If you work in the fields of tech, marketing, and maybe even advertising, you’ve probably already heard about 360 VR. In a span of a few years, more and more brands are beginning to leverage this technology to the point that it’s become quite the marketing buzzword. From 360 videos all over YouTube and Facebook to experiential marketing booths in large trade shows and conventions, 360 VR is everywhere – even in advertising. What’s interesting though is that even after all the buzz about 360 VR, 360 VR advertising is still frequently misunderstood and misrepresented.
What is 360 VR Advertising?
360 Virtual Reality Advertising is an entirely new way of advertising. It’s a premium ad format that leverages 360 VR technology while still being served in the existing ad ecosystem using current ad networks and programmatic channels. This definition is key because it’s what sets it apart from branded 360 videos or experiences that you might find in social media or maybe even in trade shows and conferences. What does make 360 VR advertising similar to those branded 360 videos or experiences is the technology that it leverages: 360 VR.
Because 360 VR advertising leverages immersive technology, it gives consumers the opportunity to interact and engage with ads like they’ve never done before. It also gives brands the chance to provide consumers with premium ad content while also immersing them in their product.
Basically, because 360 VR advertising is so engaging, it is ushering in the next level of digital ad engagement – a place where CTRs (click through rates) will be lifted from their abysmal and unacceptable levels that are close to zero to much loftier heights (see results from our case studies). Finally, we are entering a world where banner blindness can be cured and where consumers want to play with ads. Yes, such a world is possible and we aim to help make it happen.
360 VR Advertising is More Than Just 360 Video
Since 360 VR advertising is still relatively new, it’s no surprise that there are still plenty of misunderstandings about it. For those who don’t know a lot about the ways that you can leverage 360 VR, there’s a big misconception that 360 VR advertising means branded 360 videos (and that’s why in the beginning of this article, we made sure to tell you the clear distinction between these two).
An example of a branded 360 video
While 360 video is a type of 360 VR ad format, it’s not the only one. Besides 360 videos, 360 VR ads can also be created with 360 images, CGi assets, and believe it or not, traditional or 2D assets (more on that later). And honestly, these options might be even better than focusing on 360 video as they are easier to produce than 360 video and they give you more license to be creative with interactivity.
An example of a 360 ad
How? Well, if you think about it, using 360 VR images means that there’s no time limit. As much as videos can be exciting to view in 360 and VR, you won’t be able to explore the content at your own pace and your own time, because you are limited to the time span of a video. A 30-second video will always be a 30-second video even in 360 VR. On the other hand, if you have a 360 VR ad that uses images, then a customer can be immersed in the content for as long as they’d like without worrying that time will “run out”. And because there’s really no time limit, the amount of creative things you can do with your 360 VR ad is pretty much limitless.
Okay, notice our Vegas 360 VR ad demo above. This 360 VR ad leverages 360 VR images. To make the 360 VR ad more engaging and interactive, we also leveraged hotspot technology and used these so-called hotspots to take viewers inside hotel lobbies, hotel rooms, and even a booking page. Imagine then if we took this 360 VR ad further and added more hotspots for the hotel pool, spa, casino, restaurants, retail shops – you name it! This then gives viewers the incentive to want to go deeper and deeper into the ad as they explore every hotspot available – it’s almost like a “Rabbit hole of interactivity” for the consumer. (And yes, if you want to know, hotspot technology can be leveraged by 360 video as well). But literally though, with this “Rabbit Hole of Interactivity”, you’re really only limited by your imagination.
Another feature that you can add to your 360 VR ad to make it even more eye-catching and engaging is by adding a camera rotation. This means that the 360 VR ad will be perpetually moving even without human interaction (almost like creating the appearance of video). With this movement, it’s hard not to capture a viewer’s attention as it taps into the most primal of human behaviors: seeing objects move in our peripheral vision.
Now, if the lack of 360 assets is preventing you from leverage 360 VR advertising, here’s a little secret: you don’t always need 360 assets to leverage 360 VR ads. The reason is that most 2D assets (like the ones you use to create your standard banner ads) can be placed inside a 360 sphere and leveraged in such a way that it becomes a 360 VR ad. You can also have a mixture of both 360 VR assets and 2D assets and create a 360 VR ad with plenty of ad real estate.
With 360 VR technology, you can display almost an infinite amount of product while still leveraging typical IAB ad sizes like a 300x250 banner ad. This definitely changes the game considering that in today’s competitive marketplace, digital advertising doesn’t come cheap and the ROI is paramount.
This is because 360 VR technology no longer relegates creatives to the confines of a rectangular or square box. Instead, you can enlarge and enhance your ad canvas by using a bigger 360 environment. This then means that you have more space to look around with, but you’re still within a typical ad format size. This allows brands to show consumers a larger view of their products and of their brand messaging.
Take a look at this simple demo that showcases a wide array of houses (in 2D format). Because these houses are in a 360 space, you can keep on going either left or right and the list of houses can go on and on. Whenever a house catches your eye, you can then tap or click on the house and be taken to a 360 VR interior of the house, or maybe a form to book a viewing with the realtor, etc.
With all these options, you can see that 360 VR advertising is really more than just video.
360 VR Advertising is More than Just an In-App or Social Media Solution
Another misunderstanding about 360 VR advertising is that it’s either an app-only solution or a social media solution. While 360 VR advertising can exist in the digital ad spaces of your apps or even social media accounts, it’s much bigger than that. When we say that 360 VR ads take advantage of the existing ad ecosystem, we mean that they can also be browser-based ads. This means that even when you’re reading an article from a news site or you’re scanning through content from other publishers, the ads you see on the sidebar or in the middle of your content can very well be a 360 VR ad. Because of this, your reach is much greater because you can basically reach anyone who has internet access.
Now that you know what 360 VR advertising is, what it isn’t and how it’s different from branded 360 videos, 360 VR experiences you see in trade shows, etc., you’re one step closer to being a 360 VR advertising expert. And seriously, there’s so much more about 360 VR advertising that we haven’t touched and that’s why we made this into a series about 360 VR advertising.
Stay tuned for our next installment!