ABOUT: I am one of three founders of Bandara, a leading VR/AR content studio based in Zurich, Switzerland. We launched this company in May 2015 and it was a blast to be part of the XR community the last five years. Looking back, I always was fascinated by computers and their possibilities, especially in gaming. My first console was the MSX Philips VG-8020, so you can guess my age. Before studying media and communication science, I got my degree as multimedia producer and I wrote my master thesis about gaming – so the topic always accompanied me. When I got the chance to start a VR company with friends, it was passion and profession coming together.
How did you guys get into VR?
– We travelled to Ubud, Bali in May 2015 to discuss possiblie business ideas. The main focus of such a company wasn’t clear upfront, but during our discussions, it became clear that Virtual Reality wasn’t only a topic that was hot at the moment, but we all were very interested in this technology and the team had a mix of skills that fitted well. We decided to look more closely into the topic,did a lot of research and interviewed possible clients. After a few months, we not just only were able to create 360° content, but also had our first client project. So we officially started our company and founded Bandara in fall 2015. As the idea was born in Bali, we chose an Indonesian name: Bandara means airport in Indonesian. Because like an airport, VR takes you wherever you want to go. Minus the jet lag, of course.
What is it like working with you guys?
– From the beginning, we set our focus on immersive content such as 360°, VR and AR. In this field, we serve as a full service agency: Whenever possible, we get involved from the idea phase on and consult our clients how to make the best use of VR and AR. Once the concept is ready and approved, we take care of the whole production process. As the professional expertise (i.e. medical expert knowledge) comes from our clients, we often start a project with a kick-off workshop to define a detailed concept. We also make sure the content has the right impact on the target audience, so we also accompany our clients in the distribution phase. During all steps, we report to our clients on a regular basis which allows us to create our content in an iterative way.
How would you describe your company culture?
– We have a very flat hierarchy where everyone gets their say and is encouraged to share their view and ideas. Our vision is to use cutting edge technologies to create jaw-dropping content for our clients. For that we use the best tools available and also go the extra mile to achieve this goal.
What is your company’s core expertise and why?
– Based on our backgrounds, we have a strong expertise in concepting XR experiences and also producing the content. In addition to the founders, our team consists of two experienced developers who both also have a background as game designers. With the experience of more than 150 successful client projects, we perfectly know what works in XR – and what probably doesn’t.
Do you offer any type of satisfaction guarantee or revisions of completed work?
– Our main focus is to satisfy our clients. So even if we plan our feedback loops, we don’t hesitate to go the extra mile to improve our products even more, often to our extents.
Can you explain to me why I should invest in a VR campaign?
– Immersive technologies such as VR and AR are better than any other media to involve your clients, as they have to get active and participate in the experience. Not only does the novelty of the technology help to grasp the attention of the target audience, but several studies show that content consumed in VR especially is remembered better than content in other media. Also, AR and VR are very young technologies and the market will grow fast. Now it is the time to start experimenting with these technologies to get insights about the possibilities.
What is your best tip for a brand looking to launch its first VR experience?
– Think about AR and VR as new ingredients of your marketing mix. AR and VR both have its strengths and weaknesses to reach and emotionally touch your audience. So in a first step, get yourself involved with these technologies and try, try and try. Don’t be afraid to test several VR and AR experiences yourself to see the technologies’ impact and implications. In a next step, discuss use cases for these technologies in your team. In this phase, consider inviting external experts to prioritise these use cases and discuss feasibility of a realisation. Start with innovative, small projects and learn from them.
What sort of VR experiences do you think we will see in the future, in terms of marketing?
– On the VR hardware side, we’ll see improved devices that include haptics, eye-tracking and even smell, as there are already products available in this sector. Also, Brain-Computer-Interfaces (BCI) will be available to use your mind for interactions in the future. There are already simple products on the market right now where you can play minigames with your mind only. With eye-tracking, it will be possible to very accurately track your advertisements and determine which ads will get the attention you seek.
How big can VR and AR marketing get and what will it take for it to get there?
– Nowadays, VR and AR are relevant tools in a marketer’s toolbox – but in the future, they will grow even more important: I am convinced that VR and AR will merge into one technology and head mounted displays will be able to switch between both. As soon as such glasses are available and broadly adapted, this technology will be as big or even bigger as mobile marketing right now. Besides the hardware, a digital twin of our world (sometimes referred to as Mirrorworld or AR Cloud) will be needed to merge the physical and the digital world. Already several companies are working on such technologies, so I expect this to happen in the next decade.
How would you define a successful VR or AR marketing experience?
– First and foremost, VR and AR are about delivering outstanding brand experiences. In addition to the brand building aspect, there might be different KPIs depending on the idea and technology. For an AR shopping experience, you might want to track the conversion rate whereas for a VR experience at an exhibition it’s more relevant to get as much people as possible to your booth (and maybe create sales leads).
What is it about VR that gets you excited?
– As a user, you’re in the middle of the action. This direct, raw and emotional relation with the content makes it a very fascinating technology. Also, we’re just in the beginning of a growing market and it’s really exciting to see new ideas, concepts and technologies emerge on a weekly basis. And as a content producer and expert, it is even possible to shape the landscape.
What VR experience do you fantasize about experiencing in your lifetime?
– I grew up with Sci-Fi movies, so several experiences would be really nice to experience. It would be great to see a kind of metaverse or Mirrorworld in which the global population can come together and we stop thinking about our society in terms of countries and borders.