When does innovation become revolution? When it starts turning fantasies into reality.
That’s the essence of immersive storytelling. Using digital devices to conjure objects and transform environments is a dream as old as science fiction. Now, with the explosive rise of 360, VR and AR, consumers are finally seeing that dream come true.
Clearly, they’re into it. An impressive 52% of consumers are already engaging with 360 video at least once a week, with 30% expecting to experience more 360 or immersive videos this year than in 2017. And even though VR is still a fresh novelty for many consumers, 31% of consumers expect to watch more videos in VR this year.
And don’t mistake this demand for immersive storytelling as an attempt to escape the reality. Creative studios like RYOT—which has produced over 200 news and documentary VR films in 40 countries in the past two years alone —are aggressively focused on the power of 360, VR and AR to give viewers a closer connection to what’s happening in the world.
In 2017, expect immersive storytelling to transform media experiences in profound and sweeping ways. From video to print, consumers are anxious to see the technology of their dreams take content to the next level.
Making the news hit home
Journalists are well aware of how critical it is to hook audiences by drawing them into the heart of a story. So it should come as no surprise that 360 and VR are hitting the news world like the advent of electricity.
In 2016 and 2017, RYOT broke new ground with VR coverage of the Standing Rock protests, refugees landing in Lesbos, and the Women’s March on Washington, effectively sucking viewers into the center of major global news events.
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Every storyteller wants to make the audience feel like they’re right there. And in the right hands,VR makes that the default experience.
It’s not just the news that’s ripe for VR. When asked what type of content they want to consume in VR, 43% of consumers selected virtual tourism. Nature lovers, too, are eager to get up close and personal: 31% of consumers look forward to experiencing nature and science content through VR in the next six months.
Breaking barriers to art and culture
Over the past year, augmented reality has opened huge creative opportunities for storytellers. It’s also opened windows to social progress. Last year, RYOT surprised a group of Los Angeles fifth-graders with a trip to the Louvre — by way of a local warehouse. Aiming iPads at empty picture frames, students found themselves in VIP-proximity to the museum’s greatest masterpieces.
It’s an extraordinary glimpse into how AR will impact education and social programs by removing cost barriers to exceptional experiences. And mobile devices help to fuel the rise of AR. Nearly 1 in 4 consumers watching videos in AR do so on a smartphone.
Reviving endangered art forms
No one ever wanted print to die. With AR in the picture, maybe it doesn’t have to. Recently, AR-enhanced magazine covers have demonstrated how digital technology can honor and reinvigorate traditional analog experiences without usurping them completely. In other words, turning a magazine cover into a living object allows us to experience the excitement of new digital creative technology without losing the tactile pleasure of paper and ink.
More AR upgrades to the real world are rolling out and consumers are paying attention: 22% of consumers are already engaging with video in AR more than once a week, with 26% expecting to do it even more in 2017.
Here, there and everywhere
VR is well on its way to becoming a standard media format and consumers can’t wait. A whopping 64% predict that viewing VR will be just as common as watching video on mobile devices is today. Movies and TV are an obvious area of opportunity, with 43% of consumers interested in viewing entertainment in VR within the next six months. Shopping is another promising territory, with 28% of viewers interested in strapping on the goggles to browse.
It goes without saying that advertisers and publishers need to be on top of this. Advertisers are already getting in on 360, with 73% expecting 360 video to drive more revenue in the next 12 months than any other new format. More than half of publishers expect the same. On the VR front, 70% of advertisers and publishers see a place for VR in the digital video marketplace. Already, 23% of advertisers report plans to get into the VR space in the next 12 months.
The year of immersive storytelling
It’s all happening, and it’s happening fast. Keep an eye on key players in the coming months as studios continue to unleash the first definitive wave of 360, VR and AR content. This won’t be the first time a new kind of technology transforms the world as we know it. But after decades of dreaming, it might just be the coolest.