Virtual Reality or “VR” is a 3D computer-generated simulation, which can usually be experienced when wearing headgear such as Facebook’s Oculus Rift or Google Cardboard. When wearing these sets, the user can “travel” to any scenario in the comfort of their own home. The concept of VR isn’t a new one though, as many companies have created their own versions dating back to the 1950s.

360 video is shot using a 360 camera, which captures all angles from which the camera person is standing, meaning that when the viewer comes to watch the video, they can “move” around it by moving their mobile device. This is a relatively new concept which you may have seen on your Facebook feed.

Let’s compare the two; how do they differ?

  1. How it’s filmed – With VR, the environment the user sees through the headset is computer generated, and therefore not real. This gives creators freedom to make multiple types of digital fantasy worlds. 360 video, however, is live action, and shows real places on Earth, as filmed by a cameraman.
  2. Where the user can move to – When wearing the VR headset, the user is free to walk around wherever they want in the digital world. With 360 video, the user is limited to the cameraman’s pre-recorded movements, and so this doesn’t give such a flexible experience.
  3. Timing of the video – The user can experience many different events in a VR world that is made to be explored, and so the only end to the journey is when the user decides to take off the headset. 360 video, on the other hand, comes to a stop once the cameraman stops recording, making it a 5 minute video for example.
  4. What platform? – Virtual Reality only uses a headset, so the user can truly see and experience the VR world they’re exploring. 360 video is limited to mobile and some 360 compatible desktops. This means that the user has to look at a screen, and can move around by either moving their phone or touching the screen.

With technology advancing, many companies are investing their time into making VR even better so they can start using it in their marketing campaigns.

Currently there are still some cons to both VR and 360 video, but do they outweigh the pros?

Pros Cons
Technology – The technology used to make these videos is slowly but surely improving. The current tech makes the imaging look realistic in terms of VR, which makes for a great user experience. Technology – Because we’re still in the early stages of VR, there are some bugs that are to be worked on such as glitches.
Availability – A VR headset can be purchased and used all around the world. Similarly, a 360 video can be viewed from any location. Expensive – This is not so much for the 360 video, as a lot of people have the right devices to view these, but for the full VR experience the user would need to buy a headset, which can range in price but are generally expensive.
Multiple uses – Although primarily used for gaming, a VR headset can also be used in other sectors such as education, training or marketing and advertising. The same can be applied for 360 video. Advertising – As aforementioned, advertising can be one use of VR and 360 videos. The only problem with this is that these adverts need to be very well made to work properly, or else the audience will have a negative experience and perhaps disregard buying the advertised product.
Engagement – Whether it be a VR or 360 video, there’s no doubt that these are more engaging for the audience compared to a normal flat video. The fact that the user can explore for themselves makes for a more memorable and enjoyable experience. Real-life engagement – When wearing the VR headset, users are cut off from the real world as their eyes are diverted to the world they see before them. This could become a problem if users use the headset too much as it would mean that there would be no more real-life engagement between people and families.
Experience – Both types of video can allow people to “travel” to places that they may not get the chance to in real life. A dream holiday destination, for example. Experience – In testing, some people had experienced motion sickness when wearing the VR headset. This is something that developers are reportedly working on.

Both VR and 360 video are only growing in terms of usability and engagement. Once the technology is fully developed, we’ll be seeing more VR in marketing and advertising, which means more audience interactivity. One recent example of 360 video in marketing is the virtual tour of Buckingham Palace. By using the technology available The British Monarchy have been able to create an immersive tour of the Royal Palace, which could be reproduced for advertising from a travel company for example. There are so many opportunities out there currently, but it requires a lot of time and effort to make it work to its full potential. Virtual Reality is only just getting started, and will be a huge thing in the upcoming years.