Designer / Creative Hybrid

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Sustainable VR

Designing ethical and effective marketing experiences in VR.

Sustainable VR Marketing Guidelines

Designing ethical and effective marketing experiences in VR

Independent Project / 8 Weeks

My Role: VR Prototyping / VR Interface Design / Experience Design / Visual Design / Research
Toolkit: Unity / Sketch / Cinema 4D / Wed VR / Photoshop / Keynote


 

Challenge

Despite the rapid advancement of virtual reality technology, VR marketing is still a wild wild west with no industry standard and legal regulations written.

A lack of awareness on the potentially negative impacts of irresponsible VR marketing could compromise not only VR users’ satisfaction and wellbeing, but also VR industry’s healthy growth.

OPPORTUNITY

The interest level in virtual reality within the marketing industry is at an all-time-high.

It is a good time to start a conversation around designing ethical and effective marketing experience for VR users and paving the way towards a safer and more user-friendly VR environment for all.

Solution

After weeks of research, I coined and defined the term “Sustainable VR Marketing”, and provided suggestive guidelines for designing ethical and effective marketing experiences in VR through fun and engaging VR and web experiences.

 

 
 
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CONCEPT Definition

So, what is Sustainable VR Marketing?

I created the concept of “Sustainable VR Marketing” by blending the definition of virtual reality, rules of ethical marketing, and principles of virtual reality UX. I believe that defining what an optimal state is the first step to initiate the conversation around the topic. 

 
 
 
 

VR EXPERIENCE

A Free VR App 

Sustainable VR Marketing Guidelines comes in the form of virtual reality experience. Leveraging the immersive power of VR, the experience consists of mini-lessons that compare and contrast different ways of marketing in VR in a fun and engaging way. The goal is to paint a picture of the vast possibilities of VR for marketing while highlighting the potential consequences of unregulated VR marketing practices.

The experience is designed to be compatible with the most basic hardware and software capabilities and is planned to be marketed as a free app in Google and Oculus VR stores.

 
 
 
 

VR EXPERIENCE

 
 

Onboarding / App Menu

Before entering the main experience, players can explore the app menu and familiarize with the app’s context and structure. The “Choose Scene” page allows players to re-play a lesson, while the “About This App” page highlights the availability of additional tools and resources to learn more about the topic.

 
 
 
 
 
 

VR EXPERIENCE

 
 

Lesson one: Gotham City

The Tour Mode, once selected, will open with the first mini-lesson: Gotham City

 
 
 

FIRST SCENE 

In the first scene,  players see a pop-up window with a message that reads as follows:

 
 
 
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Looking around, players find themselves under siege by dozens of virtual out-of-home ads competing for their attention through visual and auditory over-stimulation. 

The volume of these billboards varies with their distance from users. Users can either walk around and explore the scene, or move on to the next scene.

 
 
 
 
 
 

SECOND SCENE

The second scene is a replica of the first scene, with a few important changes.

The first thing players notice is the absence of audio advertising messages. Instead of being forced into engaging with the ads, players now have the power of choosing freely when and how to engage with them by turning on/off the skeuomorphic buttons. 

 
 
 
 
 
 

The message in the pop-up window explains what to avoid while designing VR marketing content from a human heuristic perspective, the reason behind the difference from the first scene, and an exercise prompt encouraging players to come up with their own solution that improves the condition in the first scene.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 

VR EXPERIENCE

 
 

Lesson Two: Summer Camp

Moving on from Lesson One - Gotham City, player enter the second mini-lesson: Summer Camp.

 
 
 

FIRST SCENE

In the first scene,  players see a pop-up window with a message that reads as follows:

 
 
 
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While looking around, players spot a bottle of Hudson Baby Bourbon on the ground right next to where they are standing, along with a glass filled with the liquor.

Users can walk towards the liquor bottle/glass duo, pick them up and inspect them, walk around the scene with them, or move on to the next scene.

 
 
 
 
 
 

SECOND SCENE

Again, the second scene is a replica of the first scene, but it comes with a noticeable change.

Looking around, instead of the branded whiskey kit, players see a green Coleman outdoor tent, set up not too far away from them. 

 
 
 
 
 
 

The message in the pop-up window explains what to keep in mind while designing VR marketing content - both from an ethic perspective and an editorial perspective, and a question prompting players to think of an alternative solution.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 

VR EXPERIENCE

 
 

Lesson Three: Bowling Green

Moving on from Lesson Two - Summer Camp, player enter the third mini-lesson: Bowling Green

 
 
 

FIRST SCENE

In the first scene,  players see a pop-up window with a message that reads as follows:

 
 
 
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Looking around, players find themselves standing across the street from a movie theater covered in promotional materials for Ready Player One, the 2018 movie directed by Steven Spielberg.

Users can inspect the movie posters, walk around the scene or move on to the next scene.

 
 
 
 
 
 

SECOND SCENE

Again, the second scene is a replica of the first scene, with a small but significant difference.

On the showtime display board, under “READY PLAYER ONE”, players now see a fine print stating the fact that the composition is partially or entirely “Sponsored by Warner Bros.” 

 
 
 
 
 
 

The message in the pop-up window explains the addition of the sponsorship statement from an ethic perspective, as well as a question prompting players to design a solution of their own.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 

WEB EXPERIENCE

 
 

sustainableVRmarketing.com

In addition to the VR app, a website containing additional tools and resources is created for players and people who wish to explore the topic further. I also believe it is beneficial, and crucial, for VR experiences to have at least one form of existence that lives outside the VR environment and can be accessed with a screen device like a phone or PC.

 
 
 

DESIGN PROCESS

 
 

A peek into behind-the-scene

To read about my research and see details of my design process (product style guide, UX & UI considerations, and wireframes), prototyping process (UI iterations, assets creation), and design artifacts (user persona and user flow), please hit the button below.

 
 
 
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Conclusion

 
 

What’s next?

When I first started the project, I felt disoriented among a sea of knowledge and information (“Where do I start?” “How do I move on next?”). Then comes the frustration with the seemingly never-ending prototyping roadblocks (“Why won’t the teleport work??” “Why is there still a script error??”). Eventually, a heavy feeling of uncertainty towards the value of my research and creation crushed on me like a magnifying glass (“Will anyone ever finds any of this useful???”). 

Thankfully, I’ve received quite a few positive feedback on the project from my professors and peers since then. However, knowing that the project is far from perfect, I will keep improving and expanding it, with a goal to create safer and more user-friendly VR environment for the future generation.

That’s a wrap for now!