Since YouTube’s launch of 360-degree video capability in March of last year, immersive 360 video marketing has been almost impossible to miss across social medias. Despite 360-video still rather finding it’s feet in the marketing world, as with other recent innovative steps in video production timing has been the key the 360-degree boom. Not only has 360 and spherical film technology only recently become realistically affordable to content creators but only lately have audiences had the widespread means to view these videos on the go and without chunky, unflattering headgear.
So, how easy is it for businesses to use this new, intimate technology to add a new insight to the face of their company? 360-degree video cameras have recently broken through on almost every price range of the market, with devices ranging from the affordable, personal-use orientated Ricoh Theta S to the 4K, 60FPS professional grade Sphericams pricing upwards of $2000. As the technology progresses so are the content creators, with every video creator and publisher looking to get a foot through the door of the exploding VR market. Though many have tried, the key to successful 360-degree video marketing appears as ever to remain in a simple clean-cut approach that only a few creators have managed to achieve.
Who has it worked for?
The first 360 marketing video that many consumers saw on social media was the spectacular Star Wars dune-racing video posted by the franchise’s Facebook page 10 months ago, featuring epic other-worldly landscapes and a CG mock-blindspot beneath the viewer to emulate the live action 360 style. The video made a huge impact, garnering 7.3 million views, almost 250,000 shares and over 100,000 miscellaneous public interactions making it the franchise’s widest reaching social media interaction since the announcement of the seventh film.
Since the success of innovative early VR campaigns like Star Wars, other companies have experimented with immersive, genre-pushing marketing concepts like GoPro’s GoPro VR: Skydiving with GoPro Bombsquad, featuring a group skydive filmed with GoPro’s new VR technology. The video, available in 4K on Youtube, not only features JT Holmes’ Team’s flight but also showcases both GoPro’s 4 camera VR setup, pushing their brand further towards the professional market, and their stitching software GoPro Studio, a necessary software add-on to the new product. The campaign seems to have been a worthy investment, with over 1.2 million views on Youtube and with at least one 4K 360-degree extreme sports video released every few days in the last several months.
For-profit companies are by no means the only to have cashed in on the 360 trend. Vice video in partnership with Samsung VR have begun a series of short interactive 360-degree videos depicting impoverished 3rd world conditions. The series, entitled ‘VICELAND: Beyond the frame’, encourages watchers to ‘experience the world through someone else’s eyes’ and to better understand the plight of the film’s subjects by placing the viewer directly in their world in a way traditional film fails to.
In March the series released a video mission statement titled ‘Beyond the Frame: Storytelling in Virtual Reality’ explaining what they as a group see as the exciting possibilities for charitable and social activism video making via VR means. Citing that VR stands as ‘the first time in our lifetimes that a new medium is born’, the potential for intimate storytelling that is as personal as if the subject were talking directly to you has massive implications for emotive filmmaking, potentially revolutionizing charity filmmaking.
One of the biggest players in the 360 field however has been the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) sector, where 360-degree videos showing workplaces and large-scale engineering projects have become an excellent tool for public relations and as an informative medium.
The highest profile example of STEM’s hold on the market is the BBC News showcase of Cern’s Large Hardon Collider. The video serves as a walking guide to some of the engineering that has gone creating conditions for accelerating particles, an experience usually reserved to those with the time to visit the collider in person. This not only provides potential for the lucrative amateur-scientist tourist trade that the collider offers, but also provides exciting exclusive insights for budding scientists looking to work at the facility.
Other excellent examples lie in bio-science conservation projects like Conservation International’s video Valen’s Reef where the viewer is given a 360 tour of the depleting Indonesian reef. Videos like this provide incomparable insights for not only the scientific community’s contribution, but also provide potential for emotive public funding for conservation projects by showing the viewer an immersive illustration of what exactly is at risk without their support.
When properly used, the fledgling world of 360-degree video is undeniably full of potential for marketing in every sector. Through new professional spherical video equipment on both the creator and consumer end, glossy, high resolution film is only now becoming available for an affordable marketing budget. Through proper development and a continuation of production by successful creators like those mentioned, 360-degree videos have the potential to push past boundaries in both film-making and marketing that traditional, 2-dimensional film create. Whatever direction spherical film takes, it is guaranteed to be fresh, thoughtful and unlike anything we’ve seen before.