Potential adopters of virtual reality (VR), or PaVRs for short, are more likely to donate to a charity than non-PaVRs (57% vs 51%), volunteer at a non-profit (43% vs 34%) and contact a government representative (22% vs 16%).
That’s according to Nielsen, which found that this group was also more likely to donate to 129 of 134 charities asked about in a new survey, with supporters of “increased technology access” and “universal primary education” containing the largest percentages of PaVRs across issues (49% and 41% respectively).
“Ever since the revolutionary 360-degree video documentary Clouds Over Sidra debuted and helped drive donations to UNICEF, other non-profit organisations have followed suit,” the measurement giant explained. “From Oxfam to PETA, a wide range of charities have used virtual reality (VR) videos as a way to literally immerse viewers into the cause, tug at their heartstrings and hopefully get them to open their wallets.”
Last year, a Nielsen analysis found that roughly one in four US consumers between 18 and 54 identified themselves as likely to use VR technology in the coming year. To explore the effectiveness of VR as a charity platform, roughly 100 US consumers viewed a 360-degree video in a Samsung Gear VR headset, and roughly 100 consumers viewed a piece of midroll (online advertising that plays in the middle of a video) on a tablet.
The ongoing research has found that 360 video is extremely effective at communicating charity brands to consumers, as over four in five consumers (84%) were able to recall the featured charity across the content tested, significantly more than were able to recall the brand from traditional ad pods (53%). Across brand impact measures, the VR content influenced a broader set of the exposed population, from familiarity (45% vs 34%) to affinity (36% vs 25%) to info-seeking (48% vs 37%).
Nielsen research found that nearly half of consumers who viewed the VR content were likely to donate afterward (48%), compared with just over one-third for more traditional units (38%). The most affected metric was recommendation intent, as over half (51%) increased their likelihood to recommend the featured charity after viewing it in VR, compared with only 42% for midroll.
Beyond surveying consumers for content experience and brand attitudes, each participant was also given $20 in artificial currency that they could choose to donate to a preset mix of charities. VR content motivated larger donations than traditional advertising for 10 of the 12 experiences where this exercise was included in the study, with VR driving as much as three times the dollar value driven by traditional advertising.
“On the one hand, some may find it surprising that such an immersive experience doesn’t beat a flat comparison 100% of the time; however, it’s important to remember that VR is still in an embryonic stage as a medium, so to already see such strong performance from VR relative to more traditional ad formats is an encouraging sign for the pioneers making content today," said Harry Brisson, director of lab research at Nielsen.
“With continued research and improvement, these experiences will only continue to improve, benefiting consumers, creators, and the charities they support.”
In addition to being effective overall, charity-centered VR content was also more effective at driving attitudinal impact than advertiser-centred VR content. For example, charity VR content drove a 30% greater information-seeking intent increase relative to midroll, nearly three times the “return on immersion” seen by advertisers. Charity content was also slightly more likely to pique consumer interest in viewing more content, a potential explanation for the enhanced effectiveness observed.
Last year, a Nielsen analysis found that roughly one in four US consumers between 18 and 54 identified themselves as likely to use VR technology in the coming year.