The New 'New Media' Is Coming
The first time I saw a 360-degree video on Facebook, I didn't know what it was. It was an immersive WWII recreation with tanks and explosions and soldiers running past. I didn't even realize I could turn my phone to change the view. I wondered why it seemed like everyone ran behind me, had no idea I was just pointing the wrong way.
That was before I wrote this blog post about Megadeth turning their album into a virtual reality dystopia. Before I started seeing Liberty Mutual and The Jungle Book 360-degree video ads on Facebook that have to be viewed on a phone, tablet or 3d viewer (so this next video is to view on one of those, not your computer).
Before i went to Adobe Summit and saw a 360-degree camera sitting on the stage between Tom Middleditch and Steve Hammond during the "Sneaks." Adobe gave Cardboard-style VR viewers to VIP attendees to check out the VR experience.
That's just a few of the companies coming out strong behind virtual reality video (without even getting into the Oculus Rift, which is on sale now). But VR isn't the only "new media" worth considering. Alone it'd just be another fad, there's more.
For example, TV ad spending has begun to decline, and is being surpassed by online display spending. That's hardly surprising, since TV viewership has also been on the decline, especially among under-50 viewers. At the same time, streaming video viewership is up, with half of Americans partaking.
That streaming viewership isn't staying on the TV, either. Much of it is happening on personal devices. According to the "App Annie Index: Market Q1 2016" report, entertainment revenue from mobile apps such as Netflix and HBO Go more than doubled from Q1 2015 to Q1 2016.
And streaming video is gaining capabilities. Beyond 360 videos, which are interactive by necessity, Facebook has also introduce videos that are interactive on any device. That's barely a video anymore, it's more like a video game.
Gaming is also becoming a bigger part of the overall media picture. Nielsen reports that 50 percent of Americans 13 and over play games on mobile devices. That goes equally for men and women, and the average age of those gamers is 36. (It's good to know my wife and I aren't the only ones fiddling with mobile games while we watch TV on a random weeknight. But then the games we're playing are both TV-related: Star Trek for me, and Simpsons and Family Guy for her.)
Over the past five years, the big shift in media has been to streaming entertainment and enabling streaming everywhere, from the living room TV to your train ride to work. Better mobile networks and bigger screen devices enabled the latter. A range of home media solutions — from smart TVs to video game consoles and dedicated streaming media devices — connected the former.
Now, the emerging new media are more intimate and individualized. VR viewers (many of which use your phone as the screen) don't just bring the entertainment to you, they pull you away form your environment to put you into the immersive entertainment experience. Increasing use of streaming apps on mobile, especially paid streaming apps, brings you to exactly the media you want to watch. And that's not a platform meant for sharing. Interactive video is not, by nature, "2-player co-op."
This all reminds me of the Walkman effect in the 80s. Our shared media experience is quickly becoming the personal media experience.
So what will the new media advertising experience look like? These screens don't have enormous side rails to fit ads, and interrupting ads will ruin the immersive experience. Where does that leave marketers?
I have no idea. But I know it's coming.