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Virtual reality vs 360-degree video: what’s the deal for B2B marketers?

It’s sobering to think it’s more than 20 years since a much younger version of me stepped, exhilarated and shiny-eyed, off that 3D ride in Disneyland, Paris. If you’d asked me then what the future looked like, I probably wouldn’t have used the terms “virtual reality” or “360-degree video”, but I’d have described immersive computer games, telepresence, and the chance to explore places I’ve never been (the entire known universe still being my favourite candidate).

Today the technology exists to deliver on those dreams, but the possibilities stretch way beyond entertainment. For marketers who have demand generation in mind, the latest technology offers the opportunity to create mind-blowing, shareable content.

So what’s out there that you might want to try?

Virtual reality (VR) is a computer-generated experience that feels real: just as our decisions and interactions can influence the outcome of a computer game and the path taken through it, they can also influence a VR experience. Imagine, for example, being able to ‘place’ your customers inside a data centre that’s under attack from cyber criminals, and giving them the chance to respond in real time. A way to bring whitepaper content to life through gamification?

Often delivered via hi-tech headgear, VR can be expensive but, as is generally the case with new technology, it’s likely that prices will come down over time. Here are some great examples of brands using VR as a marketing tool.

And while we’re here, we should also mention augmented reality (AR), which superimposes VR over your view of the real world. If you want to know what that looks like, just ask any child to show you Pokémon Go!

360-degree video, on the other hand, takes you wherever the camera operator goes. So far, so like a traditional video, but the key difference with the 360 version is that you can look all around you and take in your surroundings — think of a guided virtual tour that goes at your own pace. The fact that 360-degree video can be viewed using most browsers and devices means your audience doesn’t need any special equipment, making it a more cost-effective and accessible alternative to VR. You still get a very real sense of being present though — check out these awe-inspiring examples.*

So, what can these new video formats really help you achieve?

Well, both VR and 360-degree video open up huge possibilities for storytellers. A 360-degree video takes people on a rich narrative journey; while VR immerses them in the experience you create and lets them influence the narrative. Both formats allow you to dive deeper into a topic and adopt the ‘show don’t tell’ approach that all video makers strive for.
Both formats can help with demand generation by allowing you to create content that is vivid, exciting and compelling — which can go a long way to boosting your overall awareness in the market.

Is either one better than the other?
At the moment, I don’t think so. Although the immersive nature of VR means it has the potential to deliver a more powerful experience than 360-degree video, it requires more specialised and costlier equipment — both to create it and experience it. Using 360-degree video still allows you to create supremely engaging content that can help you drive demand generation.

For now, our conclusion is that both formats make the future of B2B video marketing a very exciting place.

In fact, we’re so excited about the possibilities; we recently went to the Virtual Reality Show and it reaffirmed our thoughts that the potential for its use is staggering. Were you there? What was your top takeaway? Tell us by leaving a comment below.

In the meantime, whatever your video marketing needs, give us a call us on 01628 622187.

*Note: If you don’t see the little control panel to the top left of the screen, and what you do see looks like you’ve entered a disturbing new dimension, your browser or device may not support 360-degree video. Try another.

Photo by martin louis (https://www.flickr.com/photos/152210849@N08/33823352671) via: freeforcommercialuse.org