3D, Virtual Reality (VR), and Augmented Reality (AR) offer a variety of technologies for content creators to tell their stories and for audiences to experience these stories. Each provides the user with a different immersive experience and a real marketing effort, lacking in the past, to move from the early adopter stage to mass acceptance. Among the general public, new viewing technologies are often perceived as hype with little value beyond the initial coolness effect. A perfect example is the 3D home market which has been stuck in the early adopter stage for many years without any progress and along with the 3D in general has been declared dead for quite a few years. In fact, televisions have come and gone with very little success and small screens such as smart phones and tablets have as of yet to make any improvement to this situation. For the purpose of this paper, the combined immersive technologies will be referred to as xR.
The most important thing to remember when marketing these immersive technologies is that the target market does not need xR, xR content, or xR viewing products. In fact, they do not need high definition, color, or even higher definition. They need the experience. Viewers need to experience that xR can give them, an immersive viewing experience. Content providers need a tool to tell their stories and to immerse their audience to better experience their story. I cannot say this enough: it is all about the EXPERIENCE.
Introducing different advanced graphics for mass acceptance to a skeptical audience is not as simple as just producing a cool technology and have people beat down your door. It is going to take “demand generation.”
What does success depend on?
The success of different viewing technologies depends on the public demand, content providers, the display providers, access to the content, and improvement of the public’s perception as more than just another fad. All must come together precisely for the acceptance of these technologies as the de facto standards in home viewing. So far, a true comprehensive plan has been lacking. Most have depended the coolness factor to sell their products. Too many declarations of the death of 3D, bad press, and negative public perceptions make this plan highly unlikely to produce any success.
This paper covers the current state of the market, a definition of the right marketing techniques, positioning in the right light, overcoming public perceptions, and overcoming negative press. Each product area has different challenges and opportunities for success. This paper discusses the development of a marketing strategy for a successful acceptance in the home market. The most success can be gained if a group of professionals representing hardware, broadcast, other media transport, and content providers come together under a single group to fine tune and implement an overall marketing campaign. The lack of a true marketing campaign has resulted in the failure of many new technologies.
Home market defined
The 3D home market is stuck in a vicious cycle, VR is in its early phase, and AR is in the early development phase.
Any home market products must take into account the uses and viewing habits of your target market. In this case, the viewing habits of most demographics in the current home market require viewing content from on the go on portable screens to larger home theaters where the whole family can watch or take in the content. As far as sources of content, new streaming services will be instrumental in accessing content for this wide variety of viewing products. These devices of varying sizes and varying product types such as screens and glasses must be able to handle the same content.
The Failure of 3D Televisions
Most people did not buy 3D televisions. For those that did, very few did not buy for the 3D capabilities. They either don’t know about the technology or they have little to no access to 3D content. They did not have access to 3D content because broadcasters and other transport media are not willing to put the money into such a small market. This brings us back to the end users and brings us back to demand. Demand can drive the market. We will get into this concept later in this paper.
3D Television Availability
When it comes to choosing a 3D television set, the public had many choices from glasses (passive or active) to autostereoscopic sets. Most 3D capable televisions released required glasses. However, today the major television manufacturers have ceased producing 3D capable televisions. Autostereoscopic (better known as glasses-free) televisions provide an alternative for those who are adverse to wearing glasses while watching their favorite shows.
While many of the autostereoscopic displays of the past have lacked clarity and brightness, the introduction of 4k televisions and eye tracking technology provides a viable glasses-free solution for the home. However, these displays are not readily available to the general public. In a recent search, I only found 1 set available on eBay and nothing at the large retailers. I have been able to find a number of 3D sets that require glasses on clearance. In a recent article published in October 2017 on Fact MR website (https://www.factmr.com/report/286/glass-free-hd-3d-display-market), autostereoscopic displays is expected to grow 15% CAGR (Compound Annual Growth Rate) and is projected at 713.2 million in revenue by the end of 2022. This article also states that digital signage is “likely to emerge as the biggest user of glass-free HD 3D display technology with projected revenue of $300 million.
In the end, glasses or no glasses will always have a different set of advantages and disadvantages and will not be a barrier to public acceptance of 3D in the home market. The end user can choose the right technology that fits their desired viewing experience.
The following figure shows the expected growth in 3D television sales in comparison to the actual 3D television sales. Starting in 2011, 3D television sales started to slide. In the initial releases of 4k televisions, most if not all were released with 3D capabilities. This offered some hope and opportunity for 3D in the home market. According to a 2011 TVBEurope article, almost half of all UK households will have 3D capable television within 3 years. Another article in IPTV News dated September 2013, states that by 2017 3D TVs will reach 58% of all TVs sold around the world. In 2012 18% of televisions sold were 3D capable. In Europe, the number of 3D capable televisions was far higher with the US trailing behind. The current state of the 3D market is best described in a CNET article by David Katzmaier posted in Janurary 2017 (https://www.cnet.com/news/shambling-corpse-of-3d-tv-finally-falls-down-dead/) where he declares the death of 3D TV: “The bespectacled zombie lies face down in the dirt, thanks to LG and Sony dropping support from their 2017 TVs. He seemed quite emphatic that users and he never accepted 3D as necessary for home entertainment. A bit melodramatic for my taste; however, he has a point. Acceptance is extremely important to kick things off.
3D TV Sales Projected vs. Actual (Data Source: CNET 2010 for Projected Data and 2012 Digital Trends for Actual Data)
3D was never the main selling point for these televisions. The TVBEurope article says that the surge in 3D capable televisions is attributed to the “unwitting customer.” The key here is to market the 3D feature, educate the consumer as to the 3D experience in the home, and make 3D one of the key sellable features by increasing demand for 3D. This is not a mistake for the television manufacturers to future proof their high end televisions with 3D capability. However, this was a mistake for 3D content providers to not take advantage of this teachable moment and to not take advantage of a ready-made installed base to drive the right types of quality content for an increased home market demand.
70% of 3D TV owners are satisfied with the 3D TV capabilities.
On the plus side, a 2012 study from Parks Associates showed that approximately 70% of 3D TV owners were either satisfied or very satisfied with the 3D capabilities of their televisions. Although this is a small study, this study can be used to plan future and larger studies as to the interests of the current 3D television buying public.
Going Beyond Television Sets
For the home viewing of television shows, sports, and movies, the main driver for content will continue to be the availability and functionality of television sets. However, for convenience, more and more viewers will also depend on other means of watching their favorite events such as tablets and smart phones.
A few have attempted to release 3D capable smart phones. HTC Evo was released in 2011 and did attempt some marketing to the public. However, limited television commercials failed to reach the public with the right message. Most recently, Red released the Hydrogen One in 2018. These were available at both Verizon and AT&T stores and online. These phones were large and bulky with a large price tag. Other than placing the phones in the store with some demo versions and some store signage, very little work was done to educate the general public and create some market demand. Red recently halted this project and the price of the phone was cut in half. ROKIT released two phone versions in 2019. I have heard that this phone has a nice 3D display and bundled extras. I have seen this phone listed on the Walmart.com website but have not seen any in the stores. JS Digitech has been working on 3D capable phones and tablets. I have found their phone screen bright and has excellent 3D viewing. I am looking forward to seeing their products released in the US.
Lack of 3D Content Access a Problem
According to Digital Trends November 2011 article, the 3D home market lacks content. According to an article in 3Dvision-blog dated February 27, 2010, there were a variety of television channels expected including Sky Channel 3D in the UK, BBC, DirectTV, ESPN 3D, Canal+ 3D in France, 3D Pictures in France, and Discovery 3D. Sky channel 3D announced in 2015 that they would drop the 3D channel and the 3D content would only be available on-demand. In 2013 with ESPN and BBC dropping their 3D channels. According to an Associated Press article in USA Today dated September 2012, Byran Burns of ESPN stated that “we were ahead of the curve further than we thought we were.” To date, I am unable to locate any of the 3D channels mentioned above.
China was initially more aggressive when it comes to 3D for the home. As reported by Al Caudullo of 3DGuy.tv after returning from China 3D Expo 2013, China had committed to an aggressive plan for 3D TV with 10 independent 3D channels. He later reported that this plan was scaled back considerably and that the sale of 3D content to this market also slowed considerably with the bulk of content purchased in the 4k 2D format. The scale back of China’s aggressive plan for 3D television channels was later confirmed by Jim Chabin of the International 3D and Advanced Graphics Society with China’s main interest in 3D for the Theatrical market.
This leaves us with only on-demand streaming services. There has been some interest in other 3D streaming services, but there has been no movement on this front.
The 2012 study from Parks Associates showed that current owners of 3D televisions in US broadband households want more 3D content. At the top of their list are movies, TV programs, video games and sports. Current interests of the early adopters of 3D television viewing are important. These interests can be used to expand the demand into the general public. The biggest problem in providing content is the broadcasters and investors. They currently do not see the payout necessary for an investment in this technology.
Desire for More 3D TV Content
Until the broadcast industry sees the payout of offering 3D television, 3D content providers can use Blu-ray, video on demand (VOD), and internet based streaming content. The broadcast industry will not take a chance on 3D until they see enough demand for 3D content. The Blu-ray 3D market has shown growth over the past couple of years with quite a few 3D titles available. According to a 2012 article in Good3DTV, the growth in 3D sales and 3D Blu-ray players was having an impact on overall 3D TV sales growth. The acceptance of 3D television will happen sooner in some parts of the world than others.
According to Ryan Nakashima of the Associated Press in the February 2012 USA Today article, “Avatar was supposed to change everything” and “enthusiastic television executives expected the movie to spur 3D’s transition to American living rooms.” This plan seems to me to be unrealistic expecting a single movie to change buying behavior, especially without any significant demand for 3D in the home and also with only 115,000 American homes “tuned into 3D channels at any one time,” as reported by Nakashima. Joel Peck, S3D – HD-4K Producer and Director at artHouse3D points out, one great movie every 3 years “is not going to do it.” Great 3D made for television content has to be gotten out in front of the general public as soon as possible.
Joel Peck points out for home 3D to succeed “there needs to be great 3D made for TV content but investors won’t invest in the content until the market is already successful.” There is a “catch 22 since the market needs great content but content won’t be funded until the investors see a successful market.” Investors want to see great 3D content in order to invest in great 3D content. However, without investors, content providers are limited in the funds (commonly their own funds) necessary to produce great content. He goes on to state that “bad or even mediocre content is this industry’s worst enemy” and “good, or better yet, great content” is this industry’s greatest friend.
Virtual Reality Market
Virtual reality comes in many different flavors from desktop VR to VR goggles. VR has a tremendous advantage for those that want to experiment with the viewing experience over other advanced graphics when it comes to price. Cardboard models which can be used with smartphones start at less than $2. I have seen many other models that can be used with your smartphone at most retail outlets for around $10. Other models such as the Samsung Gear VR can be found for around $130 and require a powerful PC or gaming console.
According to Statistica (https://www.statista.com/statistics/426469/active-virtual-reality-users-worldwide/), VR was expected “to grow at an extraordinary rate. According to their numbers, in 2014, there was only 0.2 million active users classified as “Innovators and Hardcore Gamers.” 2017 was expected to come in at 20 million active users and 2018 was expected at 171 million active users. Also according to Statistica (https://www.statista.com/statistics/591181/global-augmented-virtual-reality-market-size/), the current market size is approximately $11.4 billion and was expected to grow to $215 billion worldwide. According to VRscout (https://vrscout.com/news/forecast-vr-market-162-billion-2020/#), “most revenue through 2020 will come from the US.” These expectations proved to be overstated. This sounds a bit like the history of 3D. However, I am starting to see mainstream advertising for VR in the gaming industry and in particular from PS-4.
Is VR just another fad destined to be declared dead by industry experts due to lack of demand and content? According to Daniel Van Boom’s CNET article in November 2017 (https://www.cnet.com/news/vr-virtual-reality-future-next-big-thing/), he was originally excited about the future of VR; however, as of October, he was pessimistic, and then after talking with some industry experts, he is bordering on skeptical but open to a possible future “sort of”.
A Forbes article by Lucas Matney dated January 6, 2020 states that there is “still lots of good news” on the VR front. He points out that Oculas Quest “was a standout VR announcement at CES 2020 with “smaller and lighter headset designs and expanded field of view.” Additionally, he points out that Sony “had sold 5 million PS VR units.” These were only released a little over three years ago.
The Home Gaming Market
The home gaming market can be divided into games for 3D and Virtual Reality. Both markets are lacking both available content and demand to help drive the technology toward mass adoption.
3D Gaming Market
In the 3D gaming market, there are very few game choices. Nintendo’s 3DS leads the handheld market. After the 3DS’s first year and as reported by Engadget in March of 2012, approximately 4.5 million devices were sold which surpassed its sales figures of the previous DS models. In its first year over 100 3D games were released. For large format gaming consoles, both Xbox and PS3 have 3D capabilities. According to 3D Tested, there are currently over 122 games available for the PS3, and Xbox has only 46 games currently available. When visiting a local store, I found little change from a couple years ago. I found only a few PS3 3D titles and no Xbox titles available in 3D.
VR Gaming Market
In the VR gaming market, games can be divided into games for smartphones, PCs, and gaming platforms. I am seeing a few games available for the PC and include the most popular headsets such as Oculus Rift and HTC Vive. There is also a few games available for smartphones where the top games are free and many include multiplayer action. PlayStation 4 has over 100 games available. Even Walmart has the PlayStation VR bundles available online; however, not in the stores. As mentioned in the previous section. Sony has sold 5 million PS VR units in a little more than three years.
Public Perception is always a challenge
Challenge for 3D Content and Display Providers
According to a 2012 CNET article, which quoted a Nielsen study, 57 percent did not want to wear 3D glasses and 90% felt that watching 3D would interfere with other tasks they perform while watching TV. These studies are useful in showing the public’s current perceptions; however, they are flawed since the vast majority of people have not experienced 3D on the small screen. Additional studies are needed to gauge the public acceptance based on the public’s experience. I will cover this in more detail in the “Overcoming Perceptions” section. Until that time, perception is today’s reality. Negative public perceptions can be reduced if not altogether eliminated through the right combination of the products, public education, and managing expectations.
Public Perception a Major Obstacle
Many also believe that watching 3D for extended periods can cause eye fatigue, headaches, and even harm the viewer’s eyesight. I have also seen press reports that state that many are stereoscopically impaired. Depending on the report, these numbers range from 10 to 20 percent. Much of these claims have little basis in fact. Much of the problems with eye fatigue, headaches, and other discomforts can be corrected with the proper use of the 3D effects. These effects should not be discounted. Proper research with experts in the Ophthalmological field can help either discount the claims or help us make corrections to the 3D products and content. This would help 3D reach the widest possible audience with little to no adverse effects. Additionally, for those who suffer from headaches, the amount of 3D can be adjusted at the television for the best possible comfort.
Public Perception for VR?
I am not sure what the public perception is for VR at this early stage. From my personal experience from those that I speak with outside of the advanced graphics industry, most have passed by the cheap headsets in the store, but have not stopped to even check it out (except for my youngest daughter, she wants one).
Taking lessons from the perception of 3D viewing such as:
- Wearing goofy glasses – If you think that the glasses were goofy, how about those goofy goggles. I am actually not hearing about the goofy goggles, at least not yet.
- Watching causes eye fatigue – Again this is something I have not heard yet; however, this is something to watch out for especially when creating content and for extended use applications.
- Headaches and discomfort – In the past year, I saw a local article reviewing VR which stated how great the experience was except you might get nauseous, but it would be worth it.
- Interferes with performing other tasks while viewing – Wearing goggles would definitely interfere with other tasks. I wouldn’t stand next to a cliff while wearing VR goggles. It seems that it would also be socially isolating from those around you.
Applying the Right Marketing Techniques
Start with one segment and let each success build onto the next target.
Stubbornly pushing 3D into the market has proven to be extremely difficult if not impossible. This may be the same for other xR technologies. A demand generation method would develop an interest in 3D or other xR technologies that would result in a market pull as opposed to a market push. Our job is to convince the public to accept 3D as a new technology that provides a better user experience than the older 2D or flat technology. The market pull technique will provide the proof necessary to convince broadcasters and other media transport suppliers that there is a market available and money to be made. This will avoid the halfhearted attempts of the past which failed miserably. Additionally, the market pull technique will also provide the incentive for manufacturers and developers to invest in the right hardware and content to maintain the target market interest.
The home market is a complex market and includes: televisions, gaming, phones, tablets, and cameras. We are not going to be able to develop a wholesale marketing plan to instantaneously move products from early adopter to the mainstream. This is going to take a targeted approach. I would use hints from the book “Crossing the Chasm” by Geoffrey A. Moore by focusing on one customer group at a time and using that group as the starting point for marketing to the next group. With each group, the content must be finely crafted for the correct experience and the messaging finally crafted for the right user perception.
They key to reaching any target market is to learn as much about each person in the buy decision as possible in order to reach them on a personal level. Note that I said each person and not companies or market. We are talking to individuals who make the buy decision. We should spark this relatively untapped tool with messages that invoke their passions. In order to invoke their passions, we must open a dialogue with individuals.
The biggest mistake marketers make is to communicate to the desired market and not to the individuals.
Finding the Right Starting Point
To start this approach, the right target or niche must be selected with the greatest chance for success: a segment with higher disposable income that is more likely to accept a new technology. Once acceptance is obtained in this market, find a closely related segment and build on this success. As this builds, you will find that your reach will start getting larger and larger. This technique creates a bandwagon effect in which enough momentum builds for each technology to move into the mainstream. To select the right market segments, it is going to take a group analyzing the entire market numbers to have the best chance of being right. Start out by looking at an analysis of who is currently buying and who is not. Also look at an analysis of who is currently buying content and the type of content being purchased. Ask the question: Can we build onto the current market?
With each of the target markets, we must target the end consumer with a demand generation program.
In order to properly position in the market, we must first understand one key point that will surely meet with resistance: The target market does not need the technology. Yes I said it. In fact no visual market needs 3D, VR, or AR: not professional computers, not scientific, not digital signage. In fact, no one needs ultra-high definition, no one needs high definition, no one needs color, and no one needs sound. We need to get away from thinking about the product and start thinking about the customer’s true needs. A marketing professor once told me that a drill manufacturer’s customers don’t need a better drill, they need a hole. So our target market does not need 3D, VR, or AR, they need a different or better viewing experience. Each technology adds another tool to aid in the target users viewing experience and another tool for the content developer to tell their story. It must be an improvement to the current viewing experience and must aid in the telling of your story and not take it over. This cannot be said enough times: The advantage to presenting in each technology is that it adds to the viewer’s experience.
In analyzing the target market, we will start with the product positioning. Product positioning is the statement that identifies and defines the product brand. For these products, we are obviously not going with the “me too” approach. We are going to differentiate the experience from the plain 2D experience.
When analyzing the positioning of each technology, we must look at the target customer and the viewing experience each gives the viewer. There has been quite a bit of media on the different advanced graphics: 3D (stereoscopic), Virtual Reality (VR), Augmented Reality (AR), and Mixed Reality (MR). Each offers a different visual experience and a different amount of immersive experience for the end user.
As I have mentioned before, keep in mind through this whole process that we are not selling the technology. We are selling the “Experience.” We also need to differentiate this experience from the current 2D technologies that most of us has grown used to using. For example, as Nicholas Routhier, president of Mindtrick Innovations, has pointed out to me: 3D televisions should not have been positioned as just another television with an added feature of 3D viewing. The experience should have been better differentiated by selling 3D home theaters.
In order to capture all of the attributes of a positioning statement, I always start with the following outline:
- For (target customer – not market. We need to make our position personal.)
- Who (statement of need or opportunity) – This would be something like, “who needs a better viewing experience” or “who needs connection or immersion into the story.”
- The (product or service name) – keep away from naming the product based on current naming. Use a name that differentiates the experience from that of the current products.
- is a (product category or market segment –display, content)
- that (statement of key benefit – a compelling reason to buy – a compelling reason to change the status quo),
- Unlike (primary competitive product or alternative – 2D alternative),
- our product (statement of primary differentiation – in other words, what does the target customer get from the product that they do not get from 2D).
This will form the basis for the messaging and value proposition. This messaging and value proposition will then be consistently used for all advertising, media, PR, social media, web sites, and social media. Note that we are not selling 3D, VR, or AR. We are selling the experience. It is another choice or enhancement to the viewing experience.
As you look at each market segment, you will develop unified messaging specific to that segment and provide the right proof points that will make you messaging convincing.
Developing Unified Messaging
Keep in mind that unlike the early marketing days, we as marketers are not in control of our messaging. The target audience is in charge. We need to talk with them and not at them. In fact, we should recognize that our target customers can produce more messages than we could ever create. We should engage in a campaign that not only creates a compelling story, but also creates a dialogue with the end users. This will spark this relatively untapped tool with messages that invoke their passions. Additionally, be ready to change at any given moment. If we properly open up a dialog with our campaigns, we will learn as much from our target customers as they will from our campaign.
The strategy required for the different markets must go beyond seizing the target users’ attention with constant messaging, but this strategy must also sustain their attention. In order to sustain this attention, we need a complete understanding of the target market’s needs importance, interests, emotional appeal, badge value, and risks or worries. The biggest mistake that can be made here is to either trivialize or ignore any of these points.
Keep in mind this is not a competition between 3D and 2D or even between two opposing new technologies. In fact, as Fabien Remblier points out in his November 2013 article “Make 3D Love, Not 4K War,” “4k opposition does not exist, …, because 3D and 4K are two totally different things.” Let’s expand that 3D, VR, and AR are different and have different experiences and should be positioned differently. He continues by pointing out “where 3D brings a new experience for the Viewer, 4K is finally only an improvement of HD.” He also points out that with both 3D and 4k combined we “need to instead look at the prospects that their combination makes for professionals and ultimately for the spectators.”
When communicating with your target customers, make sure your messages have value and significance. Inspire your customers to participate and most importantly inspire them to spread the word. The last thing you want to do is to add to the noise. This will disengage your target customers.
Another important point when creating your marketing content, make sure you monitor the results and conversation, react quickly, and adjust your campaign as needed. Don’t let your customers feel like you are not listening. Keep you main messages succinct. Each message will have proof points that will be used once your audience is engaged.
The right approach can speed the acceptance of any viewing technology as the preferred viewing experience for the given user experience.
Sustaining the Target Users’ Attention
The strategy required for the different markets must go beyond seizing the target users’ attention with constant messaging and must also sustain their attention. In order to sustain this attention, we need a complete understanding of the target market’s needs importance, interests, emotional appeal, badge value, and risks or worries. The biggest mistake that can be made here is to either trivialize or ignore any of these points. Let’s make use of the current marketing content channels such as blogs, social media, and standard media. Only this time, let’s stop convincing each other. Let’s target these channels toward our defined target market.
Public perception is the largest hurdle. According to a 2012 CNET article, which quoted a Nielsen study, 57 percent did not want to wear 3D glasses and 90% felt that watching 3D would interfere with other tasks they perform while watching TV. Many of these perceptions are not going to change with VR or AR. Negative public perceptions can be reduced if not altogether eliminated through the right combination of the products, public education, and managing expectations. Over hyping any technology can hurt acceptance by either setting expectations too high that cannot be delivered or the obvious hype that looks way too good to be true.
Most of the public perception is not based on actual experience. It is based on what they heard in the press or what they anticipate. I recently spoke with a real technical friend who I consider very intelligent. When I brought up 3D television for the home, he immediately snapped back: “I am not wearing those darn glasses.” This is the same person that years ago had the same opinion of 3D movies. He currently goes to and enjoys 3D movies in the theater.
Current perceptions can be changed.
A method is needed to gauge the actual acceptance versus perceived acceptance. Additional marketing research is required to find out the reasons for these perceptions. Additionally, focus groups in different geographic areas using different 3technologies and content can be very useful to identify what is real and what is perceived. Once we understand what is real and what is perceived, an education program targeted to your market must follow. Use press coverage, social media, roadshows, and public events. Place each technology in front of the public in as many venues targeting the general public as possible. Also let the public know that the technology is there, or even better, start out with teasers before it is there to peak public curiosity. Use every possible opportunity to get the word out to the public. By the way, using professional groups only educates the technology professionals. We want to educate the public. We need to get the public used to viewing and understand how the increased viewing experience adds to the enjoyment of the story.
Start this process with your initial target market. Your target market may be willing to accept glasses or even the current state of autostereoscopic displays. This may give more time for the advancement of the technology as we move forward from the initial target markets to the next.
Keep in mind the work it took in the early adoption of HDTV in 1989. Very few users were equipped with HD and there was very little content available. When I was purchasing my first HDTV, I was advised to not spend the money on HD. Times have changed. (By the way, I did not listen. I am pretty stubborn.) The key is going to be educating the public on each technology, creating a market acceptance and a market demand.
Overcoming Negative Press
In recent years, there was an overabundance of negative press proclaiming the death of 3D. Additionally, most press releases proclaiming the opposite have fallen on deaf ears. Recently, press on 3D has fallen off considerably with 3D printing press releases raging on. Has the negative press successfully predicted the demise of 3D? No, the detractors of 3D have either figured that they won and 3D is dead or they simply got bored with the discussion on a subject that will never amount to much. All of this negative press proclaiming the death of 3D has significantly impacted the market. There has also been doom and gloom predictions for VR due to its initial slow growth. Many experts feel that any attempt to resurrect the discussion will bring on the onslaught of negativity. One PR expert once told me that if you don’t like the conversation, either change the conversation and story or find someone else to talk with. Let’s do both.
Let’s change the conversation. Let’s talk about advances in the user experience. Let’s talk about what we have learned about the technology and where it is going. Do not get into an argument with someone who is not going to change their mind. Let’s change who we are talking with. Let’s use other press, other editors, and other channels, such as blogs and social media, to get out our message. Another method would be to use reverse SEO. Put out as many messages, articles, and press releases with positive messages targeted to the public that will in turn push down the bad press in the search engine listings.
When writing press releases, they must be written to the target audience, and not just posted in the hopes that someone somewhere picks up the post. Most press releases today have product centric titles and text. Additionally, they are posted on the top press release submission websites. Instead of just posting on press release website, prep specific editors or writers, send the release and then follow up with the editor or writer.
When writing a press release, the target audience is the press for that one segment that you are trying to reach. Select the right press and editors that match your current target market. A press release targeted for a broad market will be far less powerful. If you are targeting multiple media for multiple markets, write multiple press releases.
Start with the press for that one segment and let the message talk directly to that one segment.
The press release title along with the accompanying text must be about a subject that attracts the editor or editors that you are interested in attracting. Unless these editors are sitting at their desk just waiting for your specific product, a product specific title will not attract much attention. Along with the press release document, develop a ‘frequently asked questions’ document (FAQ). Anticipate any questions or reactions that you will need to respond to. Keep this document as complete as possible and include both questions that you would love to answer and those that you would dread answering. Additionally, call the editors both before and after release of the press release. Before you send out the release, let them know that something new and of interest is coming. Give them just enough to peak their interest. Once you release or post the document, give them a call again. This is not the time to be shy. Keep the conversation about their area of interest and what your product does for this area of interest.
For a final point, locate editors who are more likely to listen to what you have to say. In my years of working with different press, I have found that editors and bloggers fall into three categories: 1) ones that listen to what you have to say in order to respond, 2) ones that don’t listen at all – either interrupt or politely wait until it is their turn to talk, and finally 3) listen with the intent to understand. It is the third group that you want to talk to. The first two groups will miraculously change their story once 3D bashing goes out of fashion. The third, more friendly and open group, are the ones that need to be educated as to what good 3D is, what bad 3D is, and how 3D enhances the user experience. There are a few groups that can help in this education such as the International 3D Society or UP3D in Europe. An invite to one of their conference can go a long way in educating the press.
It is not too late to take advantage of the technology and content coming together. The right approach can speed the acceptance of 3D, VR and AR as the preferred viewing experiences. An industry-wide and unified demand generation program, with unified messaging, is needed. Even though the name “3D” now represents gimmicky, faddish, uncomfortable, and goofy glasses, a unified program can redefine “3D” as part of the story and an improved viewing experience with many useful applications wherever visual information is displayed. This attitude can be eliminated for VR and AR at this early stage.
Get the word out with a demand generation program. The old opinion that we have all fallen for “3D is so cool, VR is cool, or AR is cool, everyone will be drawn to it” does not work. There is much too much bad press and negative perceptions for that to ever work for 3D and the fad label for VR and AR will not be eliminated by this approach.
The lack of any true marketing effort has failed the 3D home market and will make it more difficult to move forward. Opportunities, such as an installed base of 4k televisions equipped with 3D capabilities, have gone away. Can this be turned around? Can autostereoscopic televisions provide a useable alternative? Let’s not let another missed opportunity go by as was done with the initial 3D 4k televisions. It is not too late and it is definitely not too late for the VR and AR markets. We just need to convince the general public that the Experience is worth it.