Immersive video is poised to go mainstream in 2017 as advertisers and content owners embrace VR and integrate it into the advertising and marketing mix.
As a recent report in Adweek reported, some companies are already developing and distributing VR and 360 ads. One immersive ad for the Jack in the Box fast food chain appeared on Twitch, and other ads have been playing on sites such as The New York Times, Vice and AOL. Moreover, social platforms, such as Facebook and Snapchat, are developing tools to facilitate and improve the immersive video experience, and to track the results of VR ads.
"One thing I'm seeing here relative to the early YouTube days is actually a lot more investment from brands, agencies and publishers," OmniVirt co-founder and former You-Tube employee Michael Rucker, told AdWeek. "The creative asset piece is still new, but I've actually seen every brand creating content."
In fact, brand marketers and content developers should see increased interest in immersive content as this new market segment opens up. “I don't think it's a tomorrow thing, it's a today thing," OmniVirt co-founder Eric Franchi told AdWeek.
Results from MEC's Consumer Pulse study underscore growing consumer demand for Virtual Reality (VR) devices. According to the 2016 study, 79% of those surveyed were aware of the new technology, and 37% of respondents were interested in buying a VR device. Among younger buyers, 18-to-34-year-olds, the number interested in buying a VR device climbed to 48%.
“We are at a tipping point for mass adoption in the U.S.," says Fishman Zember, a managing partner at media agency MEC's New York office. “As virtual reality headlines flood the business and marketing news, we are for the first time witnessing the medium's benefits at scale, especially for marketers and brands. This new creative canvas has the potential to not only deliver on a brand's promise more completely for consumers, but to add another layer to storytelling."
The Virtual Reality Advertising Effectiveness Study, sponsored by the VirtualSky ad network and Nielsen Research, shines a light on how the industry will assess key performance indicators and measure results from VR-related promotions. The survey covered four key topics: content engagement, brand perceptions, brand behaviors, and brand integration perceptions.
Overall, the respondents were at least eight times more likely to recall brands in VR experience ads in virtual reality compared to online video ads, and twice as likely to share those ads. In addition to effectiveness, 83 percent of those surveyed rated the ads as excellent or very good, and said they would be interested in watching more content in a virtual reality content.
Another compelling result of the VR Advertising Effectiveness Study is that it showed that VR ads drove substantial increases in key metrics when compared with conventional online video ads. For example, viewers of Fruity Pebbles VR ads showed better familiarity, closer affinity, higher likelihood to purchase, and higher likelihood to seek more information about the product.
These early VR advertising examples and data are clear signs that immersive advertising is on the threshold of going mainstream. That should stimulate the development of even more advertising content and the refinement of key performance indicators for measuring ROI in 2017.