Why 360° Immersive Content is Your Best Investment in the Next 5 Years
(Updated October 31, 2018)
You've probably heard a bit about 360° and VR content, and how it's revolutionizing how we communicate and understand our world of experiences. (And VR is more than just futuristic headsets.)
This article will:
Explore the many fields in which brands are using VR content and 360° photos to distinguish themselves.
Demonstrate the longevity of VR and 360°.
VR Content and 360° Photo Basics
Interactive content, like 360° immersive media, is widely applicable, versatile, and extremely successful. From interactive ads to promotional brand videos (like the one Columbia Sportswear created), immersive media is changing the way people engage online and relate to the world around them.
What is 360° and VR Content?
360° content is similar to the traditional photo and video media we’re all familiar with. The primary difference is that instead of limiting your view to the frame of your desktop or mobile screen, 360° content allows participants to explore an immersive 360° space at their own pace.
The difference between VR and 360?
360° content is like sitting in the seat of a race car. You can look in any direction at what’s going on around you (from a fixed POV), and click on objects and interact with other media forms embedded into the 360° space. With VR, your perspective isn’t always fixed, and VR experiences are often viewed & interacted with using a VR headset where you can walk around inside the world.
360° photos, graphics, and videos can be viewed using a VR headset but are, more readily, experienced on desktop and mobile phones. Terminology aside, both VR and 360° media are changing the nature of digital interaction and both are seeing incredible applications in marketing experiences.
Who is Using 360° content?
Currently, 360° virtual tours are most popular in real estate, for local businesses, museums, art spaces, and public spaces. (And many businesses are on Google Street View via 360° tours.) There are many other fields out there awaiting the Midas touch of 360. How will you incorporate VR and 360° media into your brand or personal aesthetic?
Why Use 360° and VR content?
Consider using this kind of content if you want to truly stand out. A business chooses this type of media because they value the direct engagement they can get with their market via 360° interactive content. As both a tool and an art form, 360° content increases brand transparency, integrates with social media campaigns, and bolsters content marketing campaigns. Plus, per the nature of being immersive, 360° and VR content educate audiences, encourage participation, and give people new experiences online.
Note: A primary advantage 360s have over VR is accessibility. While VR headsets can deliver more compelling experiences, people’s interactions with VR headsets are currently limited by the cost of headsets and the intensity of these VR experiences. With 360s, people can be similarly engaged with a new depth of space on their devices from the comfort of their armchair at home.
360° photos (and videos) work great and integrate seamlessly into:
social media campaigns,
your content marketing strategy,
new media marketing campaigns,
and as part of a typical content mix.
360° photos offer a chance for unprecedented originality. From brand activations via designed 360° spaces to immersive photo advertisements in 360°, the possibilities here are as imaginative as the creative studio you work with.
For example, we attended Durhams' Moogfest earlier this year and created dynamic 360° interview and live-performance pieces. We did the same for Beats N Bars hip-hop festival in Durham, too. And for Hopscotch the year before.
Social Media Marketing Campaigns
There is a lot of clutter on social media. More than ever, businesses and artists need to create unique content to cut through the noise. 360 content offers a great opportunity to achieve incisive results.
Interactive advertising (via 360) is more successful than passive, 2D ads, in terms of reach, clicks, engagement, and the ability to drive ticket sales to events.
For an example of what this looks like, a Beaumonde hip-hop event client saw +800% increase in organic sharing on Facebook with the 360° event flyer we created for them.
As it stands right now, 360° interactive content works best with Facebook and Twitter. Both platforms support 360° photos, 360° videos, 360° live stream, and 360° advertisements. (Instagram doesn't natively support 360s yet, but you can integrate 360 content into Stories advertising.)
This is great news for marketers looking to reinvigorate their ad campaigns, get more for the same ad-spend, and to start conversations with audiences.
P.S., 360° media drops jaws on mobile. In comparison to traditional content, mobile click-throughs are going as high as +1300% for 360° content (Source: Omnivirt).
360° Ads & VR Content Marketing
I read in a LinkedIn article recently that “belief-driven” consumers are on the rise. That people are increasingly interested in brands with transparent stances on sociopolitical issues, making a stand for what they believe in via their marketing campaigns, advertisements, and brand decision-making as a whole. Patagonia is a great example of one such brand. So is Lush.
With 360 degrees of movement at the fingertips of expert creative marketers, brands can display their ethical underpinnings more clearly and allow people to get closer to the heart of their messaging. Brands can accomplish this a number of ways, one being 360° ads. Numerous studies have been conducted to see how people interact with 360° ads versus 2D ads. On the whole, 360° ads outperform 2D ads every time.
We ran a 360° photo ad on Facebook for Ambleside Art Gallery (see above) and, compared to a similar 2D ad with the same ad-spend, we saw: 9x Photo Clicks, 1.5x Reach & Post Engagement, and 3.6x Page Likes.
What Makes 360° Photos Unique
360° interactive content offers further possibilities in how we engage with and remember experiences. Like going to hear your favorite hip-hop artist live in concert.
Share-ability for businesses
With so many posts on social media, it is important to be able to share with potential customers the genuine pith of that which is advertised with greater clarity and speed. At the same time, while retaining authenticity.
Interactive media offers a quickness, and clarity, of messaging; while also grabbing people's attention on websites and social media. In turn, proving highly compelling content that people want to share.
According to an Ion Interactive survey, 88% of marketers said that interactive content is effective in differentiating their brand from their competitors.
Additionally, 93% of marketers agreed that interactive content is effective in educating its buyers.
Stand Out from the Crowd
As millennial spending on experiences increases every year, marketing campaigns for these experiences must adapt to stand out from the chattering crowds online.
It’s becoming more important than ever to bridge the in-person experience with what potential fans and customers are seeing online.
360° content seamlessly bridges the gap between the in-person experience and the screen. In fact, when viewing immersive content our brains store these memories in first person. This gives 360° content a leg up on traditional content, resulting in a more memorable experience because of a deeper and naturally more engaging interaction.
What’s this mean for brand-customer relationships? Potential buyer decision-making can be quicker and less fraught with apprehension.
What's in a 360?
Check out this 360° photo we got of two musicians at Moogfest:
Notice the clickable sound-bites over the artists' heads where they introduce themselves? And the music-note icon that lets you play their music directly in the 360?
We also added streamlined integration of captions, hyperlinks, and event information, so that people can more directly access the artists' music alongside sponsor information.
A Hypothetical Case Study
Imagine: a brewery could feature, on their website, and on social media, 360° tours of the farms where their ingredients are sourced, 360° photos or videos of their kitchens, bottling factories, executives offices, sweating employees working hard mashing malt, and more.
Little things like seeing beer being brewed in large copper vats can become a part of peoples' experiences online. In turn, this generates a sense of FOMO and encourages people to come visit the brewery in person.
360° Photos are an Art Form
There is a huge opportunity here for artists. Take a look at this 360° photo we snagged of the sunflower fields at Dorothea Dix park in Raleigh, NC. In only four days online, it had almost 33 thousand views on Kuula. (Update: 2 weeks after posting it has over 76k views.)
360s are great for spaces and vistas, for landscapes, for cafés, for skylines, and even showing off art studios.
Maybe it's just me, but I'm surprised that 360° photography isn't being taken as seriously on a larger scale by photographic artists. 360° photos aren't being framed and hung in galleries just yet, but framing a revolving photograph in 360° and letting visitors interact doesn't seem so far fetched. (Harry Potter, anyone!?)
Longevity of VR and 360° content
VR content and 360° photos are not just a fad.
Last year, the global VR/AR content market grew 72%, reaching $3 billion. And according to BusinessInsider.com, "The global VR market is forecast to grow at a nearly 81% compound annual growth rate (CAGR) from 2016 to 2024, according to Global Market Insights.”
In an industry report released by Social Media Examiner, statistics overwhelmingly pointed to the increases in spending and resources on interactive content.
360° interactive content will soon be a common & multi-purpose tool for content marketers, artists, activists, promoters, and many others alike.
This is not about jumping on the bandwagon. This is about exploration and the discovery of something worthwhile. Will 360° media will not be the silver bullet panacea cure-all for your business? Probably not. But it will help you to engage more authentically with your audience, to provide memorable & unique experiences for people, and to increase reach while seeing huge improvements on ROI, CTRs, and more, all for the same amount of ad-spend.
Why This is your Best Investment in the next 5 years
Incorporation of interactive advertising and 360° virtual media into brands already are seeing vast successes.
Event promoters are selling more tickets, people are engaging more authentically online, artists are discovering new ways to express themselves, gaining more fans, and creating beautiful content that converts online.
This is owed in part to the simple nature of 360° content being interactive. For businesses, marketers, and artists alike, this is a great opportunity to try something unique that is low risk and relatively inexpensive.
Interested in getting started with 360° content? We're here to help. Contact us today for a free 15-minute phone consultation.
Andrew Cheek is the Head Writer and Content Coordinator for Beaumonde. He graduated from NC State University and is in process of polishing the manuscript for his children’s novella. With a background in literature and film, and a taste for half-marathons, Andrew’s inspirations range from Virginia Woolf to Wes Anderson to his Adidas running shoes. You can find Andrew on Twitter and LinkedIn.