- Discovery launched an immersive 360-degree banner ad powered by OmniVirt technology to promote its annual "Shark Week" slate of programming, according to an OmniVirt press release made available to Marketing Dive. The "Shark Storm" video places users underwater amongst a school of hammerhead sharks.
- Sponsored by Quicken Loans' Rocket Mortgage, the immersive banner is featured on Discovery's web homepage and aims to drive adoption of the network's virtual reality (VR) app with mainstream audiences, the release said.
- With a second click, users are sent to a "Shark Week" gallery promoting Discovery's VR app, which already has seven Shark Week-themed 360-degree videos, as well as content from shows like "Mythbusters" and "Deadliest Catch."
While VR and augmented reality (AR) are still relatively early days from a marketing standpoint, more publishers and media companies are taking the plunge into using the tech and embracing it as an innovative and eye-catching platform for advertising. Discovery and OmniVirt have clearly found a compelling use here, dunking viewers into an immersive environment where the presence and potential threat of sharks can be more readily felt.
Although VR is best experienced with a headset, consumers have been slow to adopt the hardware — likely because of its steep price tag and clunky look. Only 2.9% of the U.S. population will use a VR headset at least monthly this year, according to eMarketer. That number is forecast to grow to 5.2% by 2019 thanks to audience segments like video game fans, however.
Platforms like YouTube and the widespread adoption of smartphones, along with more robust apps like Discovery's that offer content catered to immersive storytelling formats, will likely help further drive viewership of 360-degree videos, which eMarketer classifies as a form of VR.