The Rise Of A Whole New Marketing World: Virtual Atoms and Virtual Media
Virtual Atoms are the next big thing in marketing, and here's how they're going to revolutionise the way you connect with your customers.
Our forte at Because has always been creative tech. For as long as I can remember we’ve had the latest and greatest gadgets in our offices with a bunch of curious problem solvers crowded around them thinking of nifty ways they could incorporate them into their next campaign. Thanks to our talented team of in-house techies, coders and developers, we’ve developed all the most potent next-gen technologies for our digital toolbox, and have been first-to-market with most of them from bespoke virtual reality racing games and custom worlds in Minecraft to drone races keeping visitors entertained at big B2B expos.
We would never call ourselves early adopters, although I guess that’s exactly what we are, it’s more that we have a genuine passion for the next big (or micro) thing, and how that ‘thing’ can help us make real connections in an ever-increasing digital world. Yes, the balance is everything.
A few years ago, we started to talk about the possibilities of a little something (or should I say ‘somethings’) called Virtual Atoms. Back then, although we had realised and were excited by the opportunities they would present, it was all just theory. But last year some very brave Because clients (CUB in Australia and Temenos in Singapore) got onboard with our theory, and we turned Virtual Atoms (VA) into a very successful reality for their brands. Enter 2021, and we’re about to kick off a number of really exciting new VA campaigns for more global clients (watch this space!).
So, what are these virtual somethings that we’re so excited about? That’s, just the thing. Because they truly can be anything!
Virtual Atoms exist as a form of virtual media on a ground-breaking new platform that allows the distribution of infinite digital tokens virtually. These smart digital assets integrate AR, geolocation, Artificial Intelligence, blockchain, 5G connectivity, and gamification into one unique little pixel product. They offer value in the real world, but can’t be replicated or pirated, and they enable brands to virtually engage millions of potential customers on a one-to-one basis, and without any direct human contact. And the best part: they’re incredibly flexible, at a moment’s notice you can change the token to be anything you want it to be - your ATL campaign, a competition, a money-off coupon or free sample, a treasure hunt, and so the list goes on...
Virtual Atoms can be designed in almost any way, as moving CGI or static digital elements, and can be programmed to do just about anything you want. Customers can collect them in the virtual world by ‘grabbing’ them in camera AR or map view, kind of like you see with Pokemon Go or our Temenos campaign. They’re stored in the user’s digital inventory, but they can be sent, shared, or redeemed for real-life rewards like our CUB – for the Love of your Local campaign. You can assign them any value, from pennies through to a million pounds, or exclusive access to events or experiences. The only limit here? Your imagination.
From delivering your advertising campaign direct to people in their homes, to revolutionising sampling and couponing at events, through to driving reach, recommendation or recruitment via friend-get-friend techniques; the diversity of VA's will provide plenty of digital and real-world benefit to your marketing plan. Here are just six of the ways you can use them.
1. USE HYPER-TARGETING TO CONNECT WITH THE RIGHT CUSTOMER IN REAL-TIME.
If marketing is truly about getting the right message in front of the right person at the right time, then Virtual Atoms are the perfect tool. You can drop virtual coupons anywhere, right down to an individual house, venue or at street level, and at any time. We can even drop Virtual Atoms around individuals wherever they happen to be! For example, as part of a Covid treatment concept, you could target Covid hotspots with virtual testing kits. Customers could collect and activate these virtual coupons to have the test kits sent to them at the click of a button. This shows how you can tailor your approach to specific areas and respond to people and conditions in real time.
2. upgrade loyalty programmes with a bespoke digital currency.
You can use VA's to create a unique digital currency for your brand. Not only would this be a powerful way to reward high-value customers, but it would also upgrade your lead generation and raise awareness in the markets that matter in a multi-channel, multi-disciplinary way.
3. revolutionise product sampling, coupons, discounts and vouchers.
In the past, many brands would broadcast content to customers rather than focusing on interacting with them. Virtual Atoms offer real value as part of the marketing engagement, as they create interaction by allowing audiences to engage, collect and share. They blend the virtual world with real-world locations. For one of our clients, we’re placing virtual samples for customers around key retailers to collect for real-life rewards. The VA's can also be featured on TV, social media channels, through texts or emails, and even displayed on bus adverts, packaging, POS, and posters. But it doesn’t end there – Virtual Atoms can create the perfect redemption system too. Here’s what we did for CUB across Australia.
4. IMPROVE YOUR TEAM'S HEALTH AND WELLBEING.
We used Virtual Atoms to create Connectiv, a customised employee wellness platform where people are rewarded for doing physical and mental tasks in the real world (collecting Virtual Atoms along the way). These points are then translated into real-world benefits like gym memberships and fitness tools. Not only does this promote better physical and mental health for employees, but also helps create better awareness and engagement, and drives team-building opportunities. These tokens can be customised to work for any employee goals.
5. ADD VALUE TO INFORMATION.
You can create a single, global transferable information currency on a Virtual Atom platform, and it can work in a channel-agnostic way. Then it can be used by employees, customers, stakeholders and partners, and you can decide on the goals and rewards. For example, if your customers earn enough points, they get a free consultation or access to an exclusive white paper. It can turn information into tangible value.
6. CREATE A BRANDED TREASURE HUNT.
By using the geolocation benefits of Virtual Atoms, you can create virtual drops and waypoints across cities, office blocks, or event locations, and then reward your customer’s sense of adventure and play on their FOMO. The possibilities are endless, but the results are almost guaranteed: you get a digital scavenger hunt with a high ROI. We did this for Temenos, the world’s leading banking software company, at the Sibos virtual conference for the global financial community.
All this sounds a bit like digital sorcery, doesn't it? That’s exactly why we’re so excited about it! The possibilities are literally endless, and not just when it comes to creating engaging campaigns that will surprise and delight, but for solving real business challenges too. This year companies have to be bold and try new things to help keep their brand moving forward – and Virtual Media, like VA's, might just be that ‘new thing’ for you. Give it a go, you’ve only got everything to gain...
With nearly 30 years of marketing experience, both client and agency side, I’ve acquired a rare perspective on brands and business: I believe you have to challenge things creatively if you want to grow sales. Consumer technology is reshaping our world, and it’s only the great brands that stay on the crest.