportunity to buy as they socialise online and it’s not yet clear if the latest social shopping approaches will change this retail inertia. This being said, if #AmazonBasket, Facebook’s “Buy” button and Twitter’s “in the moment commerce” do catch the attention of consumers, the potential appears to be significant.</p> <p>The sheer volume of online social users presents a major retail opportunity and, when combined with the acknowledged power of social recommendation, could create a channel of unprecedented reach and power.</p>