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360VR Ads: The Bridge to VR Ads

360VR Ads are the bridge to VR ads
In a recent survey of US agency executives done by Vibrant Media, it was discovered that nearly 90% of agencies find virtual reality (VR) compelling as a digital marketing channel. But, despite this positive perception, most haven’t purchased VR ads for their clients. Why? The primary obstacle: reach.

47.6% of Consumers Surveyed Believe VR Ads to be Very Compelling

There’s no denying that the reach for ads in VR isn’t there yet. With less than 2 million VR systems in the market (Oculus Rift, Playstation VR, HTC Vive) it’s hard for any marketer to achieve scale. When you include the volume of mobile VR headsets (Samsung Gear, Google Daydream, Cardboard) the numbers do get better. There’s just shy of 100 million mobile VR headsets in the market globally – 88 mil of which are cardboard. However, of these, it’s believed that a large chunk can be attributed to brands giving them away for promotional purposes. As such, their fate is similar to that of many other tchotchkes… they collect dust. And even though Google indicates there have been 160 million downloads of cardboard apps, many marketers and agencies question how many eyeballs they can truly reach with VR ads. So how can agencies and brands tap into the engaging and immersive power of virtual reality while the world waits for VR headset penetration to reach critical mass? The answer – 360 Virtual Reality ads.

What are 360VR Ads?

Think of it this way – virtually any of those ads you see in apps or on websites can be a 360VR ad. The big difference, of course, between most of the ads you see today and 360VR ads is that the creative of 360VR ads is comprised of 360 degree content. This content can be a 360 video or image or it can be a collection of videos and images that the user can access via interactive hotspots. It can also be a 360 degree environment made using the 2D assets many advertisers have today. 360VR ads can be display (mobile or desktop), video (instream or outstream) as well as native ad units. They can be just about any IAB compliant ad unit size too – billboard, skyscraper, medium rectangle, full page, half page,etc. 360VR ads can also easily convert to VR mode so those folks who do have a cardboard headset can fully immerse themselves if they desire.

More importantly, 360VR ads can be viewed on today’s devices because there’s no need for a VR headset. As long as you’re working with a very advanced and technology adept 360 & VR ad tech vendor, 360VR ads can be viewed on virtually any smartphone (Android and iOS), tablet or desktop either in browser or in app. This is no easy feat – especially when you consider the many obstacles that Apple puts in the way, making 360 video almost impossible to watch on Safari and other mobile browsers. (I say “almost impossible” because some, like Advrtas, have overcome this challenge!). Consequently, with 360VR ads reach is no longer issue.

What are VR Ads?

VR ads, in contrast, are ads that are placed inside of VR games, apps and experiences. We like to call them “in-VR” ads because you see the ad when you’re in VR. The user puts on a VR headset (Rift, Vive, PlaystationVR, Samsung GearVR, Google Daydream) and they are served ads before, during or after their VR experience. Some ads are more intrusive than others. For example, replicating the model that exists in mobile gaming, users can get more lives, power packs, move up a level etc. by watching an ad. Other ad placements are more organic consisting of brand messages or product placements that live in the background or environment of a game or experience. They too are engaging and highly immersive but given today’s VR headset penetration, the reach simply isn’t there.

Digital advertising is changing: virtual reality and augmented reality marketing strategies have matured to a position of true viability so that marketers can offer consumers far more entertaining, compelling and immersive ad campaigns that inspire personal affinities with brands.
Craig Gooding

CEO, Vibrant Media

360VR Ads are the Bridge to Tomorrow’s Ads

360VR ads enable agencies and the brands they represent to tap into the new and compelling marketing channel of VR today! As such, 360VR ads are the bridge to VR ads. They help familiarize the market with 360 and VR content and create a thirst to experience and see more. Furthermore, 360VR ads are also proving to be much more effective than most of the digital ads in the market today. Brands are seeing higher engagement, longer view times, increased brand affinity, content recall, brand recall, dwell time, higher conversions etc.

Armed with the knowledge that 360VR ads are both effective and have reach, it’s only a matter of time before we’ll see more agencies and the brands they represent integrating these engaging ads into their digital marketing campaigns.

Want to learn more about the effectiveness of 360VR ads? Download this FREE 360VR case study.


CES 2017 Insight: Tapping the Potential of Virtual Reality Beyond Cool VR Experiences at Trade Shows

Lion Wearing Virtual Reality Headset

If there was one marked difference between CES 2016 vs 2017 that this attendee noticed as she perused the recent CES show floor, it was the sheer increase in the number and variety of industries’ booths using virtual reality for marketing purposes.

And why not? Aside from the newness factor, virtual reality, and even its cousin, 360 degree content, serve as excellent brand storytelling vehicles. Never before have there been more immersive tools in which to better connect with audiences and demonstrate products. There’s also some of the research behind the technologies that reveal, among other things, that virtual reality has the power to create virtual memories and positive brand associations, that the pair drive engagement and improve brand recall and that the mere use of these platforms puts a brand in a positive light. Furthermore, they increase intent to purchase and can also trigger brain states no other medium up to now has been able to.

If the mere quantity of VR experiences at CES is any indication, big brands from a vast variety of industries recognize this and are embracing the value of VR and 360 content as marketing tools. From automakers and automotive suppliers to tech and service providers, there wasn’t a shortage of VR at CES. Heck, even the MGM Lion was donning a VR headset when you entered the lobby of this Las Vegas Blvd hotel. But I’m here to sound the alarm that they can go further. It’s time that brands, advertisers and publishers alike come to the realization that more can be done with Virtual Reality and 360 degree content than experiential, headset wearing VR experiences at trade shows like the recent CES 2017 or even posting 360 videos to social media channels.

BEYOND CES: LEVERAGING VR & 360 FOR DIGITAL DISPLAY ADVERTISING

The truth is that advertisers and digital publishers alike can leverage 360 degree and virtual reality content for advertising today and they don’t have to wait for a special event, like CES, or VR headset penetration to reach critical mass to do so. That’s because all it takes to enjoy 360 and VR content is a smartphone.

With the volume of smartphones in the global marketplace, this means that a majority of the world’s population already holds in their hands one of the key tools to make VR accessible to all. And while not all smartphone owners have a cardboard or similar headset to experience VR, they do have a display screen and smartphone sensors that open the door to immersive advertising.

Collage of CES 2017

360 & VR AD UNITS EXTEND THE LIFE & ROI OF VR EXPERIENCES

So what does this mean? Quite simply that all those ads you see on websites and apps (banners, skyscrapers, rectangles ads, takeovers – you name it) can now contain 360 degree content that can also be viewed as a virtual reality experience with the simple touch of a finger. So essentially, the content used in VR experiences at trades shows or the 360 videos that dozens of brands are creating and posting to YouTube and Facebook can be turned around and used in digital ad units. The “magic window” that enables consumers to explore 360 degree content (ads included) beyond the traditional frame is available to all.

While the technology to make this happen is relatively new, it exists in the marketplace today, is commercially viable and brings with it tremendous opportunity for those willing to take the first mover advantage. Now marketers can achieve ROI when investing in VR and 360. For example, they can create a VR experience to showcase at an event and then repurpose this content to be used in digital display ad units. Or they can take the 360 video they were planning to post to their Facebook page, add some call to action messaging and use this content for a digital display ad unit that can be shown on mobile, desktop, and tablet in browser or in app. If they feel even more ambitious they can layer in interactivity via hotspots and create a rabbit hole of brand exploration. Or if they don’t have any 360 assets, the 2D assets they presently have can also be leveraged to create a 360 degree ad unit experience. Frankly, the limits to what can be done are only limited by creativity. See some examples in our 360/VR Ad Gallery.

As such, there’s a big opportunity for the first movers when it comes to leveraging 360 degree and VR content today for digital advertising. Whether you’re a digital publisher who’s trying to generate more ad revenue and attract more premium ad dollars or an advertiser looking to find more engaging ways to reach your audience digitally, you have much to gain if you start using virtual reality and 360 content for advertising today.

Every brand that exists should exist in VR.

Adam Harter

VP of Marketing & Cultural Connections, Pepsi

So if 2016 was considered to be the year of virtual reality because it marks when the first VR systems reached the masses, I’d argue that 2017 will be the year that big brands, advertisers and publishers alike wake up and start leveraging VR and its cousin, 360 degree content, as effective advertising tools with great reach. And perhaps next year when walking the CES 2018 floor, instead of seeing cool VR experiences that are limited to the trade show audience, we’ll recall some of the innovative 360 and VR ads some of these big brands delivered to the masses in 2017. As one entrenched in the advertising side of these exciting emerging platforms, I look forward to that day.

#VR4Good

Virtual Reality for Good

As virtual reality is steadily gaining traction, there are those who have embraced it as the next great platform after mobile. They have fully accepted that VR and its relatives, 360 content, AR (augmented reality) and MR (mixed reality), will not only bring about significant changes to digital and brand engagement but also deliver a technological revolution. Yet, there are those who view these evolving technologies and anything related to them with reluctance.

Some have argued that the coming of virtual reality will lead to a whole new set of unethical, dangerous, and maybe even criminal behavior. Though these issues are not to be taken lightly, those of us in VR and its related industries are unfazed. After all, we believe that the good these platforms bring will change the world for the better and thus, will far outweigh the bad. Besides, no matter what innovations come our way, there will always be people with negative intentions. Even the internet – and the ways it has connected people across the globe and has provided us with a wealth of data and information – has been used for bad. But that hasn’t stopped its use or proliferation, has it? Considering that you’re reading this

No matter what innovations come our way, there will always be people with negative intentions.

now via this magical infrastructure we call the internet just goes to show how the good far outweighs the bad and that as has been the case since the beginning of time, good always trumps evil. The same goes for VR and its related technologies and the possibilities they have opened and will open in the future. And with that being said, here are three ways beyond marketing and advertising that the powers of virtual reality and their relative emerging technologies are being used for good.

Medicine & Health

The field of medicine is one industry that stands to make great advancements thanks to technologies like VR, AR and MR. Recently, a study on virtual reality and paraplegics showed the results of a rehabilitation program that contained a series of tests and exercises that involved virtual reality. At the end of the program, paraplegics who completed it were able to gain some sort of feeling in their limbs where formerly there was none. Virtual reality has also given a legally blind man a chance to see – at least while wearing a VR headset. Upon donning a VR device, the man was able to see images and colors in a way that he can never do in real life. There have also been stories coming out of the labs of mixed reality leader Magic Leap revealing that blind people were able to see via their technology.

Virtual Reality has the power to make paraplegics move again & the blind to see.

Other examples of the benefits of VR include aiding in PTSD therapy, helping to lessen the pain experienced by burn victims, and even VR that assisted a doctor to plan a heart surgery that saved a 4 month old baby’s life. The technology can also be used to enhance the study of medicine by allowing scientists to study cells in greater detail. The benefits of virtual reality in the area of medicine are so great that the CEO of Pixacore – a digital agency – said this:

Virtual reality has very rapidly shifted from a promising prototype to a viable platform that the healthcare industry will adopt to better understand the science, communicate diseases and therapy options to patients, train medical and industry professionals, and treat certain psychological disorders

Sanjiv Mody

CEO, Pixacore

Learning

Judging by its potential in the area of medicine, it’s no surprise that VR can also be a game changer when it comes to education. It delivers a whole new element to learning as VR immerses and engages whoever is using it – something a textbook or traditional video can never do. With the power to create virtual memories and improve content recall significantly, imagine how much more effective learning can be if a virtual reality environment serves as a supplement to whatever a student is learning in a textbook.

For example, in this article on “Virtual Reality in the Classroom,” an educator described how one could use VR to study chemistry. Students would be able to immerse themselves in cells (much like the scientists we talked about previously), molecules, etc – allowing them to observe their structure in a whole different level. The educator even mentioned that schools could have a VR chemistry lab instead of a traditional lab. This could prove to be safer and even more cost-efficient. Other examples include learning history where students are actually “transported in time”. With virtual reality, students could feel like they’re truly witnessing a historical event firsthand. It’s an incredibly effective way to reinforce whatever

Virtual Reality in the Classroom with Google Cardboard

they’re learning.

(Read: How educators have been using virtual reality in their curriculums.)

Another application of virtual reality and how it reinforces learning is a program in Indiana that teaches teens the possible consequences of texting while driving. Through this program, the state of Indiana – once the state with the most teen driver fatalities – was able to improve their state ranking and lessen teen driver fatalities. Even the Department of Agriculture is thinking of using the technology as a learning tool to assist with training their food inspectors on what to expect while on the job.

Making the World a Better Place

With the previous examples in mind, it’s suspected that VR also has the potential to make the world a better place. That’s in large part because of its innate ability to create what is called “presence” wherein a user truly feels like they’re physically in a virtual location. This feeling of presence is why VR visionaries like Chris Milk and Nonny de la Pena have called virtual reality the ultimate “empathy machine”. It has the power to stir up emotions and compassion unlike any other medium before. VR can serve as an agent of change as it helps people better relate to global issues, disabilities, diseases and the human condition.

For example, a company in Australia recently released an app where people could virtually walk in the shoes of someone with dementia and thus help people understand how it feels to live life struggling with this challenging disease. This kind of experience can help people be more sympathetic, more compassionate, and more patient with those who have dementia and maybe even show them how they can be of more help. In the same way, Stanford released a study on the effects of virtual reality through an experiment on how it feels to be homeless. The United Nations is also planning on taking advantage of the power of VR to help with its global initiatives.

Because VR can trigger such strong emotions it also serves as an excellent vehicle for helping charitable organizations with their fundraising efforts. It has already been tested by such notable organizations as PETA and UNICEF. The latter experienced donations at twice the normal rate. And people didn’t do just one-off donations, many committed to monthly contributions.

A lot of people have a very emotional reaction to it… I can’t even count the number of times someone has taken off the headset and the goggles are filled with tears.

Christopher Fabian

Co-Lead of Innovation Unit, UNICEF

As you can see, there are countless ways in which we can apply new technologies like virtual reality for the common good. The examples referenced herewith merely scratch the surface. Yes, as with the advent of anything that’s new there’s fear and the potential

#VR4Good

for negative consequences but these are negligible compared to the countless ways in which virtual reality and its cousins 360 degree content, AR and MR will change the world for the better. It’s no wonder that with all the potential positive effects across many fields that marketers are looking to see how they too can leverage these technologies to assist with their goals. So what are you waiting for? Choose to use #VR4Good and leverage this emerging technology today!

VRLA: Highlights from Hollywood’s Virtual Reality event

Early this month more than 6,000 virtual reality enthusiasts and entrepreneurs gathered in Los Angeles for the premier VR event in Los Angeles, VRLA. If conference attendance growth is any indication of where the industry is headed then it’s clear that VR is well on its way to making it mainstream. This was the largest crowd to attend the twice yearly event and for the first time it spanned two days. As someone who works in the industry this was a welcome change as we were able to attend sessions and peruse the exhibit floor without public crowds to hamper the experience. So kudos to VRLA for making this improvement that accommodates VR professionals and casual enthusiasts alike.

 

(Great job VR Scout on this fun VRLA recap video!)

If you were hoping to experience the HTC Vive, this was a great place to do it because the VR gaming console dominated the show. From their heavy sponsorship to their large exhibit space that featured a plethora of demos, HTC owned this show from a VR headset perspective. Noticeably absent were Oculus and Playstation VR. Both have been present in the past, if not with their own booth then with a large number of exhibitors using their systems for demo purposes. While I saw nary a demo using Playstation VR I did find a few using the Rift. However their collective absence of any kind of substantial presence (no pun intended!) was certainly noticed by this observer. Maybe they’ll be present for the next VRLA event in March 2016. Till then, here are some highlights of the latest VRLA event.

That’s it for VRLA Summer 2016.  I look forward to the next event in spring of 2017. It may only be a mere 7 months away but one thing is certain, with the rapid development occurring in VR there will certainly be many more new things to try out. Hope to see you there!

What Do We Mean?: 360° Content and How it Provides Context

360 and VR add context

You’ve heard us say it before, the coming of 360° content provides us context that 2D content has never provided. In one of our previous posts, we even defined what context is for you. And just to jog your memory, context is (according to Dictionary.com), “the set of circumstances or facts that surround a particular event, situation, etc.” In other words, context provides us the whole picture – no limits.

To further explain what that means, let me give you an example. Let’s say you posted a picture of yourself in social media with the infamous red Solo cup, complete with the caption, “What a WILD party!” It just so happened that when you posted this, it was a work night. Your boss sees it on your profile and he doesn’t like it because he thinks you’re partying hard on a work night, which could have a negative impact on your work the next day.

But what if your boss totally missed the context? What if he didn’t know that this party you were at was actually your niece’s birthday party and that around you, there are actually kids holding similar red Solo cups all filled with juice? That

2D content lacks the context that we get from 360° content.

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totally changes the story doesn’t it? And that’s exactly what I’m trying to point out! 2D content lacks the context that we get from 360° content. It gives us the whole story and literally, the complete picture of what’s going on around us.

But then you might ask, what’s the big deal? What’s so important about 360° content and being able to get context? Sure, I get that it provides a bigger field of view, but how else can I benefit from it aside from avoiding misinterpretations? If you think about it, with the advent of 360° content, the way we consume and present information and data is changing. Journalists can significantly enhance how they cover the news and provide audiences with a more complete perspective and physical view of the stories they tell. This can foster stronger feelings of empathy and more importantly help drive change. Imagine what it could do for charities and their ability to fundraise.

360 VR ads give context

Marketers and advertisers can use 360° content to give better context as to what their product really looks like and does. Just think about the industries of tourism and real estate. With 360° images and videos of hotels and guest rooms, travelers will no longer be disappointed when they open that hotel room door and realize that their room mirrors how it was represented in a 360° ad. Home buyers can “walk” through a property before even leaving home. A consumer goods brand can more completely and accurately display where, when and how their product is best experienced.

Manufacturers of large and heavy machinery can use 360° images and video to provide clients and prospects with a comprehensive view of their facilities and products that would otherwise be nearly impossible to grasp without a visit to the plant. Dozens of other product categories and thousands of brands can also leverage this new content format to forge stronger bonds with their target audience. In the end, what is perhaps most important is that with 360° the consumer is given control to engage and interact with content like never before. Thus, it has the potential to be a pivotal tool that translates into driving more conversions and ultimately revenues.

One thing is definitely certain, the new opportunities and benefits that 360° content will bring about are too many to count and it’s exciting to be working in the thick of it and contributing to how the category develops. It’s amazing to think of how 360° content can change the way we perceive and do things. It has the power to alter our perspective on certain matters when we are exposed to the complete context of what’s going on. I suppose 360° content will now help us fully understand what it really means when we say, “Context is key.” And now the red Solo cup holding employee can confidently say to her boss, “You took the red cup out of context, boss, and made an assumption, and we all know what happens to you and me when we assume!”

VR, 360, AR, MR & Beyond: A “Newbie’s” Perspective

360 degree and VR devices

With the summer holidays at hand and the so called “year of VR” half over, it seems fitting that this post features the insight of a newbie to the 360° & Virtual Reality content space. For those of us deep in the industry, it’s easy to forget that most of the world is still unaware of the major transformation that content will undergo in the next decade. When you have the likes of Goldman Sachs predicting that VR revenue will surpass TV revenue by 2025 and big players investing billions, it’s easy to assume that when you tell someone you work in the VR biz, they’ll know what you mean. Unfortunately, such is not the case… Not just yet anyway.

So with that, we give you fresh perspective on 360° and VR from the newest member to the Outlyer team, Cara Covarrubias:

What is Advrtas and what are 360 degree ads and virtual reality ads

As I started working for Outlyer Technologies, I was immediately exposed to the world of 360° and Virtual Reality content. Virtual Reality – once the stuff that we only used to hear about from sci-fi movies and books – is now a part of our reality. No pun intended.

But what is Virtual Reality and 360° content? As Clay Bavor, Google’s VR division lead, pointed out in a recent Wall Street Journal article, the majority

of people out there have little to no knowledge of what VR really is and how it’s going to change the world as we know it. They also aren’t very familiar with 360° content. Not to mention, there are also other technologies like “Augmented Reality” (AR) or “Mixed Reality” (MR) – which are expected to have revenues that far exceed VR.

All these terms refer to something different and it’s important to know these differences as companies begin to work on bringing this new technology to our homes and everyday life. In their most basic sense, they are all based on content that exists in a 360° space. Whether you’re talking VR, AR or MR or even 360° videos watched on YouTube or Facebook, we’re talking about content that essentially lives inside a sphere.

VR, AR, & MR refer to something different, but they are all based on content that exists in a 360° space – meaning that they essentially live inside a sphere.

When it comes to 360 videos and photographs, big brands are steadily embracing the format and millions are watching. As pointed out in our last post, for far too long we’ve been relegated to watching videos and even looking at photographs in a rectangular box. With 360°, we now have the ability to get context and move from experiencing content passively to actively engaging with it. By the simple movement of our mobile device or the dragging of a mouse, we can explore content like never before… No headset required!

If you want to go for a more immersive experience where you’re shut out from the rest of the world, you can go the way of Virtual Reality.

Mobile 360 degree ads with Jeep

In the past year, VR gear like the Google Cardboard, Oculus Rift, HTC Vive, Samsung Gear, and even the Sony Playstation VR has been all over the news. But what exactly is Virtual Reality? Merriam-Webster

VIRTUAL

DEF. very close to being something without actually being it.

REALITY

DEF. the true situation that exists

defines the word virtual as “very close to being something without actually being it.” Reality, on the other hand, means “the true situation that exists…” When we combine these two words, it basically sums up what Virtual Reality really is and what it does. By donning a head mounted display (HMD), called a VR headset, we now get to experience real and even imagined worlds almost as if we are really there! In other words, what we see through the headset becomes our “reality” as we take on a first person perspective and become surrounded by content. No matter where we look, up, down, behind or in front of us, we are fully immersed. It’s what the industry calls “presence,” and it heightens our senses – triggering brain states that other forms of media simply can’t. It’s the closest we’ve come to teleportation.

When it comes to AR and MR, you have the likes of Magic Leap, Meta and Microsoft’s Hololens, leading the way for what we like to call AR 2.0. The big differentiator between VR and AR/MR is that with the latter, digital images are presented on top of your real world. For example, put on the Hololens and your coffee table becomes a playground for Minecraft where you see the game before you, but you can also see the rest of the world around you. One look at a Hololens or Magic Leap promotional video and you’ll be awed. Their technology is slightly different, but

regardless they both enable your real world to be canvassed with images and scenes created by a computing device while still enabling you to see the real world around you. While this technology is still in the development phase, it’s expected to far surpass the usage of VR as people are far more likely to use a headset that enables them to see their real world than one that blocks it entirely.

It’s clear that with 360°, VR, AR and MR we’re certainly entering a content revolution. No longer are we limited to experiencing other worlds or environments in the restrictive 2D format that we’ve been stuck in for nearly 70 years. Now, we can actually be immersed in worlds or environments, without having to step out of the comforts of our own home. We can find ourselves in places we never dreamed of and also place other worldly objects inside our real worlds. When all’s said and done, our reality is whatever we decide to be.

No longer are we limited to experiencing other worlds or environments in 2D, now we can be immersed in them without having to step out of the comforts of our own home.

And how does all this change the world of advertising and marketing? With 360° and Virtual Reality, the possibilities are endless! Marketers now have the opportunity to truly immerse consumers in their brands, thereby forging stronger emotional connections with their products and services. We can have people tour real estate properties or have them step into virtual stores and experiment with virtual products. We can even have them walk in different cities and tourist spots, all of this without actually having to physically step foot in these places! Need I also point out how all these technologies can change the worlds of architecture, engineering, education, science, photography, film, etc. with all the opportunities it brings? The applications are immense. Layer on the new developments of AR/MR and marketers have entirely new sets of tools at their disposal that they can and will leverage to connect with consumers like never before.

I’m very much looking forward to seeing the growth of 360°, Virtual Reality, AR & MR and seeing how these revolutionary technologies will change our lives. Seriously, what a time to be alive!

Interested in advertising through 360° & VR? Check out Advrtas.com – the world’s first fully interactive rich media 360° ad format with VR mode.

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