Virtual reality is still mired in a hype cycle. As it tries to catch on with consumers in a meaningful way, the high costs of the emerging platform appear to be its biggest perceived barrier to success—and by a considerable margin.
The cost associated with VR is the top challenge faced by the market, outpacing other categories including availability of content, fear that VR products will soon become obsolete and awkward headsets, according to a new survey of 811 U.S. adults conducted by ad-tech specialist YuMe (see chart).
For now, very few consumers (16%) own or use an “immersive” technology device, such as a mobile or tethered VR platform or 360-degree camera, the study found. But VR is the most familiar among immersive technologies, as 47% of consumers had heard of it, vs. 31% for 360 video, and 25% for augmented reality.
And, like HDTV before it, seeing is apparently believing, as some 63% of those surveyed who had tried VR say it’s “the next big thing.” On the other end, 27% see VR as “just hype.”
Of those who have kicked the tires on VR, 60% said they think it can help create more engaging experiences and 51% view brands that utilize virtual reality as being “innovative.” The utilization of VR, YuMe said, can create a “halo effect” for brands and draw more attention to their ads.
“VR can tell a powerful story, making people more attached to the brand, and you can measure the effectiveness of those discoveries,” said Victoria Steinberg, YuMe senior director of emerging markets. “Having that ability to feel like you’re there is surreal. And there’s so much opportunity for brands to be become more immersive and connect with their audiences.”
Although gaming is a key category for high-end VR platforms such as the HTC Vive, Oculus Rift and PlayStation VR, watching movies (56%) was the most-cited interest, followed closely by entertainment (55%), education (52%) and discovering a “dangerous” part of the world (49%).
That picture is a bit different among the millennials in the study, as their interest in VR tilted toward dating services, advertising, gaming and training apps and services.
—Next TV contributing editor Chris Tribbey contributed to this story.