Cannes Musings: Emerging Technology Insights (video)

Posted by Elise Mitchell on August 1, 2018

How to Use and Measure Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality in Your Next Campaign

blog arvr 

From virtual reality to mixed and extended reality, there are many new technologies communicators can use to create memorable, engaging experiences. It’s easy to become enamored by the shiny ball as well as confused about the best way to bounce it, which is why as PR counselors we must be willing to learn how these new technologies work and understand how to best use and measure them effectively.

I was lucky enough to spend a few minutes visiting with Dave Meeker, global head of emerging technology and innovation at Mitchell’s sister agency, Isobar, while we were both attending the recent Cannes Creativity Festival. Isobar is a digital agency with 85 offices across 45 markets, and Dave works throughout the agency to examine and cultivate emerging technology and enable each market to create next generation experiences for its clients. He is inspiring, innovative and has an appreciation for the power of public relations. His father founded Edward Howard & Co, a PR firm in Ohio. 

As Dave and I visited between sessions at the ICCO House of PR, I captured a few takeaways from our conversation.

How and why to use emerging technology?

The secret to using and measuring emerging technologies effectively starts by understanding what technology can and should do to empower creative thinking.

“We don’t bring technology to clients simply because it’s new,” said Dave. “We want to kick the tires first and understand how it works. We want to bring forward technology for the right reasons.” 

There are a few critical things to ask before using technology in any creative campaign:

  • Is there a clear purpose for technology?
  • Does it help create a meaningful experience?
  • Will it be seamlessly incorporated without causing friction between audiences and brands?
  • Can I measure and demonstrate how technology impacted our results?

Knowing these answers can set you on the right path to impactful user experiences.

What are similarities and differences between augmented reality and virtual reality?

Two of the most common new technologies, augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR), are ideal tools for storytelling and open a new world of opportunities to engage audiences. But how do you know which one to use and for what purpose? 

While both technologies use 3D content and are rapidly growing among consumers, their applications are somewhat different.

  • AR overlays digital content onto the real world to enhance user experience. It is accessed through a companion app or digital device. Think Pokémon Go or seeing the trajectory of a soccer ball during a televised World Cup match. In a retail setting, it can be used to engage shoppers and allow them to unlock rewards, such as the Jurassic World promotion, which our agency recently pitched as part of an in-store activation.
  • VR is an immersive experience that requires a headset or similar equipment. It isolates the user and transports them through sight and sound into another world. VR is ideally suited for gaming, entertainment experiences, and training simulations. It is also highly effective for creating empathy. For example, a VR film can allow a user to experience life as a Syrian refugee or better understand the indigenous culture of Australia.

Dave shared another great example of VR that earned his agency a Grand Prix in Digital Craft this year. Isobar created a music video for Billy Corgan of The Smashing Pumpkins that was shot on a virtual set with 3D content. Users can wear a headset to watch the song “Aeronaut” and explore the virtual environment as Corgan performs. It’s a remarkable example of how technology can enable creativity and engage audiences.  

How do we measure emerging technologies?

Dave and I also discussed the measurement imperative. How can you determine technology’s impact on client KPIs, or evaluate how it has changed behavior, attitude or sales? 

The intersection of neuroscience, behavioral science and creativity is incredibly exciting in this area. We are now able to scientifically predict and evaluate consumer response to our communications. For example, Isobar has created a proprietary measurement and analytics platform to quantify augmented and virtual reality experiences for clients. Their process takes real-time biometric readings of a user during an experience to understand what they’re feeling.  

“This allow us to do advanced user experience testing in the design process and validate the content once it’s live,” said Dave. “We’re able to amplify or tone down content based on user reaction.”

Other methods of measuring AR and VR effectiveness include:

  • Eye-tracking
  • Length and level of engagement with the content
  • Skill or knowledge enhancement
  • Content recall
  • Downloads
  • Purchases

Emerging technology and the effective use and measurement of them can open the door to a world of creative possibilities. I hope my conversation with Dave inspires you look for the right opportunity to incorporate AR or VR into an upcoming campaign.

You can watch a video of our full conversation here 


Elise is the Chairman and Founder of Mitchell Communications Group and CEO, Dentsu Public Relations Network

President, ICCO

2014 PR Lions Jury Member 

Topics: Digital and Social, Innovation, trends, DAN, analytics, industry headlines, Cannes, emerging technology