There’s no disputing that 360 video is providing brands with the opportunity to create exciting and immersive brand experiences. With Facebook, YouTube and most recently, Twitter all now offering 360 video distribution, mass reach though social channels is now a (virtual) reality.
When used correctly, 360 video can play a role in strengthening overall campaign view-through rates and engagement levels in social channels, but used incorrectly it risks becoming a distraction and a poor use of time and resources. Many early attempts by brands to use 360 video have lacked a clear and compelling brand story, the novelty of the 360 format itself often being the most interesting part of the experience. There is however an answer to this challenge.
Why ad agencies should think about 360 video in their media plans
Having conducted our own 360 video research, essentially studying people of all ages viewing 360 video on mobile, often for the first time, it’s clear that being able to explore video content is a genuinely exciting and captivating experience. It’s easy to mistake this initial response to 360 video for an exciting and engaging brand experience, when all-too-frequently it’s an exciting new video format experience. By asking participants to describe what they had just watched and which brand was involved, the issues surfaced very quickly. Responses were often vague or worse still ‘I don’t know’. Without naming names, the worst offenders were half thought through executions seemingly conceived in media agency back rooms.
The reasons for these failures aren’t hard to define, most early branded attempts at utilising 360 video are guilty of one the following communication issues. Either the brand role and creative idea are missing entirely, or they are simply too weak to amplify viewers’ excitement and engagement levels beyond that generated by the newness of the 360 video format itself. To paraphrase Jeff Goldblum’s character in Jurassic Park, many brands are guilty of being preoccupied with whether they could, rather than stopping to think thinking why (and as importantly, how) they should.
Exceptional consumer communication has always required robust thinking, failure to apply the same levels of strategic and creative rigour to 360 video development will yield predictably poor results. In the immediate-term, that means the brand message being eclipsed by the novelty of the format itself, then as the novelty subsides over the coming months, it will mean being ignored completely.
These aren’t new or unfamiliar challenges for marketers, strategists or creatives providing they’re adept at crafting effective campaigns for social channels. The strategic and creative skills and experience required to create compelling video content that thrives in social channels must also be applied to 360 video, whether it’s a standalone execution or as part of a wider campaign.
At Scorch London we’ve worked hard to develop our own strategic and creative approach to defining immersive 360 video brand experiences. Our approach centres on the principles we’ve proven to be critical to the success of social video and overlays these with a detailed understanding of the motivations and desired actions of the viewer during their experience. In essence, our approach to developing 360 video is to define a strong campaign idea through the lens of virtual reality.
The real opportunity for brands therefore lies in identifying how 360 video can open up a frontier of new and relevant brand experiences for consumers. The brands that succeed will apply the best of what they’ve learnt about social video development with a detailed understanding of the principles underpinning the emerging field of virtual reality. The marketers behind these successes will be those that ensure their agency partners have the necessary social video credentials to enable them to clearly define how 360 video can and should play a role in answering their brand’s strategic challenges.