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Immersive digital content is changing the industry: should you be embracing it too?

Posted by August 13, 2013
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How are the world’s biggest brands taking offline experiences online? With smart use of immersive 360 content

Google launched 360 imagery to the mainstream consumer in 2007. When they did, they instantly brought to attention a developing industry, one which focuses on creating extraordinary interactive images and video.

In the last four years, the 360 content industry has evolved dramatically as we begin to understand the power of this visual experience – one that allows the viewer to choose their perspective.

In the last year, this type of content has been popularised by London 2012, Wimbledon, The Ashes, The Open, F1, FIFA and thousands of music, entertainment and consumer brands.

What is 360 content?

Imagine taking your mobile, tablet, or laptop and being able to look around the Vatican, Taj Mahal or the front row of a Stones concert. To virtually walk around as if you were there from anywhere on the planet.  That is the simple power of 360 content – it instantly re-creates a physical experience digitally and both brands and agencies as using it increasingly across digital and social media.

This is for good reason, 360 content is proven to increase sales, dwell time, impressions and interactive brand engagement by putting the user at the heart of a real, offline, experience – online.

It wasn’t long ago that immersive content was just a small, distorted, virtual tour on an estate agent’s website. In fact the technology was so badly used, and the bandwidth so poor on early broadband, that it looked like 360 photography had had its day midway through the last decade.

A combination of faster internet speeds, huge growth in the tablet and smartphone industry (pushing the desire for interactive content), VR headsets like the Oculus rift and the appetite for sticky, sharable, content has made interactive photography and video explode.

7 reasons to use immersive content

1. Static content is not interactive
360 is.

2. Engage people for longer
Immersive imagery and video has far greater dwell times than flat imagery.

3. Brands are investing in digital innovation
With so many brands competing online, anything that provides a point of difference needs to be grabbed with two hands, particularly when it is so easily branded and sharable.

4. Make better use of social media
In its simplest form, this could link to share your 360 view on Facebook, Twitter or other platforms. More advanced systems allow you to find your face at an event and then add your Facebook tag.

5. Supports the mushrooming use of mobile and tablet
With children already trying to change TV channels by swiping the screen it’s just a matter of time before we all want to do the same with any image we find.

6. The wow factor
Immersive content shot and displayed well will absolutely blow users away. For example, allowing a user to explore an image by moving their iPad around their own head (using the inbuilt gyro) – like holding a window in to another world – is just amazing to watch.

7. It gives you new ways to tell a story
One of the great advantages with immersive content is that you can embed popups and information, allowing users to click on items and learn more. LloydsTSB used this recently in their graduate recruitment program – allowing potential recruits to explore the London office courtyard, clicking on employees and finding out about life at the business.

The Royal Wedding GigaPixel Panorama
London 2012 360 Images
Westfield London Interactive Map
St Paul’s Cathedral 360 Time Lapse

What do you think about the applications for immersive content? And where have you seen it used well?

About the author:

Henry Stuart is the co-founder of immersive content agency VISUALISE. His clients include London 2012, the BBC, the Times, Wimbledon and many more top UK and worldwide brands.

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