Last March YouTube let creators share much more in their videos than just what met the viewer’s eyes. The Google-owned video sharing network rolled out support for 360-degree video uploads, courtesy of which viewers could choose to watch anywhere they wanted to.
Viewers could now see the stage and the crowd at a concert, the sky or the ground as one glided along, or see a different story depending on where they looked. All they needed to do is watch the video on their Android YouTube app by moving the phone or tablet around to see all the different angles while the video plays. On Chrome browsers, they could use their mouse to drag the point of view around.
The possibilities could be endless. Give your viewers a 360-degree view or literally a virtual experience of your grand event. Show them the thrills of hitting a roller coaster ride at your amusement park. Bring alive your well designed living rooms and workspaces, or simply let your viewers decide what story they’d like to follow.
For video content creators, and by extension brands, YouTube 360 degree video became the new content tool to be toyed around with. And when there’s potential, there are players. Rohit Shetty’s Dilwale starring Shah Rukh Khan and Kajol, rolled out a ‘making of’ video for one of its number, Janam Janam. As I was on a desktop, it wasn’t much of an immersive experience for me; I was yet to watch it on my YouTube app.
Then came Star Plus, the channel that chose to explore it first in India, to bring alive its dance reality show – Dance Plus. “Rotate your device in all directions, look left, look right, and you will find dancers everywhere,” is what it said and I finally managed to watch a 360-degree video on my phone. It was crazy, it was fun, I watched it many times over and every time I tilted my phone in a new direction so I didn’t miss out on any of the action on stage.
The 360-degree video had me hooked – its uses could be indeed interesting for brands. Quite a few Indian brands have explored the technology since its launch, but are yet to tap its fun potential.
The King of Good Times, Kingfisher the beer brand made some cool use of 360, it brought its viewers a 360-degree video experience for ‘Kingfisher 360 Cities’ – a series of 360-degree virtual tours of various cities. This 2-minute one brings alive the beaches of Goa:
HDFC leveraged 360-degree to give viewers a sneak peek into the life of a HDFC Bank Diners Club Credit cardholder. Not very exciting to watch with the constant ad-like copy breaking into the virtual experience, but the bank is probably the first in the BFSI space to explore a YouTube 360.
A 360-degree YouTube video marked the launch of a campaign last year. Tata Coffee Grand’s video brought alive a 360 degree view of the company’s coffee plantations to the virtual audience. The coffee brand took us along to see where its Arabicas and Robustas were grown, picked, pulped and dried.
For the new Royal Enfield Himalayan, the brand’s most versatile bike, what’s better than a 360-degree tour from the seat of one! This short ride video gives you the experience of riding in the Himalayas, complete with the sounds of the machine and the surface it’s riding on.
For MRF Tyres’ #RideTheThrill campaign, brand ambassador Virat Kohli raced with bikers at a thrill circuit. The ride was captured in a 360-degree video taking viewers along with Virat.
And for all those who’ve missed out on a Mumbai Darshan in the maximum city, here’s Being Indian’s 360-degree video tour of Mumbai.
This year will be more favourable to YouTube 360-degree videos, as video content consumption on mobile rises even further. But, the success of the format depends entirely on how immersive the experience is for a viewer, else it’s better to stick with the regular YouTube videos. Brands looking to bring an experiential factor to their campaigns, brands in the business of amusement parks and travel & tourism, or just about anybody looking to bring alive their moments with the audience on the other side, YouTube 360 is a cool bet.