November 22, 2017 Brett Singer

How Do People Watch 360 Videos?

Understanding where, how and who watches video with this new technology will make your storytelling more effective

While the public’s access to 360 videos used to be limited to the rare IMAX visit, today anyone can watch a 360 video with the help of their smartphone or gaming console. That’s made 360 videos more popular than ever, with these immersive clips racking up millions of views on social media. As with any video, it’s important to know your audience, and with 360 video it’s equally important to understand where and how they’re watching. Here’s the latest on 360 viewership habits.

How People Are Watching 360 Videos

Viewers don’t need expensive equipment to check out 360 videos—in fact, most smartphones can be used to watch 360 videos interactively. They’re supported on social media sites like Facebook and Twitter, and to interact with a 360 video, users just need to hit play and move around their phone to see the action unfold from any angle. Low-tech and high-tech headsets like Google Cardboard lean on smartphone interactivity while using hardware to help audiences feel “immersed” in their 360 videos, looking around by simply turning their heads.

Viewers can even use a computer to interact with a 360 video, though the experience is less interactive: instead of taking cues from your motions, you simply change the angle with the click of a mouse. For a 360 video experience you can control, and in some cases, manipulate, gaming consoles are even starting to incorporate 360 tech into their gameplay. The PS4 will display 360 videos and photos if players connect a PlayStation VR to the system, and with compatible games players can move around the digital objects that surround them.

Who’s Watching 360 Videos

Who are the viewers behind all these shares? An analysis from Nielsen found a quarter of U.S. consumers aged 18-54 said they were likely to use VR technology in 2017. The people in this group tended to be higher-income “urban professionals” who advocate for specific products and causes they believe in. These people were also more likely to donate to a charity, contact an elected representative and volunteer at a non-profit organization, according to Nielsen. And people who watched a 360 video featuring a cause or organization were likely to remember it than those who watched a more conventional ad that played in the middle of a video. Nearly half of those who watched the 360 video were likely to donate to the group afterward—higher than the 38 percent who watched the midroll ad. 360 video viewers are smart, motivated and loyal to the brands they feel connected to.

Why 360 Videos Are Clicking With Viewers

360 videos have a higher click-through rate and interaction rate than standard, “flat” videos, according to a study from Google. That’s good news for companies: It means people watching 360 videos are more likely to click to watch a full video, or learn about the brand behind the clip, and are thus more likely to share the video or subscribe to the maker’s channel. But on the flipside: Google’s study also found 360 videos had a lower view-through rate, or rate of people watching the video through its end, than standard videos. That suggests “viewers aren’t always in the mood to interact with 360 video,” according to Google. That means you should make your 360 videos matter: one meaningful, thoughtful and strategic video can really make an impact, and throwaway videos where you propped up a camera and walked away aren’t worth your time. That’s why it’s so important to get it right.

360 videos can pull the audience into a story like few other platforms, and no one understands how to nail it better than we do. Contact Bottle Rocket Media today to get started on an immersive video that will connect with your audience.

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