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Introducing Virtual Reality Video on Facebook

Introducing Virtual Reality Video on Facebook
Madeleine Coe

Wednesday marked the beginning of a new era for video on your Facebook News Feed. This refers to, of course, the introduction of the new 360-degree videos.

The roll-out began with the debut of a clip from Star Wars: The Force Awakens, in which you, the viewer, are able to drag the cursor (or tilt your mobile device) to see all around you as you speed through the Jakku desert on the back of a pod-racer. Facebook had first unveiled their plans for the technology at the Facebook developers conference held earlier this year, and their intention for the future of video on Facebook has been clear since the March 2014 acquisition of virtual reality tech magnate Oculus.

Robert Angelo, an award winning producer and director focused on automotive storytelling, weighed in with Tier10, “It’s very exciting to hear that Facebook is adding the ability to embed 360 video into their ecosystem. It will enable brands and storytellers to immerse the viewer deeper into worlds that are created for them by advertisers.”

Wednesday’s rollout featured contributions from not only the Star Wars franchise, but also Discovery, GoPro, LeBron James & Uninterrupted, NBC’s Saturday Night Live, and VICE. The 360 videos are not available on iOS yet, only Android and web browsers will play them at this time, but Facebook looks forward to future compatibility.

Anyone with the video equipment to make the 360-degree clips, and a knack for telling stories through video, will soon be able to upload them to Facebook and share with followers.

Tier10’s chief creative officer, Scott Rodgers, was excited about bringing virtual reality to clients, “From a creative standpoint, if I’m developing an idea for a new campaign, this adds a whole new dimension to it. Instead of the viewer experiencing only what you want them to experience from the view of the camera lens, you design the space and then put the control into the viewers’ hands so they become their own director.”

Instead of the limited viewpoint of a regular camera, each user experience with a 360-degree video becomes unique, whether they watch it once or one hundred times. For early adopters, this immersive experience could be a great way to reach customers and engage them in new product releases. In particular, millennial consumers have a propensity for researching products before making purchasing decisions, and would be able to engage in a new level of comfort with the product before buying. The immersion experience is applicable to many consumer markets. How about test-driving a new vehicle before setting foot in the dealership?

Angelo described some of the possibilities for future advertising in this virtual reality space, “Imagine test driving a $250,000 Lamborghini from your office desk, or walking around your fully furnished Ikea living room without even getting off your couch. Currently these experiences will be very passive and restricted to moving your view around a single space in the world, but eventually that will evolve to allowing people to move through and interact with the 360 world… a virtual reality world (or worlds) that will exist a log-in away.”

Angelo’s Gibson-esque virtual reality vision is well aligned with the possible future of Facebook advertising. Facebook executives have long been aware of the capability of video content to supersede user engagement with text and video content. The introduction of 360 video is just the next step in the evolution of augmented reality on the social and digital landscape.

Sources: Facebook News Room, Wired

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