Facebook is officially rolling out 360° photo in the feed, in just over a year, 360° content has gone from a dream to a reality. Youtube launched their first 360° video in March of 2015, and since then, Facebook followed suit in September, with Twitter adding the capability just last week. 360° content is immersive, engaging, and just the beginning of virtual reality's entrance into the mainstream. Though the technology is still young, the eyeballs are already there: 360° content is an exciting content format that brands can't afford to ignore.
Technological evolution of 360
Initially, 360° cameras were comprised of 10-14 GoPro cameras mounted on a circular rig, which captured overlapping footage. The material was stitched together in post-production, typically using software like Kolor or Panocam3D. This process was cumbersome and expensive, with hardware and software often exceeding $15,000 and requiring a highly specialized skillset to produce.
However, a number of manufacturers like Samsung and LG have recently released a number of lower-cost options with accompanying apps to handle the stitching. Now, with several options under $1000 and simpler stitching processes, 360° content is far easier to produce and process. The democratization of the technology has begun, and with more publishers, platforms, and brands trying it out, expect to see more 360° content in the coming months. In just over a year, technology has advanced from complicated multi-cam rigs (left) to sleeker dual-lens options (right) that fit in your pocket.
Simple: it's new, immersive, and engaging. A comparison of brands' 360° content to their regular video shows engagement rates that are often thousands of times higher. Check out the screengrabs below of GoPro's Facebook videos: 360° is on the top, and standard video on the bottom.
The 360° video received:
1600x more views
465x more reactions
4440x more shares
10,000x more comments
The reach of 360° is undoubtedly higher: users view the video and tag their friends, resulting in the kind of organic reach most marketers can only dream about. 360° content also yields a 3x higher watch-time and better recall following viewing. What about the technology is so engaging? It's because a 360° video view is not just a passive view; it's an experience unique to each viewer, which yields word-of-mouth awareness. Check out some of the comments from Ritz's recent foray into the 360° content world: users are consistently impressed by the technology, compliment the brand on their production, and tag their friends.
What kind of content works for 360°?
The most successful 360° content takes full advantage of the format's immersive characteristics. We identify four creative themes from studying the most popular 360° videos on Youtube and Facebook.
Emotional: immerse people in moments that envoke emotions
Localized: transport your viewers to another place
Extreme: put your viewers in unusual situations outside of normal daily life
Exclusive: give your viewers a peek into an otherwise-restricted area
Should your brand be using 360° tech?
Before you dive into the emerging world of 360° content, ask yourself these questions: does being an early adopter of technology matter to your brand or your target group? Does your content and brand identity lend itself to 360° technology? Do you have the resources in your organization to test and learn and stay ahead of the curve? If the answer to all of these questions is yes, then don't wait to start creating some of the most engaging content the world has ever seen.
FlashStock now offers 360° content!
Because 360° is the new frontier of engaging content and we're committed to staying abreast of new technology, FlashStock is thrilled to announce our new capacity for 360° video and imagery! Check out some of our examples below. If you like what you see, don't be shy to chat with us!
360° content is a harbinger for the coming wave of virtual and augmented reality technology. The entire ecosystem (from hardware manufacturers, software developers, publisher to supporting platforms) is cooperating and working together to create and proliferate 360° videos and images: expect to see more of it in the coming months and years.