The Growing Demands of AR, VR, and AI
Mike Elgan’s Computerworld article, “Why ‘experiential’ marketing will be a massive IT challenge,“ makes some great points about the demands that marketers face. Great marketing aims to hit specific emotions by telling a story to create an experience. It’s the growl in the stomach triggered by a great food shot, or the uncomfortable anxiety caused by the prospect of being underinsured. Creativity and content have always been drivers — now, with new mediums available through advancing technologies, they enable truly affecting experiences.
Elgan’s first subhead, “Why enterprises aren’t ready for experiential marketing,” cuts to the high cost associated with experiential marketing. Enterprise IT has traditionally fallen in finance side of a business — structured, ROI, operational. Of the many kinds of brand experiences we have produced for our clients over the years, augmented reality (AR), virtual reality (VR), and artificial intelligence (AI) have each had a significant cost of entry. Creating AR and VR requires massive amounts of raw hardware, processor rendering time, and terabytes of storage — not to mention the costs of the development software. There is also the cost of the people who build, manage, and maintain the infrastructure. Our developer workstations are the envy of the company, costing up to 100 times as much as a copywriter’s desktop PC and software. And like a fleet of jets, they only generate revenue when they’re flying. You can’t afford to have them sitting idle, so you cluster them together into render farms to improve utilization. And you add dedicated servers to the cluster to further enhance the farm’s overall power. Several seconds of end image output can require hours of dedicated CPU time. Now, when you think about how AR and VR work — with branching options, changing environments, sound and audio tracking, and synchronization, and with testing and troubleshooting on all imaginable platforms — the high cost of a minute of experience starts to make sense. Tens of thousands of cents. We won’t even branch into what’s involved in a change order.
The next subhead, “Who’s going to do this?” draws attention to another significant point and challenge: staffing. Elgan states, “For small- and medium-size businesses, the answer is obvious: They’ll hire experiential marketing specialists, and those agencies will have more developers and IT professionals than creatives.” This statement is true, we staff up for all, but work experience and the ability of developers and creatives to collaborate are critical. Developers must avoid scope creep with an understanding of what designers are working to deliver for a customer, and designers must understand the technology well enough to ensure their design won’t break the bank. This illustrates yet another step in the continuum of digital experience requirements in advertising and marketing. And Egan is right; there is competition to find the right people to fill these positions.
More Demand on a CMO
The continuing shift toward experiential marketing and its associated costs is one of many demands affecting the role of a CMO. In a LinkedIn post and reference to a Forbes article, “Reinventing the Role of the CMO,” by Antonio Lucio, chief marketing and communications officer, HP Inc., Adcetera's Pagogh Cho reflects, “It’s a fantastic articulation of the shifts in marketing we’re feeling and a remedy for navigating forward. For many, we feel the pressure to be all. But for the next, we should focus on where/how we can be effective. What’s your superpower? And are you championing your cause?”
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