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The top 10 immersive campaigns to learn from

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Photo of tablet showing lzard image from Chevron experience

This morning, during my communications campaign course at the University of Oregon, a student asked me why we research best practices and try to find examples of successful campaigns that are relevant to our client.

It was a great question.

My answer to her also sums up why you should care about this article. Finding examples of campaigns that can be evaluated based upon performance metrics can be a great way to reduce the risk and anxiety around trying innovative tactics. “Imitate until you can innovate” isn’t a bad mantra and there’s no shame in copying something that has worked. 

A balance between leveraging previous success and pioneering new tactics

Of course, solely relying on previous campaign data to select your tactics can be an innovation killer — so it’s important to find a balance between leveraging previous campaign examples and pioneering new technology and tactics. You may not find examples on this list that are directly relevant to your work, however I hope you do find inspiration for innovative ways to engage and communicate with your audiences. 

These ten examples were sourced from my XR (extended reality) students, XR colleagues, XR faculty at the University of Oregon’s Strategic Communications immersive media program and my own personal research and work. I hope they will help demonstrate effective uses of immersive technologies to engage with and connect users around the globe. If you’re looking for an active group of XR communicators, try joining my monthly XR Pub Crawl, where we explore online worlds and immersive technologies used for marketing and communications. Previous pub crawls can be found on Twitch.tv/lisapeyton and our upcoming event can be found on LinkedIn

Click on the links below each example to immerse yourself in the experience.

1. Breonna’s Garden

Why I like it. The Breonna’s Garden app is a perfect example of the magic that can come of a mixed reality experience. The virtual, living memorial for Breonna Taylor leverages many different types of 3D assets, 2D video and augmented reality to allow users to pay tribute to and celebrate Breonna’s life. The app features video footage of Breonna and her family along with a 3D hologram of Breonna’s sister and a 3D rendering of Breonna herself. 

The app brings to life a real-world garden and allows anyone, anywhere to join in the community, leave their own personal message and step into a wonderous, virtual flower garden in their own home. 

Technology used. AR, 2D video, holograms, and 3D avatar.

Immerse yourselves. https://breonnasgarden.com/

Read next: 10 rules for successful metaverse marketing

2. Gatorade’s “Beat the Blitz”

Why I like it. “Beat the Blitz” uses high-end virtual reality to simulate what it feels like when a player gets dehydrated. It combines gamification, headset-based, immersive VR, and a 3D hologram of Peyton Manning to simulate getting dehydrated on the field and its impact on performance. Part educational tool and part VR game, Gatorade has done an outstanding job of building an experience not about the product but about their grand gift – hydration. They also crafted this experience with their target audience in-mind, recruiting an industry icon and using actual arm movement to simulate skills that players can relate to. 

Technology used. Head-set VR, 3D virtual content, holograms

Immerse yourselves. https://store.steampowered.com/app/748420/Beat_the_Blitz/

3. 2022 Oscars 5G portal

Why I like it. Streaming behind-the-scenes footage from the Oscars is nothing new, but this year Verizon used some innovative targeting techniques to create serious FOMO among those not yet armed with 5G. The live-streaming, immersive red-carpet experience used Verizon 5G to provide users access to several different 360-degree cameras placed on or around the red carpet. Viewers could choose the camera view they were interested in and get a real-time, interactive view of all the action. 

Verizon customers Googling the “Oscars” were strategically targeted to experience the AR portal through a web-based link, however if the link was shared with someone who didn’t have 5G – the experience wouldn’t provide both audio and video, creating a sense of missing out.  Wanting to make sure you can keep up with the latest online conversations about celebrities might just be a good enough reason to upgrade your phone. Or so Verizon hopes is the case. 

Technology used. Web-based AR, 360-degree live-streaming video

Immerse yourselves. https://blog.insta360.com/oscars-2022-360-live-streaming-from-the-red-carpet-backstage-more/

4. Pepsi’s The Weeknd Super Bowl half-time experience

Why I like it. Pepsi partnered with The Weeknd to create an easy-to-use, AR portal that could be accessed using a simple QR code — no download required. The seamless experience from soda can or digital signage to the AR portal made this experience a true touchdown. The portal allowed the user to enter an immersive world of exclusive The Weeknd video clips and experience their halftime performance via 360-degree video filmed from the front row. The interactivity and immersion of walking into an AR portal helped to improve upon the traditional 2D halftime show, in my opinion. 

Technology used. Web-based AR, 360-degree video, QR code

Immerse yourselves. https://www.8thwall.com/aircards/pepsi-halftime

5. Intel’s Microsoft Build AR experience

Why I like it. One of the few B2B examples on my list, Microsoft and Intel partnered to create a fun and playful AR experience for their developer audience. I was fortunate enough to work on this project, full disclaimer, so I’m a bit biased but also had an insider’s view of the project from start to finish. 

The biggest win for this campaign was piloting a mobile-based technology like AR for what has in the past been solely focused on desktop assets like blog posts, solution briefs and YouTube tutorials. These more traditional assets are extremely important when engaging with coders and developers who are focused on business solutions, however building awareness for these solutions doesn’t have to be ho-hum. Developers (in fact all of us!) love to be hands-on and prefer interactive experiences where they can help control and interact with the story. AR allows this type of interactivity and immersion along with helping to simulate complex, technical solutions. 

Technology used. Web-based AR, 3D scalable content, QR code

Immerse yourselves. https://build.rpr.to/

6. Chevron

Why I like it. The second B2B campaign on this list may surprise you, as it was built by a more traditional brand — Chevron. Chevron has been at the forefront of using immersive technology to engage its high-stake audiences like policy makers, Chevron executives, partners, and customers. One of the brands first attempts at immersive storytelling was their VR experience simulating life onboard an oil rig. The high-end, headset enabled experience used 360-degree video, 3D content and spatial audio to recreate the working conditions of one of the most dangerous places on earth. The experience rolled out to Chevron rig employees’ friends and families, allowing them to see where their loved ones worked for the first time. 

On the heels of this experience, Chevron crafted an AR campaign to be featured at the World Oil and Gas Conference in Washington, DC. Once again, they wanted to leverage innovative storytelling techniques to engage conference attendees in new ways. Instead of using VR, which would force attendees to wear a headset, they opted to use iPad Pros to display AR digital content. The experience featured their newest facility on an isolated island and told the story of conservation and innovation within the oil and gas industry. The experience also featured several rare wildlife species only found on the island, brought to life through animated AR, 3D content. 

Photo by Lisa Peyton.

Technology used. VR, AR, 360-degree video, animated 3D content

Immerse yourselves. https://martech.org/chevron-storytelling-uses-purposeful-immersive-experiences-to-engage-stakeholders/

7. The New York Times’ AR mask experience

Why I like it. The Times is no stranger to immersive journalism, and they have been at the forefront of leveraging AR and VR for education. The mask experience does an excellent job of educating users on why masks work. By taking the viewer inside the fibers that create the masks materials and simulating the activities of Covid molecules, it becomes apparent how masks trap and block the virus.

This is a great example of taking a user someplace they could never go in real life and visualizing something they could never see with the naked eye. 

Technology used. AR, 3D content

Immerse yourselves. https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2020/10/30/science/wear-mask-covid-particles-ul.html

8. Jaguar and Gorillaz

Why I like it. Jaguar crafted a unique, immersive experience for one of their hardest to reach target audiences – top engineering talent. As many companies are moving toward becoming technology providers finding employees who can develop digital platforms and help digitize services has become challenging. To reach this group, Jaguar partnered with the popular band, Gorillaz, to craft a fully immersive world where coders and developers could participate in a challenge that would fast-track the most talented developers into Jaguar’s talent pool. 

Using the Gorillaz already popular mixed-reality app meant the campaign had a built-in captive audience and allowed Jaguar to focus on crafting a mind-blowing experience instead of acquiring new users. Since this campaign launched, Jaguar has continued to use innovative tactics to build an ongoing relationship with developers as they have recently announced a new coders academy that builds upon the initial approach of this campaign. 

Technology used. Mixed-reality, alternate reality game, influencer, and celebrity endorsements

Immerse yourselves. https://media.jaguar.com/news/2017/06/jaguar-land-rover-and-gorillaz-seek-new-engineering-talent-alternate-reality?q=&start=0&brand=jaguar

9. Ally Bank AR Monopoly

Why I like it. This fun and engaging campaign brought together several immersive technologies and a popular game that was sure to spark some nostalgia in its target audience. Ally Bank was hoping to get new customers and raise brand awareness in several key markets, so they crafted an AR-based scavenger hunt. 

Placing signs with the campaign QR code around popular urban locations, users could scan the code to experience entertaining AR content and enter to win cash prizes. Publicity campaigns like the one shown above that featured a real-life Mr. Monopoly helped to drive the buzz around the contest and build awareness among the target audience. 

Leveraging a game that is all about money helped to make this campaign feel in keeping with Ally Bank while at the same time evoking a sense of fun and taking users back to their childhood. While these types of scavenger hunts are becoming more popular, Ally was among one of the first to use this type of experience to try and promote business services. 

Technology used. QR codes, AR

Immerse yourselves. https://www.8thwall.com/blog/post/52535533666/ally-bank-transforms-cities-into-a-live-monopoly-game

10. The Stanford ocean acidification experience

Why I like it. Stanford needed a way to promote its latest research findings and make people care about preserving the planet. Realizing that children are our future, they built a VR game that helped to engage younger audiences and educate them on the plight of our planet. 

The experience is built using headset enabled VR and a gaming framework that uses game mechanics to incite users to go on a journey under the sea. Instead of a snooze-worthy, education video, Stanford opted to create a game that would use various types of tactile, strategic, and sensory immersion to help keep users engaged along with improving content recall. They understood you learn better when your brain is activated by playing instead of reading. This fan-created video demonstrates what it’s like to “play” this educational game and proves they are engaging a younger audience. 

Technology used. Game mechanics, VR

Immerse yourselves. https://stanfordvr.com/soae/


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Opinions expressed in this article are those of the guest author and not necessarily MarTech. Staff authors are listed here.


About The Author

Lisa Peyton is an immersive media strategist and media psychologist focusing on the user engagement and marketing applications of new technologies.

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Local Pack Header Specificity Vanishes while Local Packs Downtrend

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9 Local Search Developments You Need to Know About from Q3 2022

The author’s views are entirely his or her own (excluding the unlikely event of hypnosis) and may not always reflect the views of Moz.

In July of this year, Dr. Peter J. Meyers and I published a report analyzing an element of Google’s local results we termed “local pack headers”. About a month after publication, members of the local SEO community, like Colan Nielsen, began noticing that the extraordinary diversity of headings we had captured had suddenly diminished:

Today, I’m doing a quick follow-up to the manual portion of our earlier study in an effort to quantify and illustrate this abrupt alteration.

A total sea change in local pack headers

Between July and November of 2022, 83% of our previously-queried local pack headers underwent a complete transformation of nomenclature. Only 17% of the local pack headers were still worded the same way in autumn as they had been in the summertime. Here is a small set of examples:

In our manual analysis of 60 queries in July, we encountered 40 unique local pack headers – a tremendous variety. Now, all specificity is gone. For all of our queries, headings have been reduced to just 3 types: in-store availability, places, and businesses.

Entity relationships remain mysterious

What hasn’t changed is my sense that the logic underpinning which businesses receive which local pack header remains rather odd. In the original study, we noted the mystery of why a query like “karate” fell under the heading of “martial arts school” but a query for “tai chi” got a unique “tai chi heading”, or why “adopt dog” results were headed “animal rescue services” but “adopt bunny” got a pack labeled “adopt bunny”. The curious entity relationships continue on, even in this new, genericized local pack header scenario. For example, why is my search for “tacos” (which formerly brought up a pack labeled “Mexican restaurants”, now labeled this:

But my search for “oil change” gets this header:

Is there something about a Mexican restaurant that makes it more of a “place” and an oil change spot that makes it more of a “business”? I don’t follow the logic. Meanwhile, why are service area businesses, as shown in my search for “high weed mowing” being labeled “places”?

Surely high weed mowing is not a place…unless it is a philosophical one. Yet I saw many SABs labeled this way instead of as “businesses”, which would seem a more rational label, given Google’s historic distinction between physical premises and go-to-client models. There are many instances like this of the labeling not making much horse sense, and with the new absence of more specific wording, it feels like local pack headers are likely to convey less meaning and be more easily overlooked now.

Why has Google done this and does it matter to your local search marketing?

Clearly, Google decided to streamline their classifications. There may be more than three total local pack header types, but I have yet to see them. Hotel packs continue to have their own headings, but they have always been a different animal:

In general, Google experiments with whatever they think will move users about within their system, and perhaps they felt the varied local pack headers were more of a distraction than an aid to interactivity with the local packs. We can’t know for sure, nor can we say how long this change will remain in place, because Google could bring back the diverse headings the day after I publish this column!

As to whether this matters to your local search campaigns, unfortunately, the generic headers do obscure former clues to the mind of Google that might have been useful in your SEO. I previously suggested that local businesses might want to incorporate the varied local pack terms into the optimization of the website tags and text, but in the new scenario, it is likely to be pointless to optimize anything for “places”, “businesses”, or “in-store availability”. It’s a given that your company is some kind of place or business if you’re creating a Google Business Profile for it. And, your best bet for featuring that you carry certain products is to publish them on your listing and consider whether you want to opt into programs like Pointy.

In sum, this change is not a huge deal, but I’m a bit sorry to see the little clues of the diversified headers vanish from sight. Meanwhile, there’s another local pack trend going on right now that you should definitely be paying attention to…

A precipitous drop in overall local pack presence

In our original study, Google did not return a local pack for 18% of our manual July queries. By November, the picture had significantly changed. A startling 42% of our queries suddenly no longer displayed a local pack. This is right in line with Andrew Shotland’s documentation of a 42.3% drop from peak local pack display between August and October. Mozcast, pictured above, captured a drop from 39.6% of queries returning local packs on October 24th to just 25.1% on October 25th. The number has remained in the low-to-mid 20s in the ensuing weeks. It’s enough of a downward slope to give one pause.

Because I’m convinced of the need for economic localism as critical to healing the climate and society, I would personally like Google to return local packs for all commercial queries so that searchers can always see the nearest resource for purchasing whatever they need, but if Google is reducing the number of queries for which they deliver local results, I have to try to understand their thinking.

To do that, I have to remember that the presence of a local pack is a signal that Google believes a query has a local intent. Likely, they often get this right, but I can think of times when a local result has appeared for a search term that doesn’t seem to me to be obviously, inherently local. For example, in the study Dr. Pete and I conducted, we saw Google not just returning a local pack for the keyword “pickles” but even giving it its own local pack header:

If I search for pickles, am I definitely looking for pickles near me, or could I be looking for recipes, articles about the nutritional value of pickles, the history of pickles, something else? How high is Google’s confidence that vague searches like these should be fulfilled with a local result?

After looking at a number of searches like these in the context of intent, my current thinking is this: for some reason unknown to us, Google is dialing back presumed local intent. Ever since Google made the user the centroid of search and began showing us nearby results almost by default for countless queries, we users became trained not to have to add many (or any) modifiers to our search language to prompt Google to lay out our local options for us. We could be quite lazy in our searches and still get local results.

In the new context of a reduced number of searches generating local packs, though, we will have to rehabituate ourselves to writing more detailed queries to get to what we want if Google no longer thinks our simple search for “pickles” implies “pickles near me”. I almost get the feeling that Google wants us to start being more specific again because its confidence level about what constitutes a local search has suffered some kind of unknown challenge.

It’s also worth throwing into our thinking what our friends over at NearMedia.co have pointed out:

“The Local Pack’s future is unclear. EU’s no “self-preferencing” DMA takes effect in 2023. The pending AICOA has a similar language.”

It could be that Google’s confidence is being shaken in a variety of ways, including by regulatory rulings, and local SEOs should always expect change. For now, though, local businesses may be experiencing some drop in their local pack traffic and CTR. On the other hand, if Google is getting it right, there may be no significant loss. If your business was formerly showing up in a local pack for a query that didn’t actually have a local intent, you likely weren’t getting those clicks anyway because a local result wasn’t what the searcher was looking for to begin with.

That being said, I am seeing examples in which I feel Google is definitely getting it wrong. For instance, my former searches for articles of furniture all brought up local packs with headings like “accent chairs” or “lamps”. Now, Google is returning no local pack for some of these searches and is instead plugging an enormous display of remote, corporate shopping options. There are still furniture stores near me, but Google is now hiding them, and that disappoints me greatly:

So here’s today’s word to the wise: keep working on the organic optimization of your website and the publication of helpful content. Both will underpin your key local pack rankings, and as we learned from our recent large-scale local business review survey, 51% of consumers are going to end up on your site as their next step after reading reviews on your listings. 2023 will be a good year to invest in the warm and inclusive welcome your site is offering people, and the investment will also stand you in good stead however local pack elements like headers, or even local packs, themselves, wax and wane.



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