360° Videos and Photos – Gimmick or not?

Published September 30, 2016
Last Updated July 5, 2018
Tom Whitehouse

Content and PR Account Manager

Is an increasingly tech savvy world leading us towards a new angle for social media marketing? It would appear so.

You might have noticed that 360° videos (and also photos) have been in the news again recently. Stories have surfaced in recent weeks focusing on how social media giants Snapchat & YouTube are adopting the new video format within their media distribution. The BBC even provided coverage of ‘Live Olympic events in 360° format’ back in August, thus showing the technology can be applied within TV too.

When brand behemoths like Snapchat, YouTube and BBC embrace a new technology, it clearly demonstrates there is a potential value to gain by following suit. So, as the 360° video becomes more accessible and refined, is it likely social media marketers will begin to view it as an opportunity and not just a gimmick?

Before we give our insight, we hear you ask, what exactly are 360° videos? Here is an example:

Here at Jask, we love Game of Thrones. However, even our die-hard fans can get a bit confused about where everything ‘lives’ within the GOT universe. Understandably, we were awe-struck when the hit TV series released this immersive video on Facebook that helped its audience visually understand the vast (& slightly confusing) map of Westeros which is shown in the opening credits.

Amazing right? So why have 360° videos only just resurfaced?

This feature has been around since 2015, but as with many ground-breaking technological pieces, it took time to find its feet. The example above is just a small insight into what 360° video can now achieve, nevertheless, some believe that it is still just the ‘younger brother’ of Virtual Reality (VR for short).

It is true that at present 360° video seems to be a little overshadowed by the ‘superior’ and more exciting VR. Perhaps it is attributable to VR headsets that are rapidly becoming more accessible, affordable and increasingly publicised that is causing the furore amongst the public.

Despite this, 360° videos should not be overlooked. Especially by marketers.

Who is currently pioneering in this?

The entertainment industry are the current innovators in this marketing ploy. Big entertainment players such as Sony have delivered successful 360° video campaigns linked to feature films. The Game of Thrones example shown above gained a lot of traction and to date has over 13.5 million views.

Various bands and festivals have also produced 360° music videos and live performances respectively. In addition NME, the free music magazine, has scheduled a give-away of 80,000 Google Cardboard VR viewers in conjunction with the recent release of the ‘Inside Abbey Road’ app.  Entertainment is arguably one of the highest rated interests amongst millennials and alike which is undoubtedly why this industry is the first to effectively incorporate the innovative and highly appealing 360° video format.

Who else could benefit?

Although key players in the entertainment sector are the early adopters, it is not to say that others are not benefiting by using the 360° video format within their social media marketing. Here are just a couple of examples:

The Experience Goods Industry

Another sector that could profit from this video format is the Experience Goods industry. GoPro released a series of videos that advertised their latest 360° compatible cameras. Within their ads the viewer gets to experience the thrill of surfing, snowboarding and even diving with sharks.

You can find their playlist of 360° videos below. We particularly like the surfing video.

These videos show the potential for experience related companies to immerse and entice audiences into experiencing their products and services. Mark Zuckerberg was also on board with the GoPro surfing video, posting it on his Facebook profile and gaining over 16 million views.

Tourism

We also believe that tourism related industries could profit hugely from the 360° video format. Holiday seekers are surely willing to make the transition from printed brochures into immersive 360° videos that provide them an enhanced view of their possible destinations. The Australia tourism board certainly didn’t miss a trick when they released a stunning 18 video playlist showcasing ‘Australia’s Aquatic & Coastal Experiences’. This marketing effort could be part of the reason that Australia has seen a 14.8% increase in Leisure arrivals over the last 12 months.

Find the 18 video playlist below:

What do our in house experts think of the 360° video format?

Matt Ansell Creative Director

I think 360° video on devices (like Facebook) can be successful but headset based footage will never make the mainstream. In my opinion, aside from the cost of the better solutions, the main issue is that people will not want to fit a contraption to their head to watch video. Google’s cardboard has been a great success as it is seen as a bit of fun, whereas in-feed Facebook 360° video and even photographs enjoy great response rates. This is probably to do with the simplicity of viewing the content, by taking advantage of the phone’s sensors all the user needs to do is move the phone to look around – child’s play! It’s just as simple to capture 360° photos yourself using Google’s Street View App – have a go and share your results with us.

I would have thought that estate agents would be an early adopter of this concept, allowing users to fully see a view of a room independently might allow potential customers to view properties on their own time. This would also apply to the travel industry too. It would be a lot more comforting to be able to see all angles of your hotel rather than the selected ones shown on websites!

To be able to see news stories in 360° would also help to contextualise. For example, being able to see for yourself how war has effected Syria would be thought provoking.

One of our partners have produced an interesting 360° educational experience. A guided 360° tour of the ‘Coffin Works’ in Birmingham, allowing you to take a narrated tour whilst being given more freedom to look where you like.

Take a look here: http://spark-media.co.uk/work/coffin-works-360-tour

So, it would appear as though the 360° video is here to stay, with more and more industries finding ways to incorporate the format into their marketing efforts. Maybe your company will soon be integrating this media into its own creative marketing efforts.

In the meantime, keep an eye out for more interesting takes on 360° video and photo marketing, we sure will be.

Contact and tweet us to share your thoughts or any of your favourite 360° videos.



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