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Panoramic Narratives: How 360 Storytelling Keeps Audiences Engaged

New advances in 360-degree video make it a majorly immersive experience for viewers.

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New advances in 360-degree video make it a majorly immersive experience for viewers.

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Panoramic Narratives: How 360 Storytelling Keeps Audiences Engaged

New advances in 360-degree video make it a majorly immersive experience for viewers.

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Recent technological advances have accelerated 360-degree video into the mainstream, and marketers the world over have been taking note. Facebook and YouTube now support 360 video playback without the need for clunky VR headsets, as users can immerse themselves in the action via a ‘click and drag’ motion to manipulate the viewpoint, paving the way for engaging experiences that stand out.

Mobile users aren’t even required to ‘click and drag’, as positioning their device in the desired direction is the only movement necessary to achieve the ‘real life’ effect of being there, looking around as if they’re really inside the film.

Advertisers often talk about ‘transporting’ the audience and ‘tapping into the emotions’, doing everything possible to ‘connect on a deeper level’, but in a world where video content accounts for the vast majority of Internet usage - 82% by the end of the decade, according to Cisco’s Visual Indexing Network - producing something that rises above the competition to truly capture the imagination is increasingly tough.

However, this is where 360 storytelling comes into its own, as nothing quite beats the power of dictating your viewpoint for engagement value, and this level of involvement really can ‘transport’ the audience as they become active participants rather than passive viewers.

A great example of 360 storytelling in action is the BBC’s ‘Planet Earth II: Mountains’ short, documenting the crew’s quest to capture rare footage of the snow leopard. (Note that iOS software does not currently support YouTube 360 playback, so Safari users may need to switch browser to get the full experience of this video.)

David Attenborough’s voiceover leads the audience through the narrative, allowing them to navigate the screen and explore the wonderful 360-degree setting at will. Clever use of text and motion graphics support the story with details such as altitude and distance to the nearest village, as the team attempt to track down the elusive big cat.

Being able to spin round and take in the full the panoramic vista creates a cinematic sensation like no other, and it’s nigh-on impossible to not ‘connect on a deeper level’ when compared to normal, standard viewing.

360 degrees immerses us in the action, allowing us to experience the adventure and emotional journey. After climbing the hazardous terrain and scanning the landscape for a glimpse of something special, you can’t help but smile when the team celebrate as their camera-trap footage reveals first sight of snow leopards.

However, the journey doesn’t end there , and smart stereo sound alerts the viewer to turn to face the zoomed-in shot of wild snow leopards mating - the first time such footage has been captured.

As the title music plays and you take in the majesty of the landscape one last time, users can reflect on this unique experience that places you in the heart of the action. It’s this ability to stir the emotions that advertisers can play on, which is why I believe 360-degree video marketing is poised for big things.

Ultimate audience interaction

Travel videos and in-car automotive films work particularly well, as 360 allows a certain ‘try before you buy’ element, inviting consumers to experience the destination or feel what life is like in the fast lane, potentially triggering sales.

Indeed, Expedia’s ‘How Far’ campaign - in partnership with Tourism Australia - has won critical acclaim for showcasing the nation’s finest attractions in full panoramic glory, while BMW UK’s ‘44 years. 32 cars. 1 line’ effort has so far amassed 3.5 million views on Facebook.

A recent Google study split-tested two variations of the same ad - one shot in standard mode, one recorded in 360  - and the results made a compelling case for 360 video, as the latter version achieved 42% more shares, likes and subscribes.

Absorbing the audience in the narrative and giving freedom to look in whichever direction they want creates an innately appealing experience, and if you rate engagement as a metric for success, there’s no more an engaging format out there right now.

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Panoramic Narratives: How 360 Storytelling Keeps Audiences Engaged

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