360-Degree Videos for Storytelling and Mobile Video

Since 2015, Facebook and YouTube have supported 360-degree videos. YouTube started supporting these videos in March 2015, and Facebook followed suit six months later as a prelude to the introduction of the Oculus Rift onto the market. There does seem to be confusion between the differences between 360 video and virtual reality at electronics stores but while some say that 360 degree views could just be a type of virtual reality that has some more constraints (or say, a starter to full-on virtual reality), this shouldn’t discount 36o degree video by any means.
Why, may you ask? That’s because some see the value in 360 video while there’s a perceived reticence toward adopting virtual reality. We can’t deny that VR is here to stay, in the context of advertising, companies like Ford think “the 360-degree video ad format was more accessible than going all-in on something like virtual reality.”  Their argument for sticking with 360 and not going all in? In an interview with Digiday, Ben Richards, Chief Digital Officer at Ford’s digital agency GTB said: “VR is too cutting edge to justify its own piece of communications.”
Before we move forward, how do we keep the difference between 360 and VR clear? Let’s sum it up like this: “In VR you control the experience; in 360 you’re simply along for the ride. Having said that, it can be a great ride.”
And some other advantages of 360 video?
In the advertising context, 360 video packs in enough punch to get people to engage because this video style is still considered a novelty, meaning that the newness is enough to get people to tune in. This is important because, while companies were committed to saying that there were early adopters of 360 videos when the technology first came on the scene, they then became weary about whether people would be able to find the content once it was placed on the relevant platforms. Not only that, since there is still some social sigma around virtual reality goggles, not only are 360 videos are a happy medium in terms of the financial investment involved, it also helps gradually accustom audiences to the full on VR experiences that are forthcoming. Plus, according to YouTube, “a headset or viewing device is required for virtual reality and not required for 360.”
Now, let’s consider 360-degree video in the two contexts implied in the title: storytelling and mobile video
360-degree video storytelling
While we’ve already touted the benefits of storytelling as the best way to engage, effective video storytelling is not a one size fits all deal. When implementing 360 video, the BBC News Lab came up with some conclusions that we find extremely valuable as you consider the uses of 360-degree videos for storytelling. First things first, 360-degree storytelling’s unique value proposition is that the technological capabilities can let you take viewers to places they may not be able to access in more conventional ways. Another way to ensure the success of these stories is to keep the narrative simple so the audience is not too overwhelmed when the story is told in a different format.
They also talk about a new storytelling philosophy with this format, which they’ve coined spherical thinking. Spherical thinking focuses on location and presence. When considering location, they consider filming in places that let the audience see the subjects in the context in which the profiled people are operating, letting you really go alongside them. The presence leads to “…a heightened sense of emotion. This would include feeling that people are talking to them, or being part of the conversation in an interview.” Since we, and many others have concluded storytelling aims more at the heart than the head, this bodes well for 360-degree video storytelling.
While there are several examples from the BBC, the example we’re highlighting below, Resistance of Honey, in which you’re taken deep inside a beehive, has been featured at festivals including IDFA, iDocs, and the Future of Storytelling Festival. Its inclusion in these festivals is a testament to the quality of the content.
360-Degree Video for Mobile
Now, the good news is that since Facebook and YouTube were the two major players to first incorporate 360-degree videos, they naturally recognized the benefits of making these videos supported on their mobile devices. And now, the best part, is that there’s no need for wearing a headset. In fact, according to a survey by AOL, “almost half of the global consumers (49%) are experiencing 360-degree video on mobile.” This is compared to 31% of global consumers that have experienced virtual reality videos, with that percentage decreasing to 28% when only looking at US customers. Since Facebook and YouTube are vying for the honor of being the most dominant video platform of 2017, let’s see how you can use 360-degree video on those platforms.
On Facebook
When you use 360-degree videos for mobile, you can control the videos by moving your phone or tablet around as well as moving all around with your finger. This gives you a perfectly mobile-adaptable 360-degree mobile experience. That means, when you go back to watch the video that started it off, to promote Stars Wars: The Force Awakens, you’ll have no problems getting the same feel on your desktop as on your iPhone.
On YouTube
On YouTube, on mobile, videos are controlled easily. According to YouTube themselves “…you can drag your finger across the screen or move it around in different directions. (While 360-degree video doesn’t require a viewing accessory, you can watch with an accessory like Google cardboard.) The screen is monoscopic because there is only one set of images displayed.” That empowers you to experience the videos from any direction, not just the way in which you’re looking in the moment. Before the video is uploaded, note that you’ll have to add an app or a script before you upload, but remember that we can help you with that.
Here’s an example of an early video:
And, as an added bonus, a fantastic one made as a collaboration between Qantas, Hamilton Island in Australia, and Samsung:
Besides these two platforms, 360-degree video ads have also arrived on Snapchat. Examples include a masquerade ball as part of Universal Pictures’s promotion of 50 Shades Darker. For those looking to figure out how to best incorporate Snapchat into their strategies, 360-degree videos show promise:

According to Michael Rucker, co-founder and chief operating officer at OmniVirt, there has been “an uptick” in the number of advertisers looking to run 360 videos on Snapchat because it provides for a far better clickthrough rate and much higher engagement than regular video ads on the platform. It is a good option for brands — especially at a time when recent stats show that 69 percent of American adults skip regular Snapchat ads “always” or “often.”

On the other hand, OmniVirt’s clients have seen two to three times more swipe-ups for 360-degree experiences versus other swipe-up call to actions on Snapchat, according to Rucker. And users also engage with the content better — the average user spends over a minute in these 360-degree experiences.

What about KPIs?
360-degree video advertisements, when compared to regular video, tend to have the same conversion rates. But as the above results from Snapchat show, there’s a lot of potential with well-executed 360-degree videos.
Ready to add some 360 video?
We at Stark Crew have all the resources you need for your next video project. If you’re looking to see how we can make your video dreams come to life, or you’re already ready to get a price quote, get in touch with us for a quick turnaround time.