Opening Up The Potential of 360° Video For Advertising

In a world where viewers can simply block, skip and change the video they are watching, active media – such as virtual reality (VR), augmented reality (AR) and 360° video – can be a powerful way for brands to captivate viewers and stand out amongst the thousands of ads consumers are exposed to each day online due to its interactive capabilities. However, advertisers are not yet widely adopting this next-generation of media into their campaigns.

VR is a nascent industry and is expected to grow even more, with companies such as Goldman Sachs projecting VR alone to be bigger than TV within the next decade, generating $110 US billion in revenue.

While “true” VR gains momentum, 360° video has been able to bridge the gap between 2D video and VR, providing a way for brands to interact and engage with consumers on any device by encouraging them take control, look around and discover more. There is an opportunity to tell much deeper brand stories than standard video by turning a passive viewing into an active one. It is therefore no surprise that 360° video also delivers strong results compared to standard video when used in advertising campaigns. Google research shows that 360° video contributes to a 5X higher click-through rate, and more repeat views (because viewers can have a different experience each time they watch).

VR is a nascent industry and is expected to grow even more, with companies such as Goldman Sachs projecting VR alone to be bigger than TV within the next decade, generating $110 US billion in revenue.

Despite the value 360° video offers for marketers, we still are not seeing widespread use. So, what’s stopping all marketers, big and small, from incorporating the medium into the marketing mix?

In my view, there are two reasons as to why 360° video has not been fully adopted by marketers: a lack of access to affordable and accessible content and the availability of cost-effective and simple tools that allow marketers to create with the medium and publish campaigns easily.

Typically, in order to create and publish a 360° video campaign, the user would have to purchase, and be skilled in using, a professional editing package that allows them to add 2D branded elements such as logos and text on top of the 360° video. With the addition of complicated coding systems, most editing software also doesn’t allow interactive elements to be added or exported and published easily to web pages or social media – an increasing necessity in today’s fast paced, multi-platform media world. This makes creating campaigns with 360° video both costly and complex.

Looking ahead, access to content and flexible tools to create and make 360° video more rewarding are key. The use of WebVR is integral to making this possible, by breaking down the barriers for consumers. Making content available via a web link means consumers don’t have to download an app to watch a 360° experience and can access it from any platform – whether a desktop browser or mobile device. This form of distribution allows for users to engage with interactive elements such as in-line video, hotspots and scene to scene transactions which further heighten the reward benefits.

Examples of WebVR in action include Google and LCD Soundsystem’s “Dance Tonite” project, which allowed viewers to upload themselves dancing to the song on both desktop and mobile devices. Their movements were then translated into cylinders and cones that could be experienced from different dancer’s viewpoints by clicking on them.

However, there’s still more work to be done to create more of these types of campaigns. For 360° video content to continue growing and become more visible in everyday life, marketers need to be able to seamlessly create, edit and publish campaigns.

Blend Media has been working to address this with its 360-degree tool, 360 stories. An example, is a campaign Blend Media created for HelloWorld, the live event for social media stars. Our production team, equipped with 360° cameras, filmed a camper van full of YouTube stars to create a video promoting the event. The video allows the user to look around and follow the discussion from different angles. It also includes a call to action by including links which take the viewer to each of the YouTube stars’ pages for further information when clicked. Such campaigns show the potential to use the 360° video medium creatively to build a deeper experience for viewers.

As 360° video and other immersive video technologies grow and become mainstream, more brands will see the potential to create deeper brand stories. However, for this to happen, brands need to have access to the content and technology that helps them create with the medium more easily. Once this is addressed, we will see more marketers taking advantage of the benefits to develop meaningful campaigns that deliver cut-through online and strong return on investment.

Chris Helm

Chris Helm

Co-founder and COO at Blend Media
Chris Helm

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