You might be on the fence about the Metaverse, but AR and VR technology will be the next big thing in enrollment marketing. There’s no doubt it’s coming. Here’s why.
It’s possible you watched Zuckerberg’s keynote speech introducing Meta (formerly Facebook) and thought, “This is only going to be for kids who want to play around with virtual reality games.”
You’d be right – but that’s exactly why this new wave of technology will be so important to enrollment marketing.
The Alpha generation will be the first to begin experiencing the Metaverse.
And yes, they’ll probably get their first exposure to VR technology (virtual reality) or AR (augmented reality) in the context of video games or social media.
But don’t make the mistake of thinking the Metaverse will be an occasional, recreational game for youngsters.
The Metaverse will eventually become the way that coming generations experience the world.
Think about how Gen X and early Millennials experienced computer, video game, and Internet technologies in the 80’s and 90’s.
These were virtual experiences you jumped in and out of for a game, to prepare a spreadsheet, or to message (IM) your friends.
The experience with these virtual spaces were limited in scope and in duration.
They were a part of your daily life, but you didn’t live out your life through them.
By the time Gen Z came along, the Internet and mobile technologies had evolved to the point where these virtual spaces are now an extended part of their everyday reality.
Human experiences like friendship, dating, and work life are now commonly lived out entirely online via screens, cameras, and mobile devices.
In fact, even the distinction between human and machine is becoming blurred as young people grow up interacting with artificial intelligence for things we used to go to humans for.
Just one example, when Gen Z and future generations have a question, they don’t go to the library or ask a real person, they go to a search engine.
It’s how they will get their news, their education, their products and services, and more.
In the near future, VR technology will be a common way Gen Alpha will interact with educational institutions.
It’s not too hard to see this as a reality if you simply look at the trajectory of today’s technologies.
360 degree online campus tours have been around for some years now, and they’re getting better.
Personalization has been a fast-moving trend since the turn of the millennium, and the demand for even higher degrees of personalization will only increase.
Video calls to cultivate prospective students were accelerated during the COVID pandemic, and virtual enrollment visits will continue to be a part of enrollment strategies for decades to come.
With these marketing trends paired with the growing demand for VR technology, enrollment marketing will soon include 3D virtual interactions with prospective students.
As we explored in my last post, the Metaverse really is not so much a new technology as much as it is a collection of different technologies that keep evolving together to create a new, universal experience for end users.
Some of these evolving technologies are the Internet, VR technology, AR technology, processors, batteries, high-capacity storage, artificial intelligence, and more.
These technologies are so woven together that you wouldn’t see much advancement in one without advancements in the other.
You need massive upgrades in processing power and high-capacity, fast-retrieval (solid state) storage to have significant advancements in artificial intelligence, or machine learning.
Artificial intelligence is what’s behind the filters you see in social media and video calls, like this now-famous Zoom call blunder below.
Now that AI has gotten to the point where you can look like an animal, another person, or even a fantastical creature, VR technology can begin to take off.
Modern AI makes it possible for users to have their own virtual identities, what Meta (formerly Facebook) is calling “avatars.”
That’s what technology is up to, but what about market demand?
Look at the stats on VR technology from this article:
- Just over half of consumers, 53%, report that they’re interested in using VR or AR in the next three months.
- The AR and VR market had sold 8.9 million units by the end of 2018, which is expected to grow to 65.9 million by the end of 2022.
- AR and VR headset sales are expected to grow to $9.7 billion in 2022.
- Nearly half of consumers would be more likely to shop at a retailer that utilizes AR or VR.
- 70% of customers believe that AR can bring benefits.
- The AR market should grow to one billion users by the end of 2022.
- The majority of augmented reality users fall into the 16 to 34 age bracket.
- There are more AR users than VR users, with the technology being used by 8% and 13% of the population respectively.
- 47% of Apple ARKits were used for video games.
- The AR market is worth a purported $3.5 billion.
Right now, it’s true that VR technology and AR are still more geared towards gaming and social interactions.
However, there are tech companies currently investing in ways to bring VR technology to the business market.
But that’s not the main reason you should take this future trend seriously.
Once young generations begin to interact with VR technology in their childhood, it will become their native method of social interaction, communication, and understanding the world.
Is this a good thing or a bad thing?
I believe there should be serious research and discussion done on the potential social, psychological, and emotional effects of this coming shift.
But none of our concerns will change what’s coming for future generations of prospective students.
To stay relevant with your audience, your institution will need to pivot by incorporating VR technology in your enrollment marketing efforts sometime in the near future.
For more insights on marketing trends like this one and how you can optimize your digital enrollment marketing for better results, please contact us today.
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Featured image by Ra2 Studio via Adobe Stock