Ahead of the Magnify Conference on VR/AR we spoke with keynote speaker Catherine Patterson, Y&R's Director of Interactive & Activation, on marketing and branding in the virtual world.

VR's arrival on the market is so far driven and dominated by gaming - in terms of advertising and branding do you think companies are going to look to gaming as the next frontier of advertising?

I think agencies and brands are wise to look at gaming as a rich and informative stunt playground for how to develop experiences, collaborative or solo-based that provide both alternative and VR modes of engagement.

Does the idea of isolated experiences give you cause for concern or do you believe VR can be/will be a highly integrated with social networks?

I think VR will need to evolve past a solo experience into one that can be emphatically experienced and shared. We can have multiple people sharing the same VR and with gestural interface they may begin to affect it and experience it in a more collective way. Ultimately it will be integrated - yes.


Are you looking to China where the VR market is projected to be worth billions in 2020?

We are looking to APAC (Asia-Pacific) for all kinds of creative growth. Mobile, language, gestural interface VR and future cities with "conditional reality".

Given that high-end VR headsets are currently prohibitively expensive, how long do you think it will take for VR to penetrate everyday people's lives. Do you think the cheaper models coming out of China will overtake Oculus, and HTC?

About a year and a half for more robust headsets the rest is already happening through vast distribution networks using simple cardboard - I refer here to Google cardboard, to McDonald's using packaging to create VR - less fidelity but perfectly fantastic. Gaming, entertainment markets all will have a very large influence on what is adopted.

Does Sony's Playstation VR factor into much conversation in the advertising world given that it's exclusively designed with a gaming console in mind? Do you think Sony could soon offer other VR entertainment experiences on the PS4?

It does not yet to my knowledge but it absolutely should.

The Magnify Conference, sponsored by Air New Zealand, runs on Thursday and Friday at the Idea Collective as a part of Techweek Auckland.