With the huge growth in investment and interest in virtual reality, it’s only natural that brands want to be part of the action. But while 360 content is everywhere right now, it’s really not as new as you might think.
In fact, Unruly ran its first 360 video campaign way back in 2011, when pioneering brand Doritos formed an unorthodox partnership with UK rapper Professor Green.
The campaign performance was impressive, with the share rate double that of the global benchmark for food and beverage video content.
Fast forward to 2016 and the story is very familiar. Engagement on one of our most recent 360 campaigns for Kia saw a share rate double the sector benchmark, while a completion rate of over 80% meant people were truly sticking around.
The 360 spot ‘Braking news’ put viewers in the passenger seat of the Kia Sportage, and took them on an exhilarating stunt drive ride with actor Nat Ho and DJ Simone Herg. The ad clicked with petrolheads everywhere and perfectly suited the autos trend of ‘drive-along’ product videos.
It’s not difficult to imagine the emotional and social reasons why people want to share 360 videos. Once Facebook launched 360 in June it became part of the fabric of our mobile media experience, and offered a new experience that people could easily share with friends.
Snapchat has also just joined the action this week with the initial roll-out of its own 360 ad offering, meaning users will soon be adjusting to this immersive video format on more than just Facebook and YouTube.
Simply put, in the age of attention scarcity and content shock, the immersive nature of VR and 360 video gives advertisers the perfect opportunity to engage audiences in a new and exciting way.
A recent study by research company Greenlight VR revealed that 71% consumers feel that VR makes a brand appear “forward-thinking and modern.”, while 53% of respondents reported increased purchase intent towards brands using VR.
So, as these tandem technologies continue to become some of the biggest trends in video advertising this year, we thought we’d take a look at the current state of play.
Who’s making waves in 2016?
A number of activities lend themselves instantly to 360 video, particularly things that the average person wouldn’t normally get to experience. Brewing-behemoth Coors tapped into this with a series of ads, launched in May, that put viewers in the seats of various extreme sports scenarios; from surfing the world’s biggest waves to hurtling downhill on a mountain bike.
However, 360 ads aren’t all adrenaline and wet-suits. In fact, one of the year’s most interesting virtual reality endeavours was considerably more subdued. Starring Nicole Kidman as herself, the ‘Reimagine’ spot from Etihad (the UAE national airline) shows off all the luxuries available to its passengers in an engrossing experience that simulates flying with the company. Kidman overhears conversations, interact with other passengers, and there’s even a falcon.
What’s the opportunity for publishers?
If brands can create compelling content that viewers want to watch and share, rather than avoid, then 360 video could well help publishers increase online attention and brand loyalty.
There is also already tremendous editorial opportunities for publishers. In November 2015 The New York Times sent over 1 million VR cardboard kits to subscribers, and released a VR app alongside their first editorial project ‘Displaced’ – a short film which allowed subscribers to experience the harrowing journeys of child refugees.
Plenty of other publishers have been experimenting with 360 too, especially as the power, popularity and accessibility of video content continues to grow.
For wildlife and travel publications like National Geographic, the new medium is a perfect fit for showing off the natural wonders of the Earth. So far the magazine has released a variety of 360 interactive experiences, including a walk through Yellowstone wildlife park and a journey over Victoria Falls.
Rather than taking readers on a journalistic journey through words, publishers now have the opportunity to take users on visual journey more intimate and personal than regular video.
But before publishers and advertisers leap into 360 action, whether it’s a short-form social video or a longer ‘experiential’ piece of content, there are a couple of things worth bearing in mind:
1. Filming 360 content requires a new approach
Shooting video in 360 degrees is challenging, and there’s a couple of totally new practical things you should remember before you embark on your exciting new creative journey. One of the downsides of 360 is that it can be hard to control visual continuity, as your audience isn’t looking through the ‘window’ of traditional film-making, meaning large parts of your story could be missed.
You can combat this by really thinking about what you want your viewers to be seeing around them at all times, and how these different angles can cohesively come together.
2. Align your product or brand with the experience
The urge to be one of the first brands to really conquer and VR and 360 is understandably strong, but it’s worth remembering you should still be aiming to positively affect brand metrics like recall and favorability. This means your campaign needs to align with your brand’s perceived values, as 76% of viewers lost trust if an ad feels fake, according to our recent Future Video Survey).
This means producing experiences and content that is in character with your past advertising activities.
3. Set appropriate goals
Finally, it’s worth remembering that while 360 and VR are shiny new technologies with a lot of potential, they aren’t necessarily right for every campaign and every brand. Consider the benefits of these formats carefully, and ask yourself if there are any other ways you could give viewers more control over their ad experiences.
If you want to learn how Unruly delivered wow for Kia in a recent 360 video campaign you download a case study below: