Is 360 Video the Marketing Wave of the Future? These Brands Think So

What is 360 video — and how is it going to revolutionize the world of marketing? 360 video is a revolutionary new video platform that creates a sense of heightened, augmented reality. Through 360 video, viewers can be put inside of a scene for the first time, free to look around and customize their brand experience. And though it may sound incredibly futuristic, 360 video isn’t some kind of distant technology. Advertisers are using 360 video right now to develop compelling and unique advertising campaigns.


The 360 Primer: How Does 360 Video Work?

360 video is shot from a central point, with a variety of recording devices pointing out in all directions. When the video is viewed, the user is then stationed “within” the video and can look around freely just as the camera recorded. In a commercial or entertainment video, the viewer is thus able to focus on anything they desire. They become the director of their own viewing experience. 360 videos today also incorporate a variety of virtual reality techniques, such as sending the viewer on a type of “on the rails” rollercoaster ride. A 360 video, for instance, can loop until a user chooses to progress, and allow the user to decide which direction they want to progress in. This creates an entirely interactive story-telling element that can reside somewhat between a commercial and a game.


What Are the Benefits of 360 Video?

Savvy consumers tend to shut out advertising entirely. Commercials fade into the background and marketing is looked at with a skeptical world-weariness. Not only does 360 video bring back an excitement in the viewer, but it also forces a certain level of engagement. And as marketers know, the more engaged a person is in something, the more they will develop a relationship with the brand. By forcing engagement a 360 video demands attention from the viewer. Rather than just seeing an advertisement and filtering it out, the viewer becomes a part of the experience, and thus crafts new memories that go along with that experience. This is incredibly valuable, as it allows a marketer to create a more intimate bond with their viewer.


Who Is Using 360 Video?

360 video needs to be broadcasted the appropriate way to a device. Consequently, it is mostly being bolstered by major content providers such as YouTube and Facebook. While 360 video is best viewed on a virtual reality device (such as the Oculus Rift), it can also be viewed on an ordinary screen; the viewer can simply “look” around and interact with their keyboard and mouse. There are many brands that are currently using 360 video to create compelling, engaging advertising:

  • The Hunger Games movie offers a virtual reality experience. Movies are uniquely poised to take advantage of the advertising advantages that 360 video can provide. The Hunger Games advertisement provides an immersive experience designed to showcase the world within the movie. But more importantly, the movie trailer was also viewed by those who were specifically looking for the movie — in other words, consumers opted into this advertising.


  • The White House reaches out during the holidays. Marketing isn’t all about selling a product — sometimes it’s about press management, too. The White House created a fun and engaging 360 Holiday Tour as a way to reach out to American citizens in a more personal, less formal way.


  • AT&T creates an immersive driving experience (Facebook). 360 videos don’t need to be about the product. In fact, they offer the opportunity for brands to become content providers. AT&T has achieved enough brand saturation throughout its markets that it doesn’t need to advertise directly. Instead it can maintain its relationship with its customer demographics by providing unique and interesting content.


What Are the Future Applications for 360 Video?

As virtual reality devices become more commonplace, it’s likely that 360 videos will begin developing more virtual reality features — though there is already a significant cross-section of videos that feature both. 360 videos will also likely start seeing more widespread adoption as more platforms support it. Today the most major repository of 360 video is YouTube, so the vast majority of advertising occurs through their platform. But in just a few years, 360 videos may be supported on a modern browser or even television set.


But there’s more. Advertisers are still exploring applications for 360 video and there may soon be full movie experiences similar to IMAX movies, or 360 television sets similar to the 3D television sets that have proliferated today. Imagine a future in which viewers can look towards a drink in an actor’s hand, the dress they are wearing, or the vehicle they are driving — and immediately be allowed to get information regarding the product. And in 360 video, advertisers can also track the amount of time spent looking at certain items in order to engage product interest and the effectiveness of their advertising. Data mining blended with 360 video services can be used to more effectively predict consumer behavior while also increasing engagement.

360 video represents one of the newest and most exciting media opportunities for those within the advertising industry. Backed by behemoth companies such as Facebook and YouTube, 360 video will rapidly become more popular and powerful. Augmented reality and virtual reality are both being explored, but 360 video is also able to cross platforms into modern devices, and this is what makes it more uniquely important. Through 360 video, advertisers will be able to significantly increase the engagement of their customers while also delivering them the unique content experiences that they desire. Advertising can thus cross the boundary towards truly entertaining and valuable material rather than being potentially intrusive to viewers. Viewers have proven to better tolerate and even seek out experiences that they know are advertising if there is such a value proposition.


Article by Joe Forte, co-owner and producer at D-Mak Productions, a professional video production company based in Phoenix, Arizona.