Media and the Power of Immersive Experience

[ih-mur-zhuh n, -shuh n]
1. an act or instance of immersing.
2. the state of being immersed.
3. the state of being deeply engaged or involved; absorption.

The term immersive means to be so interested in something that one’s consciousness begins to be directed towards only what one is reading, watching or listening to. In other words, when one is no longer being informed or entertained, but actually slips into a reality that was created. Immersion, as Georgia Tech digital media professor Janet Murray observed in her book Hamlet on the Holodeck (Free Press, 1997), is to be “surrounded by a completely other reality, as different as water is from air.”

Marketers who understand the potential of immersive stories have a considerable edge over those who try to connect with their audience in less advanced ways. But how can strategists and marketers use this tool to their advantage? How can they learn not only to immerse people but engage them as well?

Studies suggest that stories, whether written, acted out or viewed on a screen, provide a cue of real-life events and interactions. MRIs revealed that when subjects read about picking up a workbook, they experienced activity in regions of the brain that are associated with grasping motions. Stories demand that readers project themselves into the represented events in order to understand what’s going on. These stories also have turned out to be extraordinarily effective at altering attitudes and beliefs, which could prove to be very useful when advertisers want consumers to believe and have a positive attitude about a product or service.

Promotional messages, whether for a cause or brand, automatically invite scrutiny. They prompt consumers to put their guard up. Stories are different; not only do they encourage people to identify with the characters but, by immersing the consumer, they leave the audience predisposed to accept their idea or product.

So next time you’re at the drawing board, think about immersing your audience into a world they can’t resist to love. From that, your brand will successfully infiltrate the mind of the consumer and positively affect them.


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