Live 360-Degree Video Would Attract Attention, But Would It Help Marketers?
A new report that Google’s YouTube is actively working toward tech in support of live-streaming 360-degree video gets two thumbs up and one down.
Perhaps you’re still trying to wrap your head around 360-degree recorded video, where you click to play and then navigate inside the window:
If you are, get ready for the next step. BuzzFeed News reports that YouTube is now working on the development of live 360-degree video.
It cited unnamed “multiple sources” who contend the Google-owned video platform has been talking to camera makers about enabling such tech, although it’s not yet clear when such a capability might emerge.
One of the biggest technical challenges of live 360-degree video is the need for multiple-camera, synced videos to be stitched together perfectly in real time, instead of during uploading or later. This assumes that the cameras are all the same, or at least all conform to the exact same specs. YouTube has declined to comment on the report.
Live 360-degree video would certainly have a “wow” factor. But would it do anything for marketers and advertisers?
Forrester analyst Jim Nail is bearish on the possibilities.
“Like virtual reality,” he told me via email, 360-degree video “is a technology in search of a problem.”
“Yes, there are some limited applications where they make sense,” he said, like video games and sports. “But there is no overarching, compelling benefit that will make this a defining technology for consumers, or marketers.”
In fact, he felt comfortable dropping live 360-degree video into the same bin as — gasp! – such has-been revolutionary tech as 3-D TV and the Segway.
The much-hyped 3-D TV, he pointed out, is now “nowhere,” having interfered “with the consumer viewing experience [more] than it did enhance it.” And the Segway “now is a convenience for mall cops and a novelty for tourists.”
All About Attention
But Brett Sappington, director of research at research firm Parks Associates, is more sanguine.
“Advertising is all about attracting attention,” he pointed out, and live 360-view content is certainly attention-grabbing.
He noted that live 360-degree promotions of some kinds of products or services –- think vacations, auto test drives, destinations or events — could “provide a level of immersion that is pretty compelling.”
But the format’s strength could play against those marketers who want to place an actual ad, Sappington suggested.
“With a typical video ad, all of the action is within the user’s field of vision,” he said. “In a 360 environment, the director will need to capture the user’s attention in order to communicate branding or a call-to-action.”
And if it’s too subtly placed in the environment, the consumer may miss the message. Plus live events have a way of being unpredictable.
But there’s also the possibility that users find live-360 so intriguing that they eagerly explore it, thus presenting extraordinary opportunities for discovering content and messaging. And linked live 360-degree video environments — where you click on part of an image inside the bubble and go to another one — are undoubtedly on the drawing board, setting up ways to thoroughly navigate remote, live events.
Stephen Golub, vice president of digital marketing/ad firm DXagency, also votes yes.
He noted that 360-degree video puts viewers in control and added that live 360-degree video can be employed for news broadcasts, sporting events and concerts. Users “will be able to focus on their favorite musician, scan the venue, hear and see the crowd around them, and truly feel what it’s like to be there.”
Brands will want to sponsor these live events, Golub said, like a car company debuting a new model that viewers can tour.
Live 360-degree video would add to Google’s growing portfolio of beyond-plain video. In June, its Google Cardboard viewer added support for head movement-navigation inside a 360-degree video. And last November, Google added depth and perspective.