Virtual reality (VR) is quickly expanding from game -based content to news, drama, documentaries and even comedy, powered by a new generation of film- makers. At Cannes, I hosted a Publicis Media discussion on the Entertainment stage with two leading players in the space: Bryn Mooser, CEO/Co-Founder of RYOT and Thalia Mavros, Founder/CEO of online video network The Front. Three themes emerged:

HARNESSING THE ENGAGEMENT POWER OF VR:

Publicis Media’s bespoke Mobile VR research with Samsung proves that VR content has 2x greater impact on emotional engagement (as measured biometrically) and brand recall is significantly higher. The key is identifying exactly what experience brands want to immerse the target audience. This should, of course, be a deliberate value exchange that benefits both consumers and brands.

ADDRESSING THE MISSING “WATERCOOLER EFFECT”:

Currently, we are missing a – watercooler effect” for VR content, which presents a challenge to the entry of such programming into the public consciousness. In a world where social currency is a must, giving audiences the ability to share clips or highlights is more important than ever, yet this is currently not possible in VR. We expect media and tech companies will crack this issue on a technical level, but they must also learn from the linear offline world of scheduling, where paid promotion and the concept of a screening – window” have powered talkability and buzz.

GENRE EXPANSION AND INTERACTIVITY:

There is a huge appetite from production companies to involve brands early on in the creative development process for comedy and scripted genres, so that brands can intelligently add value to the VR experience via a unique perspective or level of talent access, for example. For brands brave enough to experiment now, they will earn valuable levels of both engagement and differentiation versus their competitors. Brand -relevant involvement, dedicated distribution via owned brand channels and promotion strategies will be vital for the scaled success of any brand’s VR initiative.

Author: Mark Waugh, Global Managing Director, Content, Publicis Media