Perhaps the most powerful driver of “digital transformation” has been the smart phone. And perhaps the most notable “transformation” as been the rise of video as a tool for discussion and social interaction.
In a wide-ranging report, The Future of Video, Feng Li of London’s Cass Business School, writes that “video is not simply an important part of the online experience increasingly — video is the internet.” Yet, he writes, “most consumption of online video remains very similar to watching TV via the internet.”
YouTube HD videos can be viewed on a smart phone using Google Cardboard, allowing for a more up-close video experience.
360-degree video is becoming a standard tool for journalists.
Virtual Reality video, which I wrote about recently, does provide a new kind of video experience for mobile viewers — made possible by the compass built into your smart phone — that is very different from linear video. It’s increasingly popular, as evidenced by the growing number of VR videos on YouTube.
Interactive video for tech marketing: pity the salesperson
Another type of video experience new to most smart phone users is “interactive” video where the viewer can take charge of the video experience by clicking objects on the screen. That’s not quite as natural as just looking around, as you do with VR. But it forces you to think. Though much-used in eLearning, interactive video has been widely ignored by marketers for more than a decade. That may be about to change.
Why? Well, up to now, interactive video has not been easy to deliver on the iPhone. You needed to create an app — and get the viewer to download it. That’s fine for eLearning, where the viewer is motivated (or required) to learn. But for consumer or B2B buyers, it’s not very practical.
Put yourself in the place of a salesperson trying to get a prospect to interact with a video that contains clickable chapters or other opportunities to choose content. If you send a link to that video via email, there’s a high probability that the email (and its links) will be viewed on a mobile device. And, if it’s an iOS device, Apple’s QuickTime app will take over from the browser to display the video — but none of the clickable objects.
I’ve always thought of making IT marketing videos as a semi-journalistic exercise — there’s no pretense as to objectivity, but the video certainly ought to communicate something true and worth knowing about. I recently attended a panel discussion at the New York Times on the future of virtual reality in traditional journalism. The Times preemptively grabbed the leadership position in VR journalism in November 2015, when it added a VR experience to its wide assortment of graphics and video options. What caught everyone’s attention wasn’t so much the video — the Times has lots of that— but the distribution of more than a million Google Cardboard viewers with the Sunday paper.
The history of this skunk-works style project, brought off without conspicuous upper-level management support, is an interesting business case you can hear about in this Times Insider podcast of the event. What came across most forcefully was these editors’ conviction that VR can support the institution’s journalistic mission. That’s why they insisted on tying their first VR project to the biggest story at the time, millions of people displaced from their homes and homelands. What made this VR experience feasible in the first place, of course, is that Google Cardboard was the only “technology” the Times needed to distribute. They could count on subscribers’ smart phones to deliver the VR content. That’s why I think what the Times is doing with VR videos could be relevant to IT marketing videos.
IT marketing videos need stories. VR, maybe not.
The small team at The Times continues to struggle to define the role of VR in a journalistic enterprise. VR editor Jenna Pirog (the first, and still the only editor in journalism with “VR” in her title), agreed that VR by itself isn’t very efficient for story-telling. You don’t control the point-of-view, commentary is intrusive, and VR takes up a lot of the reader’s time. (Difficulties with fictional VR storytelling are discussed in this blog post).
NYT VR app and Google Cardboard. NY Times journalists agreed that one of the best applications for VR is to share an experience of place. That may be what’s best for I.T. video marketing, too.