Immersive content – what is it and should you be using it?
Laura Newman-Cardwell, June 2015

Laura Newman-Cardwell is creative producer and project manager at Output Group, working for both Studio Output and Allez! Studio. Here she outlines how immersive content can create genuine engagement between brands and their customers, when marketers should use it and how to maximise its full potential.

We’ve found that the most forward-thinking brands want to take experiential concepts further to really engage with their audiences on a much deeper level. Why? Because consumers are more demanding than ever and getting a message across in a way that can make a brand stand out from the crowd is becoming increasingly difficult. To tell their story, marketers and brands must take note and create shareable and meaningful experiences that resonate with their audience.

We are screen-tired; it’s a fact. We’re spending more time than ever taking selfies, on messaging apps, on social networking sites, general online browsing and everything in between. No surprise then that it’s becoming increasing unlikely an individual piece of content will catch our eye. We live most of our daily lives digitally via phones, TVs and computers so creating an experience that is real provides audiences with something different to respond to.

Immersive content is one of the ways brands are challenging the existing status quo. In its simplest form, immersive content is a multi-sensory experience designed to tell a story. To create truly immersive content, it must allow the consumer to become a part of the story through the use of his or her own interaction and imagination – at this point an experience is elevated from being passive to personal. Then, at that moment of genuine human connection, brands can make a lasting impact on their audience.

In order to execute the experience to maximum effect, brands must deliver their message consistently across all channels they use. If they get this right, immersive content can be a significant brand tool. It has the ability to cut through the daily information overload by producing a meaningful and emotional connection between brand and consumer. By converting your consumers into brand advocates in this way, they make the sale for you, which is evermore important as people are wiser to the hard sell from brands.

However, whilst we are bringing something new and exciting to audiences, we don’t want it to be the default route for brands and marketers. The beauty of immersive content and experiences at the moment is in the seamless art of the execution. If the final delivery is clunky or disjointed with virtual reality integration for example, then the brand will be judged negatively just as instantly as the magic is lost. As a marketer, it is your job to think carefully whether immersive content is the best way forward, and if yes, then how will you achieve the desired, effortless effect.

So what’s the future of immersive content?

A truly immersive experience does not need technology but through our work with some of the world’s biggest brands we’ve found that it can encourage your audience to become completely lost in the moment, making it truly immersive. The ability for technology to surround your audience physically, for example an Oculus Rift headpiece, means their focus is directed by the images and minimal distractions can occur.

There’s no doubt in our minds that immersive content will become a significant brand tool. It’s exciting to think how constant advancements in technology will see it evolve into something we can’t even imagine now, such as the integration of augmented reality into gaming.

Due to its nature, the fan engagement reach is relatively small, but the digital amplification of ideas can be massive. We believe in always having a strong digital footprint for everything we do, allowing for experiences to be shared far beyond those that were there. This is crucial for brands to make the most of their activity. If you get it right, immersive content will do the hard work for you, leaving you with brand ambassadors spreading your message organically.

Top five things to consider

  1. Technology should never become the idea
  2. Work with experts
  3. Don’t do the hard sell, engage brand advocates
  4. Deliver a seamless, integrated experience
  5. Support immersive content/experiences with a strong digital amplification strategy