As the popularity of immersive virtual reality experiences continues to grow, more and more platforms now offer the ability to create and publish 360-degree photos and videos. Consumers are increasingly exploring and using this media format, and brands might think now is the perfect time to get in on the ground floor.
There's a wealth of potential marketing applications for 360-photos and videos, many of which are already in use – interactive product photos for retailers, virtual tours of properties for real estate professionals, and "destination" experiences for travel agencies, for example. But is this trend here to stay?
Below, Forbes Agency Council members discuss 360-degree photography and video and its staying power as a marketing tool. Here are their takes on this trend and what you should know before trying it out.
Eleven considerations for using 360-degree photo and video for your brand.
1. Stay On The Sidelines Until The Industry Matures
I'm bearish on whether or not virtual reality and augmented reality will have the broad market application that some pundits are suggesting. To me, 360-degree photography is an example of extending reality beyond the traditional lens and I remain cautious about it as a marketing tool. I would recommend that marketers stay on the sidelines until the industry matures. - Kristopher Jones, LSEO.com
2. Think About How It Could Help Your Audience
Does the 360-degree view help your customer make a more informed buying decision? Can you use it to provide insight that’s missing from a standard image or video? Certainly, look for engaging ways to use the technology, but, long-term, consumers don’t want toys. They want information and value in exchange for their time. - Scott Greggory, Madison Avenue Marketing Group
3. Consider Its Potential When Used Properly
Both 360-degree photography and video can be seen as a novelty when used in 2D non-interactive ads. However, these scenarios should not be seen as an example of a tool failing to be meaningful, but rather an example of a tool being improperly utilized. This may be relatively new tech, but with the increasing popularity of VR machines and interactive displays, 360-degree photography has high potential. - Larry Gurreri, Sosemo
4. Use A Strategic Approach
Any tool that allows brands to provide their audience with more information in an easier-to-digest format has the potential to be a meaningful marketing tool when used strategically. The capabilities of 360-degree photo/video have powerful applications in many industries, including real estate, retail and tourism. A 360-degree view has a better chance of selling a house than a static image. - Brock Murray, seoplus+
5. Keep The Story At The Forefront
The novelty of 360-degree photography will wear off fast. The power of 360 is the story that is told as a result of the immersive experience. Creative minds will blaze the trail and set the bar for the masses to follow. - Russell Kern, KERN Agency, An Omnicom Company
6. Optimize Local Business Pages
Using 360-degree photography is a great marketing tool for optimizing your local business pages and getting a better online presence. Besides adding basic profile information, such as your company address and website, you can get even more creative with your business profiles. By implementing this tool to these pages, potential customers will get a great preview of what your business is about. - Solomon Thimothy, OneIMS
7. Prepare For Tomorrow's Consumer Expectations
Today, 360-degree photos and videos are very helpful in industries such as the auto industry or real estate where visualizing the product is essential. As VR continues to grow, 360-degree photos and videos will likely become a standard. The consumers' expectations will likely adjust to needing to learn more about the overall "360-degree" experience of the restaurant for example, not just a picture of the dish. - Ahmad Kareh, Twistlab Marketing
8. Build An Immersive Experience
360-degree photography allows you to take photos that place the person exactly where you want them to be to experience a space. Whether it's for event space, views from resorts or hotels, real estate, data centers or simply scenery, it's a great way to immerse individuals and entice them to physically want to be there themselves. - Ilissa Miller, IMiller Public Relations
9. Determine If The Benefits Outweigh The Costs
While 360-degree photography is definitely a great way of elevating the online shopping experience for consumers, a cost-benefit analysis should be done prior to determining if it would be worth the investment. Depending on the purpose of using this medium, it can become quite expensive as the technology to produce high-quality images on a commercial level is still relatively new. - Revecka Jallad, Divisa
10. Test 360-Degree Experiences With Consumers
As AR/VR become more accessible, understanding how to tell your brand’s story in 360-degrees becomes critical. 360-degree photography and video is an excellent playground for this. It has a low cost of entry and provides insights that will come in handy in the future. Brands should use 360-degree photography and video to test and learn what types of immersive experiences their consumers enjoy. - Kieley Taylor, Catalyst
11. Create An Emotional Connection
360-degree multimedia is a brilliant tool for meaningful storytelling, as it allows the consumer to be transported to the experience you want them to have, bringing the story to life. Companies should take advantage of these tools to transform products into experiences, cultivating an immersive and emotional connection with the brand. - Joey Hodges, Demonstrate PR