360 Video is the New King of Content

It doesn’t need an expensive piece of hardware; it doesn’t need a savvy user; it doesn’t even need a smartphone. The newest craze to hit content marketing democratizes technology, letting desktop, mobile, and high-end users all get in on the experience.

We’re talking about 360 video content, the best way to reach the golden ticket of 20–30 year olds.

What is 360 video? It’s sometimes erroneously called virtual reality. 360 video is content where the user can view an environment in 360 degrees, instead of the traditional rectangular frame of video content. On a computer, that means they can mouse around the video, casting their view wherever they choose, instead of where the director placed the camera. Using a smartphone, they can shift the phone through the air to cause the same effect. Add a cheap headset (or an an expensive one), and the interaction becomes even more seamless — they just turn their head and look around to explore a world completely surrounding them.

Surrounding — and immersing.

360 video is often seen as an empathy machine. When UNICEF produced a 360 documentary about Syrian refugees, they raised double their projected donations — 3.8 billion dollars. Charity: Water used 360 content to raise $2.4 million, while Pencils of Promise raised $1.9 million.

And that power of connectivity can be leveraged to work for brands. Columbia Sportswear recently did A/B testing where they compared a traditional ad spot to a 360 degree version. Their results? 360 killed the film star. The interaction rate was way higher for the 360 video ad, plus it trounced the standard ad on all earned action metrics, including views, shares, and subscribers. And the best part? The 360 video ad drove 41% more earned actions than the standard ad.

Snapchat has quietly introduced 360 video ad streams; Facebook has loudly done the same, and Twitter wasn’t far behind. The streams to access this content is everywhere; now the only missing piece is quality content to fill them.

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Originally published at www.hammerandtusk.com.