360-Degree Storytelling

You’ve heard of Oculus Rift. The virtual reality (VR) headset purchased by Facebook for $2 billion has generated a lot of buzz at CES and SxSW. Many big-time players are also jumping on board. Google, Samsung, Sony, and Apple have or are planning on releasing VR headsets.

This is definitely an exciting time, and we will start to experience completely new ways of consuming content. Most of the focus has been on gaming and media, but what about the impact it will have on marketing?

It’s clear that brands, tech companies, venture capitalists, and agencies are all willing to significantly invest in immersive experiences. VR production companies are springing up, and the demand for content has rapidly grown. Oculus distributed 100,000 developer kits in 2014, and we are starting to see some innovative results. From Elle magazine livestreaming fashion shows, to Marriott’s first-ever virtual travel experience, to Mountain Dew’s VR tour of Las Vegas from a pro skateboarder’s perspective.

Automotive giants Chrysler, Ford, and Nissan have also begun offering VR experiences for test drives, prototyping, and even manufacturing. This type of storytelling is very powerful. You have a user’s undivided attention and can also give them a sense of being there.

To be sure, there are hurdles. Cost, adoption rate, and limitations within the hardware itself pose roadblocks to content creators. Most of these challenges will work themselves out with continued engineering, but successful storytelling does not rest on technology alone. It still requires a great strategy, concept, and execution. While these new types of experiences will indeed pose unique challenges, they also have the promise of resonating and evoking emotional responses like never before.