Get ready for a new range of video experiences in your Facebook News Feed. As previewed by CEO Mark Zuckerberg at Facebook's F8 conference back in March, Facebook has today announced that 360 degree immersive videos will now be available in your News Feed.
This is one of the first 360 degree videos available, a trip through the Jakku desert from the upcoming film 'Star Wars: The Force Awakens' - which would be impressive even without the capacity to look around and see it from all angles, but the option to interact and look around is pretty amazing.
From the official announcement:
"...when the video is playing on Facebook, you can choose what angle you want to see it from. On the web you can do this by dragging around the video with your cursor, and on mobile devices you do it by dragging with your finger - or even just by turning your device. You'll be able to hold up your phone and the 360 video will follow you as you turn, looking around, to experience things from all over the world like never before."
To mark the occasion, several publishers have posted 360 degree videos today, including Star Wars (as highlighted in Facebook's video above), Discovery, GoPro and NBA star LeBron James, who gives fans an interactive snippet of his training regime.
Striving For Greatness: An UNINTERRUPTED Original
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Of course, Facebook's not the first social network to provide this functionality - YouTube announced support for 360-degree uploads back in March, around the same time as Zuckerberg flagged that they were on their way to The Social Network. The introduction of 360-degree content on Facebook sets the stage for the next video battleground between the pair, with the numbers showing that Facebook's closing in on YouTube for total daily video views, particularly on mobile. This is no doubt a significant factor behind the increased organic reach for natively posted videos on Facebook - improved reach for native content means more people uploading more content direct, as opposed to posting YouTube links (Facebook's even gone so far as to alert people posting YouTube links that they'd be better off posting the content direct). And if Facebook can take the lead, it positions itself to take a larger share of the global video market, which is the fastest growing advertising category in the world, according to ZenithOptimedia.
Immersive video content, which will next move into virtual reality, is the next era for video marketing, and this is Facebook stepping forward and flagging its intention to be the leading video platform on the web. As noted in the announcement:
"In the future, imagine watching 360 videos of a friend's vacation to a small village in France or a festival in Brazil - you'll be able to look around and experience it as if you were there. Along with updates from your friends and family, you will also be able to discover amazing new content on Facebook from media companies, organizations, and individual creators."
This is a pretty compelling narrative, and while not all PCs and iOS devices are up to handling the full requirements of seamless, 360 degree and VR experiences just yet, we're starting to see the next level of video content, and the next plane of creativity for video advertisers. The idea that soon people will be walking around with camera belts, capturing their lives in 360 degrees, seems weird - we've only just gotten used to people pulling faces at their outstretched phones or waving them out in front on a stick. But the introduction of 360 degree video on Facebook signals just that. New technologies bring about new opportunities, and it'll be interesting to see the ways in which this new option is utilized.
I, for one, am looking forward to seeing how creators use this new canvas.