How immersive 360-degree video could work for your organization

New technology is pushing marketers to be innovative in how they get their clients in front of new audiences. Is VR technology worthy of investment?

Immersive web design is enjoying a renaissance of sorts, transforming users’ expectations and making their online experiences more valuable and memorable. Now, more than ever, technologies like 360-degree video storytelling are taking immersive websites to the next level.

How does 360-degree video enhance the digital experience, and when is it appropriate?

Whether you’re a developer, content creator or marketing decision-maker, here are things to consider:

Video content can take digital storytelling to the next level.

Communicators always aim to shape a web experience into a story, not a simple information dump. Video can be an extremely powerful, effective way to tell that story.

Websites with videos absolutely receive more clicks and overall engagement. Visitors stay on the site longer and explore a little more. Immersive video is the perfect way to maximize that user engagement.

When people watch a 360-degree video, they have more opportunities to interact with the video content (and thus the product or brand). On the digital side, designers can zoom in on certain areas and add calls to action, links, hot spots and other copy using JavaScript.

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All of these things can help guide the user to explore another section of the website, join a mailing list, make an appointment or buy a product. Soon marketers will also be able to incorporate buttons and links that allow users to make a purchase directly in the video. In addition, people can always spend more time in areas of the video that interest them, increasing the probability that they’ll continue on the customer journey.

Does it make sense for your organization?

Realtors were one of the first groups to adopt 360-degree video in a big way. This makes sense—after all, is there really a better way to experience a home?

In the same vein, 360-degree video is a natural fit for many brands in the home industry. Think about what your potential customers can gain by interacting with an environment. For example, seeing a countertop up close, looking into an oven or microwave, or peering through the windows or skylights to the world beyond.

Is it affordable?

If it offers a sound value proposition, 360-degree video provides a huge upside for relatively little extra investment. The cost of producing 360-degree videos is falling as technology improves and adoption rates increase. Today, 360-degree video storytelling is common enough that it’s compatible with almost all desktop and mobile web browsers.

News organizations’ widespread adoption of the technology has accelerated this development and helped the general public become more comfortable consuming it. Today, most big breaking news stories produced in visual formats include a 360-degree video version with drone footage.

Social media platforms like Facebook and Instagram have also embraced the 360-degree movement. If you upload a large panoramic image to Facebook, the site will automatically convert the image to 360-degree format. While the result isn’t technically a video, it’s based on the same concept, and it shows how comfortable most people have become with the 360-degree experience.

Now, we can incorporate 360-degree videos into websites fairly easily and at a reasonable cost, even if they aren’t part of the original creative plan or mission. Video production teams that have a 360-degree camera can take it along on a shoot and use it on the fly if they (and the client) see the potential value.

Once the video content developers capture the footage, the digital team can integrate these videos into websites, just as we would a normal video. While things like hot spots and links take a little time to add after the fact, the payoff for the user (and the owner of the website) is well worth the trouble.

A promising future

This kind of video storytelling still has a lot of room to grow, and we can’t wait to watch what happens next. Vimeo and YouTube recently made it easier to upload, process and present 360-degree video content, and that should drive a lot of new demand in 2018 and beyond.

Justin Holt is a front-end web developer for Wray Ward, an independent marketing agency. A version of this article originally appeared on the Wray Ward blog.

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