Immersive marketing for the construction industry

Immersive marketing is bringing BIM to life and engaging audiences in new and exciting ways.

BIM is now being widely adopted across the construction industry as an effective means of communicating and transferring detailed information accurately along a project timeline. It’s a demonstration of how technology is evolving to help us work better and smarter…but can we edge the boundaries even further?

Usually the answer to this sort of question would be ‘yes’ but the next steps aren’t properly understood yet. Or, ‘yes’, but it would need some hefty investment. Maybe it would just be better to get our heads fully around the complexities and opportunities of BIM first, before we start heading down any other routes. Right?

I’d argue that, because the answer is ‘yes’, we can edge the boundaries. The next steps are understood, completely affordable and are capable of pushing your project, products and ideas into a completely different world.

The term immersive marketing is getting a fair amount of air time at the moment, it is about engaging your audience in your products or services in a captivating and memorable way. It might be touch tables, 360 videos or social media walls at an event. Or, by making use of the opportunities presented through CAD modelling or BIM, allowing your customers to step into another world by experiencing your work through augmented or virtual reality.

Augmented reality (AR) became big news in 2016 when Pokémon Go hit the headlines. At around the same time my business, Exhibit Interactive (ei) was just rolling out its first AR sample. We’d taken a CAD model of a water valve, recreated it in 3D and by using our own ‘Captivate’ app, users could hold their tablet or smartphone over a ‘marker’ and magically see the water valve appear in front of them. The most common response was ‘Wow!’.

Water valves might not float everyone’s boat, but that initial sample demonstrated what was possible and by thinking creatively about what markers can be printed on – drinks coasters, business cards, coffee mugs, key fobs, it’s easy to see how the augmented reality world can become extremely accessible.

Virtual reality (VR) has also grown enormously in popularity over the past 12 months alone, with headsets featuring on a great many recent Christmas lists. Again by using the output generated through CAD or BIM and readily available hardware, your project can be experienced in a virtual world before the turf has even been cut.

The decision over whether AR or VR is the more appropriate tech for your project comes down to what the product is and what you want your audience to experience. AR and VR in themselves offer amazing tech experiences and could potentially be applied to almost any situation in every day life. The industry isn’t quite there with that one yet, but the opportunity they present for the construction industry – and for marketers working in this sector, is that this is new.

Relatively few developers are using this technology at the moment as a means of bringing their plans and models to life. We’ve all seen countless CGIs, static models and don’t get me started on over production of printed marketing literature. These materials give a reasonable visual idea of what an architect or developer has in mind, but they don’t immerse the audience.

Marketing methods are evolving all the time and I’ve seen a great many innovations during my 20 years in the events industry, but I’ve never experienced anything which generates the captivation that immersive marketing technology can achieve. It’s incredibly affordable, easy to develop and enables BIM to be used far beyond its primary purpose.


Joe Ashton, Creative Director, Exhibit Interactive

Joe Ashton is Creative Director of Exhibit interactive an Interactive Agency specialising in solutions for the construction Industry.  On the 23rd March he will be discussing Immersive Marketing and demonstrating uses for the construction industry at a CPD seminar run by CIMCIG the Chartered Institute of Marketing Construction Industry Group, further details and booking instructions are available here:  <<>>