Ipsos MORI and Gorilla In The Room’s pioneering ‘shock and gore’ project shows real world viability for virtual reality in recreating environments.
Using VR to accurately recreate environments for market research took a significant step forward after a pioneering project between Gorilla In The Room, Ipsos MORI and The Royal Shakespeare Company (RSC) confirmed its effectiveness for over 90 percent of respondents.
The aim of the project was to establish the strength of the emotional responses elicited in VR compared to theatre and live to cinema performances when watching The RSC production of Titus Andronicus, Shakespeare’s goriest revenge tragedy. Comparing the number of times the heart rates of theatre goers, cinema goers, and respondents wearing VR headsets peaked above average was comparable in all conditions across the performance. “The results have shown us that even after more than 400 years Shakespeare’s work still packs an emotional punch, wherever and however it is experienced,” says Sarah Ellis, RSC Director of Digital Development.
A key finding, with implications for both theatre performance and research purposes, was that all participants who viewed the full three-hour performance of Titus Andronicus within the VR (HTC Vive) headset did so willingly and with no side effects. Tolerance to 360 video in VR was both strong and positive with 63% stating that they would consider VR to experience theatre in the future.
91% felt there were times when they were physically present in the theatre. VR made a much larger percentage of the audience feel present in the performance than cinema, in which only six in ten participants felt that they were there. An analysis of verbatim comments also showed that VR encouraged a higher level of emotional engagement than cinema. VR’s immersive nature simulated the theatre experience so well that many exhibited theatre style behaviour, such as clapping and laughing.
Dr Alastair Goode, Cognitive Scientist at Gorilla In The Room says: “This project has shown, under the right conditions, VR provides an effective environment to undertake research and be confident that the results are representative. It highlights the potential for VR to have a greater impact on consumer research than Behavioural economics.”
Pippa Bailey, Ipsos MORI’s Head of Innovation, adds: “Being able to use VR to recreate situations and scenarios, virtually anywhere, has the potential to transform the way we undertake research. For example, in the testing of new environments (e.g. travel hubs and retail spaces), the evaluation of out of home ads/comms, the evaluation of pricing, promotions, POS, concepts, and new/revised packaging.”
Becky Loftus, RSC Head of Audience Insight, says: “It was fascinating to watch people being so immersed in the 360 filmed VR experience that they forgot they weren’t at the theatre. One respondent kicked his shoes off then looked down and was shocked not to see his legs there.”
Mainstream media (e.g. The Times), the research industry (e.g. ResearchLive) and theatre tiles (e.g. The Stage) have covered the story.
A total of 107 participants took part in the study, split out across three different experiences; live theatre, live to cinema and in VR. Heart rate monitors were worn to biometrically measure emotional engagement throughout the performance and a mobile survey, incorporating video as well as explicit and implicit questions, was used at the end of the performance to gain further understanding of each experience. The closeness of VR to theatre in terms of audience experience, and particularly when compared to live cinema, demonstrates the immersive technology's ability to simulate reality. The project showed the potential for VR to be a robust and, potentially, more cost-effective tool for immersive commercial research.
Ipsos continues to work with Gorilla In The Room to identify opportunities for incorporating virtual and mixed reality into its research offering to provide more realistic representations of stimuli, and hence deeper and more valid insights.
Dr Alastair Goode, our Cognitive Scientist, is featured in Admap's October issue: "Marketing Embraces New Technology". This month's magazine delves into the tangible results of brands using VR, AR and AI with our in-house Doctor discussing the meaningful and practical application of VR in consumer research. If you don't have an Admap subscription then please email us and we'll send you a copy at the end of the month.
We won Best Data Solution at the Market Research Society Operations Awards for creating the industry’s first VR panel with Populus Data Solutions.
The judges said we “were the worthy winners with an extremely innovative use of smartphone technology and Google headsets to test store concepts for O2. The client was clearly impressed with the elegance of this cutting edge solution in providing an immersive real-world virtual reality solution on a quantitative scale, without disruption to their physical stores.”
Dr Alastair Goode (Cognitive Scientist at Gorilla In The Room) said “this study shows that VR has the potential to have a greater impact on market research than behavioural economics” as he collected his sixth MRS award.
Please get in touch to hear more about our VR panel and our approach to VR (and AR) as a consumer research tool for brand positioning, NPD, packaging design and point of sale.
We've spent the last couple of months building an AR app for Ipsos and tonight is was launches as part of Ipsos MORI Lates annual client event.
Consumer research has been guiding business decisions for decades however VR provides a new perspective
You might be sitting at your desk, in a café or on a crowded train at the moment however your mobile (placed in a VR headset) can teleport you to a luxury hotel room, five-star restaurant or Brighton beach. Marketers have been experimenting with VR as an advertising channel for a few years however we can now prove VR's meaningful (and immediate) value as a market research tool.
We launched the industry's first VR research panel earlier this year with respondents reporting a 17% increase in survey enjoyment (compared to online surveys) which proved the benefits of coupling VR with market research. Whilst one shows us the world, the other seeks to understand it. It also solves the genuine problem of contemporary market research methods which ask people to consciously recall events or imagine scenarios in person, over the phone or online. VR transforms this entirely.
When retail goes virtual
The retail sector in particular can benefit from new market research tools. Asking people to accurately recall or predict how they’d behave in a real shop is tricky. Testing point of sale in a crowded retail environment is very difficult; mocking up the physical retail space is too costly, time-consuming and problematic to test at a large scale. Conducting large-scale market research which genuinely replicates real world experiences, is even harder.
With VR, anything from NPD, pack design, product positioning, messaging and branding to in-store layout can be researched en masse and on budget. 3D CGI VR room-scale environments, like our virtual supermarket, simulate real shopping behaviour in the context of real world behaviour. This does however involve recruiting respondents to a viewing facility, so we also wanted to create a genuinely scalable option.
We partnered with Populus to create the first VR panel - powered by smartphones, Google Cardboard headsets and 360 video - to do just that. It was first put to the test when O2 approached Populus with an in-store point of sale challenge and we've subsequently worked on a range of briefs, from FMCG to Banking, to answer a range of marketing questions.
There were a number of challenges to overcome first
Firstly, respondents had to be recruited and provided with low cost Google Cardboard headsets. They had to pass standard research survey screening, and they needed to have phones compatible with Google Cardboard. As two-thirds had never experienced VR before, they had to be given clear and simple instructions on how to use it.
Creating the virtual store itself came with its own unique set of challenges. The 360 camera position had to be carefully chosen due to the fixed 360 perspective. In-store permissions had to be arranged (including legal, security, health and safety considerations) and a consistent environment, such as in-store music, had to be used throughout. It was also important, on the first project, to benchmark the study alongside traditional 2D in-survey mock-ups.
In post-production, we altered the physical store fixtures with photorealistic CGI to create different 360 video versions across different cells and have continued to refine our workflow so it's now a quick and seamless process.
So, what have we learnt?
According to Populus research, there was a 17% increase in survey enjoyment and engagement among respondents in comparison to the benchmark online survey. Of those who responded, 88% would be interested in doing a VR survey again in future. That’s good news, as we've started to build a VR panel which can be utilised on multiple studies, with respondents primed and ready for the next one.
Two-thirds (75%) said it was more fun to do a survey with VR and 68% found Google Cardboard easy to use. We also countered the "older people will find it difficult" question by proving similar engagement levels across 16-24s and 55+. Importantly, there are major learnings for brands. They've gained insight into the optimum messaging and retail set-up to increase cut-through and understanding of new products - which leads to more sales.
VR surveys won’t be appropriate for all topics or all audiences, but the evidence is that the approach ‘brings to life’ adverts, displays, products and in-store environments in a richer way than a traditional survey with static images. 360 video experiences powered by respondent mobiles and £2 VR headsets enable qual insight to be scaled to a quant sample like never before.
Source: The Drum
Isn’t 360 better?
The clever folks at Google figured out that whilst 360 video might be best for most immersive VR content, there is definitely a gap in the market for something halfway between regular video and 360 video that has a few unique advantages. We already have a 180 camera as part of our collection so we thought we'd share our thoughts.
Get off the set!
In a similar fashion to typical TV sets, we might not have access to 360 degrees of suitable views, sometimes there is just nowhere for the all those lights, wires and production crew to hide. 180 video makes it much easier to work like traditional camera operators without the need to control the whole environment so carefully.
Because the images are captured with a couple of fisheye lenses, the same distance apart as human eyes, we get lovely stereoscopic images without the complex stitching work we have with 360 images involving cameras pointing in multiple directions. The depth of field created by stereoscopic cameras make the experience looks more 3D. Also, because less cameras are needed, it gives us the option to use our bank of cameras to record multiple viewpoints at the same time, something very expensive to do with the bigger 360 camera rigs.
Half the problem
We only have half the data, compared to 360 video, so it helps solve some of the problems of huge files for 360 video content, with longer format high quality 360 videos up to 25GB in size. So anything we can do to limit the download problems becomes a blessing. Perhaps the eventual arrival of 5G could make this a moot point though.
Perhaps, as working in VR becomes more commonplace, people might partition their virtual space similar to how we work wth multiple monitors today e.g. 180 degrees for the news, 90 degrees for the stock exchange and some documents in the other 90 degrees?
I think Google is hoping that whilst 360 is cool, 180 video will make immersive cinematic VR cheaper and easier to produce for anyone more familiar with traditional cinematography techniques. 360 is certainly a very challenging format and perhaps 180 is a great stepping stone for content creators who would just like to dip their toes into the waters gradually.
Perhaps a format for the next 5 years than something that endures? Or is this a new emerging medium in its own right? Would love to hear your thoughts in the comments below...
O2 wanted to create a more eye-catching point of sale proposition in their stores. One which more clearly - and immediately - conveyed what the product is and what the benefits are. With limited space and a crowded environment, the challenge was to bring the retail environment to life for consumer research.
Showing respondents 2D images of a 3D space isn't optimal and mocking up the physical retail environment would be too costly, time consuming and problematic to test at scale. Could Virtual Reality generate meaningful findings? We created the industry's first VR panel to validate whether it added to the research experience and could be a new tool to address declining response rates in quantitative research.
Gorilla In The Room worked with Populus and Populus Data Solutions to design an intuitive mobile solution which integrated VR into the survey. Respondents were sent Google Cardboard headsets and invited to take part in the survey using their smartphone. A sample of 400 was split into five monadic cells with each cell exposed to a 360 video of the O2 store. Each 360 video variant had store assets digitally altered for different cells using CGI.
We filmed 360 video on location at one of the O2 stores trialling the product, with the 360 video camera in a fixed position, ensuring that the only variation between different executions were the representations of the bay. This approach ensured that factors with the store layout - such as other point of sale and messaging surrounding the product bay and the wider store environment - were consistent and did not bias the results in any way. When respondents viewed 360 videos through a VR headset, the standard O2 radio station was playing, adding to the realistic atmosphere and immersive experience.
VR brought the concepts to life, allowing respondents to feel fully engaged and involved with the study. This immersive approach provides a far more accurate portrayal compared to concepts tested in isolation, particularly for awareness and clarity. It provided real world context of being in a busy in-store environment.
This insight gave clear direction to O2 on the best performing concepts and better data on store set-up. The full case study will be published in Admap however key findings include; VR more accurately reflected real world sales data and conventional research is over-claimed by 50%. We were also able to prove the practical application of VR in quantitative research - by scaling qual insight to a quant sample - and that respondent enjoyment increased by 68% compared to an online survey running at the same time.
“Thank you for a great experience. It was very cool to do something new. I’ll look forward to the next survey”
“Brilliant survey and very different”
“I liked the whole experience, enjoyed every second of it.”
Respondents reported that VR enhanced the experience of a survey with net enjoyability significantly higher than a comparable standard quant survey run over the same period.
The full case study will be published in Admap next month however get in touch if you'd like to find out more.
The steady evolution of film
Cinematographers and film directors have been developing the visual language of film since its inception over 100 years ago, over the years we have been adapting this with new tools and techniques such as CGI and computer animation, both of which fitted nicely into the old frameworks.
Throw the old rulebook out of the window!
VR and other immersive media forms such as 360 video are an entirely new way to tell stories, and as such the old ways of thinking within a frame are completely outdated, VR needs a quite different way of thinking.
Don’t know where to start?
We have written this blog post to help anyone who is looking at commissioning, creating or directing VR content to get their head around some of the key things that make these types of media unique and exciting.
You’ve been framed
Probably the single biggest difference with VR is the lack of a frame, no longer do you have this funny rectangle where you control where people can look and where they can’t.
Giving people the freedom to look anywhere means you need to give up control of what they are looking at, but you might want to still encourage them to be looking at a certain thing. You might want to add a person or animated character to give them a guided tour.
Light the way
We can also use light, colour or movement in a subtle way to attract our audiences eyes to important areas in our scenes.
Choose the 360 lens
VR also makes things like your choice of lens an obsolete concern, no more whipping out your favourite fish eye lens for the hiphop effect or a zoom lens for a flattering portrait, Now everyone now has the same lens – a 360 one!
Get into position
Still, the main way you can control the experience is by positioning your audience where you would like them to see the action from. Tell the story from a child’s perspective from a low position, or from a birds eye view from up in the sky. Try to avoid putting the camera right in the centre of the action as it might cause some discomfort by forcing the audience to looking around too much.
Get out of my face
An old favourite from photography and film is the close-up, but this now takes on a new meaning as it is actually you, and not the camera who is getting very close to the subject. This might make the audience feel more uncomfortable than they are used to in film as their personal space is being virtually invaded.
Focus, Focus, Focus
In film we are used to using focused and defocused areas of the frame to create beautiful compositions that encourage our viewers to look at an object that is important to the story. The problem if we replicate this in VR is that our eyes often try to focus on these blurry objects, which can be a big source of headaches as it will be impossible to bring them into focus like our brains would like.
Grab a bucket
If you have been on one of those VR roller coaster apps you might have experienced feeling sick in VR. It is usually caused if the movement in VR doesn’t match up with your other senses such as your sense of balance in your inner ear or your body position. A good rule of thumb is to try and not move the viewer and let them have control of movement. If you must move them, try to make it slow and steady, or at least motivated, i.e. you are sitting in a vehicle.
Take a trip!
Cutting shots together in an edit is also problematic as each time you cut you are effectively transporting people around in time and space which isn’t the most natural feeling! Used carefully this ability to transport people is incredibly powerful though.
Because you are never sure where your viewer is looking, it is also now harder to connect shots together whilst telling a story, one thing you might want to do is make sure that the most interesting area on one shot lines up nicely with the place you want the audience to be looking on the next shot. If there are no specific focal points then you could consider flowing from one mood to another. Fades can work nicely as you are giving people a bit of notice that you are about to take them on a journey.
Enter the Matrix
The coolest thing about VR is the ability to explore time and space freed from the laws of physics. In film a slow mo shot is cool to watch, but to actually freeze time in VR is a mind blowing experience which can be used really nicely to tell a story in a non-linear way.
Breaking the fourth wall
Another interesting thing to bear in mind is that VR might be closer to ancient forms of storytelling like theatre or sculpture than it is to film or photography. The way a magician uses misdirection to control your gaze, or how video game designers structure a story might provide inspiration for your work.
As a final thought, we’re going to say you need to experiment and test things out for yourself. It's a very young medium and as such is still being formed.
Get in touch if you have a challenge we can help with.
Our partnership with Populus Data Solutions has heralded the research industry's first VR panel. It represents a step change in qualitative research as studies can now be scaled to a quantitative sample to provide more reliable data.
Consumer research, as an industry, struggles to predict purchase behaviour as respondents are increasingly disengaged with online research and studies are frequently conducted out of context. We increase respondent engagement with contextual, real world stimulus, so marketers have better predictions about purchase decisions.
Our inaugural project for O2 tested different retail environments with 400 respondents using their mobile and VR headset to view 360 videos of the store. In-store displays and messaging where altered using CGI so we could test different versions of the video against 5 research segments. More details in our Admap paper published in a few days.
“The launch and success of the Populus Data Solutions VR panel is a huge step forward in the industry” said Patrick Diamond, MD of Populus Data Solutions. “By incorporating virtual reality within an online survey, we can put respondents into an immersive environment that is likely to give a better prediction of their real world behaviour”.