Virtual reality is the next frontier of consumer entertainment, easily on track to supplement and/or replace both televisions and computer monitors as the main avenue for consuming video content in households around the world. Digit-Capital forecasts VR as a $30 billion market by 2020, and it’s only going to grow.
This makes 360-degree, spherical video an important tool for marketing both today and tomorrow, and large automakers like Audi, Mercedes and BMW are already on board, using VR technology to create unique experiences for consumers and engineers alike.
Check out this FFZero1 concept car test drive in 360-degree video, and (since you’re not reading this on a VR headset) use your mouse to click the video and drag in different directions to see the views:
When it comes to cars, the easiest way to generate sales is to allow customers to visualize what it’s like driving your inventory. Although test drives are great, people tend to perform their own research online before ever stepping foot on a dealer’s showroom floor.
Using spherical video, auto dealers can provide the experience of driving their cars in exotic locales (Audi will even let you drive on the moon) from the comfort of their homes, building brand affinity and driving conversions in ways never before imagined.
How Spherical Video Works
Creating spherical video isn’t as difficult as it sounds. It requires a 360-degree camera and a process known as video stitching, although this is mostly taken care of by the camera’s software and social media platform on which you’re publishing the video.
Videographers with basic video editing skills can easily transfer them to spherical video editing, as explained by Antonio Calero at Social Media Examiner.
Both Facebook (which owns leading VR headset manufacturer Oculus) and YouTube employed 360-degree video features in the past two years, and each platform has attracted a slew of exclusive videos, such as Facebook’s Star Wars VR experience and YouTube’s Skies of Azeroth VR experience.
These experiences helped hype up the latest Star Wars and Warcraft movie releases while whetting audiences’ appetites for their respective VR platforms.
VR headsets to view spherical video are commercially available ranging from Google Cardboard’s (nearly) free version, which uses your smartphone for a screen and can be branded by companies like Unofficial Cardboard and used as business cards to the $800 HTC Vive, which requires a high-powered gaming PC setup to operate with tons of options in between.
While the high-end Vive and Oculus Rift are prefered for interactive gaming experiences, on-rails spherical video can be viewed on nearly any modern smartphone using Cardboard, a Viewmaster, or other options, making it an optimal marketing venue.
Interactive experiences require AutoCAD to create explorable 3D worlds, but driving a car is done sitting down and can be a passive VR experience.
To record a spherical automotive ad, all you need is a 360-degree camera like the Rico Theta S, Kodak PixPro SP360 4K, GoPro 360 Heros, Sphericam, or the Disney-backed Jaunt VR, which is currently being used by Hollywood professionals to film the next generation of cinematic experiences.
When researching 360-degree cameras, understand that you’ll often need more than one camera to capture a full 360 degrees. For example two PixPros or 8 GoPros are necessary to accomplish the task of creating a fully immersive VR driving experience.
Once you have the video created, distribution should be your focus.
Where to Publish Spherical Video
Aside from both YouTube and Facebook 360, there’s no shortage of platforms to feature your spherical video experiences.
krpano Panorama Viewer – Although it takes some manual work, krpano.com has a great platform for featuring 360-degree photos and interactive tours on your website. It’s widely used by the 360 community, but is recommended for advanced users.
Vrideo – Available on Android, iOS, Steam VR, and Oculus, Vrideo is a YouTube-like app that allows users to search for spherical video content. Scenic drives that feature the interior of luxury vehicles or adventures in offroading will do well here.
Virtually Live – Marketed as the home for live events, Virtually Live is building a community of users interested in VR experiences of live sports, concerts, festivals, and other events. This makes it an ideal platform to post videos of your sports cars in action on the track or SUVs and trucks offroading.
And of course, you can upload spherical video to both Facebook and YouTube the same way you upload regular video to make it accessible to viewers.
Why Use Spherical Video
The New York Times famously sent Google Cardboard headsets to its over 1 million subscribers to help jumpstart the movement to VR. Millennials are especially receptive to the technology, and this is an audience car dealerships need to cater to.
Advertising Age recently published research that found auto manufacturers are increasingly using VR to cater to tech-savvy Millennials. The technology has been dubbed the “sleeping giant” in automobile marketing.
In addition to the brands mentioned above, Cadillac, Toyota, Ifiniti, and more are jumping on board the VR wagon.
With manufacturers already creating professional quality spherical content, it’s up to dealers to begin integrating it in their web presences to help draw that traffic into their dealerships. By integrating these pre-made videos along with creating your own, your dealership will have a presence on a growing platform.
Getting Started with Spherical Video
If this is all too confusing for you or you’re unable to invest in the necessary equipment to get started in VR, Make Your Mark has exciting news for you. We’re well versed in spherical video and already have a 360-degree camera ready.
We’re also experienced in digital marketing for the automotive industry, so we understand the nuances of creating online video, photo, and other content for auto dealerships and manufacturers.
To get started marketing your inventory of new or used cars, trucks, SUVs, motorcycles, even RVs, boats, and off-road toys, contact one of our digital marketing experts today.