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VR and 360 degree represents the next content revolution for video advertising

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Creating compelling advertising content which resonates with users and generates an impact has never been easy. Some brands like John Lewis, Evian and Coca Cola make it look effortless, with timeless advertising that appeals to a wide range of audiences. For others it hasn’t quite been so simple, and as users become more ad-savvy and critical of traditional advertising, brands are seeking out new ways to create content which is genuinely engaging and offers users value for their time and attention.

360o video and Virtual Reality have truly come into their own this year, with a huge presence at all large marketing events – the latest being at dmexco, where Samsung’s CMO Marc Mathieu took to the stage to discuss Samsung’s VR Studio which opened in January. These channels, which are beginning to mature, could offer brands the platform they need to deliver users a valuable experience.

To build brand loyalty today, advertisers must offer something more to the consumer, and immersive, tangible 360o content is a solution which is becoming more widely available to creatives. By leveraging brand partnerships to essentially bring users to the centre of a concert crowd, the tunnel before a Manchester City game, or even the site of a remote village in Ethopia, brands can solidify their voice and establish much more fully what they stand for. Outstanding implementation of 360o and VR will not only make users sit back and think ‘wow’ but will truly convey a sense of the brand’s identity. The challenge will be recruiting creatives who have the vision and the expertise to develop advertising which truly delivers an unforgettable experience.

A sure sign of a technology revolution is wide adoption by the average user, not just big budget brands. Up until this year, the cost of 360o cameras was prohibitively restrictive, but the launch of more competitively priced kit like Samsung’s Gear 360 has placed this new technology firmly in the hands of anyone with a passion for video. There are already a host of talented individuals ready to fully exploit this new medium – the first 360o YouTube channel by vlogger Roman Attwood was launched last year.

User generated content is very often the most compelling, and user generated 360o offers a frank window into a vast variety of different lifestyles, cultures and experiences. The more content created by users, the better the calibre of 360o will become, raising standards for brand advertising. Inspiration and talent does not exist in a vacuum- by pushing the boundaries of what can be accomplished and feeding off others’ creativity, a whole new genre of video will emerge, as different to standard video as video today is different from the first silent films.

A difficulty for 360o video on mobile devices, where it feels most intuitive and natural, is data speeds. A 360o video is essentially a video file wrapped in a sphere, the user views the video content from the inside of the sphere and as they move their phone more content is revealed. This means the video needs to be around 10x the quality of a standard ad, making good broadband speeds and a short creative essential. While it is possible to circumvent these difficulties by targeting users who are connected to wifi and using newer devices, it is nonetheless a consideration brands must take when planning their campaigns.

Some commentators have failed to see the potential of 360o and VR, but the importance of these technologies cannot be underestimated. From connecting isolated communities to providing medical training, VR combined with 360o video, has far-reaching long term benefits. For the advertising industry, it has the potential to set a completely new bar for advertising which resonates with users.

We stand on a content revolution for the video advertising industry. The next generation of advertisers and video producers will be VR and 360o specialists, experts in creating advertising in this medium and able to utilise its full potential.


Photo: Samsung was promoting VR storytelling at the 2016 Sundance Film Festival earlier this year. 

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