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360 Video – Should you go for it?

All of a sudden we keep seeing 360-degree videos on YouTube and Facebook walls. Does that mean you need to invest in 360 videos and generate some sweet positive ROI? As a marketer, you are probably constantly thinking about how can you surprise your audience. Since VR, AR (Pokemon kind of), and 360˚ is a hot topic, you must be thinking: “Should I hop on the hype train?” Well, let’s take a look at a case study. Google partnered with Columbia Sportswear to check how the video ad performed. As most of the companies, Columbia Sportswear also used 15- and 30-second YouTube videos to promote themselves.

To provide something new they created two video ads: one traditional and one shot in 360 degrees. Columbia sent a production crew out with US Olympic skiers Hannah Kearny and Keaton McCargo to chart their journey on the Chilean slopes.

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So which one had better results? Both traditional and spherical video featured a 60-second spot for Columbia Sportswear. Both ads included Call-To-Actions at the same position of the player window. The CTA drove to an extended version so that they were able to see if the 360˚ ad was better than the standard ad at driving viewers to a full-length video.

The findings? Here’s what they found:

360 video doesn’t over-perform on traditional viewer metrics.

The standard ad had better success on standard view-through rates on desktop and mobile. That can be contributed to the passiveness of the standard video. Sometimes viewers just let the video [play while they are browsing other pages or doing other stuff. 360 requires more attention and the viewers aren’t always in the mood for that.

360 video motivates viewers to watch more content

Interestingly enough, the 360 video ad had a lower retention rate than a standard one. However, it had a higher click-through rate. This is actually great for a promo video since viewers are clicking on the full-length ad even before it was played through till the end. Viewers who were interacting with the video by tilting and scrolling in the 360˚ video had a higher view-through rate on a full-length video that followed the initial media type.

360 videos incentives viewers to share, subscribe and watch more videos

360˚ video blew standard one out of the water with action metrics, such as views, shares, and subscribers. And not for a little but 41% more earned actions than the standard video ad.The most interesting part? The campaign videos on YouTube were unlisted, which means that the viewers could get to a full-feature video if they clicked the ads. So the expectations were that the longer 360˚ ad would match the clicks of the shorter 360˚ ad.
It didn’t.

People were sharing the longer 360˚ by copying the URL and sending it directly to others. Google saw the messaging apps such as Whatsapp and iOS messenger as the traffic sources as well.

So in short, 360˚ content had more actions, more shares, and higher CTR. Convinced? You should be.

However, before you go balls against the wall with 360˚ content, here’s what you should think about. VR is not for everyone’s message. Please have a compelling reason to put a viewer in the story through a VR experience and make that content engaging. If you don’t you risk the investment falling flat. At the start, VR was/is having a problem for the amount of VR content. Nowadays the content is here but most of it is garbage. Even if you use our company software – Viar360, which makes it super simple to turn 360˚/VR content into an interactive experience, it’s still up to you to create a compelling experience.

Because of the immersive nature of virtual reality, which can be so vivid that it can create powerful visceral connections to the content (and potentially, the brand), make sure that the content coming out of your or mercenary production studious is worthy of this special connection with the viewers. Many people want to try the VR, just because of its novelty. Satisfy them with an incredible experience – they deserve it.