360 is an exciting new tech among an ever-growing arsenal of tools for brands. Its key strengths are the depths of immersion and levels of engagement that it gives. There is a lot of chatter about 360 video at the moment with everyone from Mark Zuckerberg to Nicola Mendelsohn throwing their executive weight behind it.

Google has recently carried out a side-by-side trial of a 60 second 360 video ad and a standard format video as well as full-length versions. The ads ended in a specific, measurable call to action, were unlisted and unpromoted and only appeared through in-stream campaigns or peer-to-peer sharing.

They found some interesting results. While the 360 version had a lower view-through rate, it had a higher click-through rate, along with more views, shares and subscribes. There was a 46 percent higher view count of the full-length 360 video than on the standard full-length version. People who viewed the 360 video were more likely to share it copying the URL into messaging apps. As a result, the 360 ad was more cost-efficient as its cost-per-view was lower when organic and paid views were added together. People who do engage with 360 like it, as seen through their interaction with CTAs, engagement with the brand, and sharing with others.

 

When it comes down to it, 360 video is powerful because it combines two routes into immersion and engagement. The first-person exploration potential of Google Street View—still a powerful tool for wandering through familiar and unfamiliar places, nearly 10 years after launch—meets the emotional storytelling potential of an intimate smartphone-based video.

What makes 360 especially effective is that viewers (or perhaps ‘users’ is a more appropriate term) influence what they see and can take direct control of the narrative, or point of view. Psychological studies have shown that people feel more affinity to things that they control (part of the theory of the extension of personal self) and this programming of the human mind helps 360 connect on a deeper level than normal video.