I am sitting here on a Friday at 4.23PM in…
In a previous article, I mentioned a Facebook post from Star Wars’ official account featuring a 360-degree experience created by IML, LucasFilm’s visual effects division. In the video, viewers could ride through the Jakku desert on a land speeder while turning the camera around to view what was going on around them. This type of technology has been around for a while, but now companies are using it to conduct marketing initiatives. Facebook is making this possible by working with brands to create 360-degree advertisements and videos for Android and Apple apps, desktop sites, and other mobile devices. In order to facilitate the creation of 360-degree videos, Facebook provides brands an educational website to help them learn the basics of 360-degree video production as well as editing tools to create such videos. Samsung is also contributing to the 360-degree movement. The electronics company has developed a VR virtual-reality headset that makes the viewing experience of these videos even more interactive.
Since the 360-degree movement is still in its infancy, the Star Wars 360-degree experience does have some issues. For example, when viewed on a desktop monitor the viewing experience is not as involving as it on mobile devices, where the viewer really feels as if they are on the land speeder in the middle of an unknown desert. That’s because it’s harder to direct the camera movement on a desktop as smoothly as it is on a an hand-held mobile device where the video is literally at the viewer’s fingertips. Another issue comes with the possibility that a 360-degree video may distract the audience from the message of the ad. When viewing advertisements on TV, in magazines, or any other small, 2-D experience, the consumer knows exactly what the ad focus is and where to focus their attention on because the direction of the camera guides them through the ad. However, with a 360-degree advertisement, because the user can choose which part of the video to focus on, they may miss the key part of the advertisement because they are focusing on details that do not contribute to nor give them a real sense of the experience. For some 360-degree ads, the header and tagline for the ad stays in one spot only can thus be missed if the camera is not properly adjusted, causing the user to scroll aimlessly until they find it. The digital experience should be seamless and easy to use and most 360-degree experiences are missing the mark.
However, if proper study is given to the creation of a 360-degree video, a brand may obtain astonishing results. Examples of this come from Anheuser-Busch, Nestle, and Disney.
- In this experience, Corona allowed viewers to follow Mexican soccer teams through the tunnel and onto the field, and then sit in the stands with passionate fans. This is a great way to embed fans, especially for those who can’t make it to a professional soccer game, into the player experience. The one criticism that I do have is that in the tunnel sequence, certain elements are missing. For example, part of the girl’s face disappears as she holds the flag over the viewer’s head. Nonetheless, this concept works well overall for any sport-related ad because of it creates a deep connection with the audience by making them part of the sport the event under different point of view, from the player’s to the fans’.
- Through this ad, Nestle wanted to promote Nescafe coffee through the art of music. People from around the world sing along Madcon’s “Don’t Worry” while using traditional instruments, as well as kitchenware. This is one of the best examples of 360-degree advertisements that I have seen. One of the reasons behind it is that it gives the viewer something meaningful to look at no matter where they point the cursor. There’s a different video at every angle and elements on both the “ceiling” and the “ground.” If the viewer looks at the ceiling, that’s okay because there’s a guy in a hammock, singing along. If they point at the “ground”, there’s a Nescafe cup of coffee in the middle of the table.
- In this video, Disney allows viewers to explore various attractions in its four parks through a 360-degree virtual tour guided by Goofy. The biggest strength of this video is in its guided narration. The viewer knows where he is supposed to be looking at based on the narration, but they are also allowed to explore the surrounding areas and shift away from the main focus of the video. This works very well especially in the ride sequences, where the viewer can look around just like they would if they were on the ride.
Advances in technology constantly create new ways to immerse consumers in new marketing experiences. However, despite these advances, it’s not always necessary to implement new technologies. As the videos above show, 360-degree advertising is the new trend of the moment, but it works the best when it’s really thought out and fits the goal companies want to accomplish with it, whether that is making the consumer create a personal connection with a crowd at a stadium, people from all around the world while they are having breakfast in their own homes, or a tour guide at an amusement park.