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Everything You Need to Know About 360 Degree Video

360 degree video provides an immersive viewing experience for consumers. Could it bring your creative marketing efforts to life?

If you’re low on travel funds and the best you can manage is a staycation, we recommend escaping into the highly immersive world of 360 degree video.

Always wanted to parasail but afraid of heights? There’s a 360 video for that.

Always wanted to swim with the sharks but afraid of, well, sharks? There’s a 360 video for that, too.

Whether a news site wants to virtually drop a viewer into the action of a developing event, or a resort hotel chain wants to give prospective guests the option to explore a pristine beach getaway from the comfort of their laptop, 360 has changed the video marketing conversation.

But don’t drop all your (highly fruitful) traditional video marketing efforts in favor of 360 just yet. Here’s a deeper look into 360 degree video marketing as a whole, and how to determine if it’s the right fit for your next campaign.

What is 360 Video, Broadly?

The basic concept behind 360 is that it allows the viewer to explore beyond the limited scope of a traditional camera view, giving them the sensation of being physically transported to the location in question. The concept first sprung onto the scene in 1995, when Immersive Media placed a 360 panorama camera in the middle of a basketball court. The idea has been alive and well ever since, with technological innovations finally catching up to the aspirations of the medium.

Now complete with interactive “click-around” capabilities, 360 degree video achieved its current prominence via innovations in video games and, eventually, with headset-based virtual reality (VR) pioneers like Oculus Rift and Google Cardboard. With the release of YouTube’s 360 video platform and the debut of Facebook’s equivalent shortly thereafter, more and more users have become acquainted — and enamored — with 360 degree video.

So, What’s the Setup?

The 360 video experience is achieved through a coordinated process of filming on multiple cameras, syncing them remotely and stitching that footage together. As far as specific cameras, we prefer the GoPro Omni but have also had success with the GoPro Freedom 360 — although the latter is a bit less user-friendly.

Using a static camera rig, placed in multiple rooms and environments, is a pretty standard procedure for most 360 degree filming. Excessive camera movement, however, can induce motion sickness when viewed through a headset.

By contrast, this video of Barcelona doesn’t utilise a static camera rig. This setup requires a much larger budget, as it involves the use of drones and other specialised equipment.

It should be noted that, compared with traditional video, the equipment needed to produce 360 degree video is never cheap. Even the six-camera GoPro Omni rig will run you at least $5,000 (or approximately £3900). The quality of video, at this point, can also be a liability — these videos are better viewed on a smartphone than a 24-inch desktop computer. But with the rise of mobile-first marketing, this potential weakness could be considered a timely strength.

Marketing Benefits of 360

Unsurprisingly, when 360 degree video first burst onto the scene, marketers were interested. Since its release into the world of social media, this interactive medium has been a hit. Studies have shown that viewers watch for 44% longer than they would a traditional video, and are 66% more likely to watch at all. When featured on a company’s website, click-to-purchase rates have gone up as much as 14 fold.

Numbers like those can be attributed to the limitless possibilities that 360 video affords for content creators and viewers alike. It gives the former the opportunity to to explore a more creative “future of storytelling,” and the latter a reason to stick around and engage. The results bear out: 360 degree video can deliver triple the conversion rate of traditional video and a 30% higher repeated view rate.

Not only is the content fun, engaging and highly marketable, it also accrues a ton of data in the course of the viewing experience. And the more data you have on your target audience, the more precisely you can tailor your marketing materials to fit their needs.

New Platforms: Valuable, but Not Everything

Now that you have a clearer idea of what goes into the production and distribution of 360 degree video, you can make a well-informed decision about whether this technology is right for you and your brand. The possibilities offered are undoubtedly spectacular — but that doesn’t necessarily mean that the medium jibes with your brand’s unique voice and personality.

So do your research, and when in doubt, remember this: no matter how you communicate it, your top priority should always be to construct a clear, coherent narrative. How you ultimately communicate that narrative is up to you.

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