While virtual reality gets all the media attention, the format's less-heralded sibling, 360 video, is swiftly gaining traction among consumers. According to research from Google, 360-degree video ads drive 41% more earned actions (views, shares and subscribes) than standard ads (Google, 2016). YouTube's year-old 360 video channel now boasts over two million subscribers.
Every major platform is getting in on the action. In March 2017, US streaming service Vimeo introduced support for this format to "usher in a new wave of immersive content that sets the standard for cinematic quality and powerful narratives in a 360 environment", according to Anjali Sud, general manager of Vimeo's Creator Platform.
Later that month, Snapchat ran its first ever live-streamed 360 ad in partnership with US media giant Turner to promote the latter's truTV series Upscale with Prentice Penny. In an April update, Facebook Live now supports 360 live-streaming, meaning any Facebook user with a compatible camera – such as the Samsung Gear 360 – can live-stream 360 video direct to their Facebook page.
The latest brand to experiment with the format is Nissan. In April, the Japanese automaker teamed up with Disney's Lucasfilm production studio on a 360 video promoting its latest Rogue car model. Combining Star Wars characters with the immersiveness of 360 has paid off: in less than a week, the video has racked up half a million views on YouTube.