- Luxury hotel chain Ritz-Carlton is running a 360-degree virtual reality (VR) ad on The Wall Street Journal's web homepage to promote its rewards credit card. The brand partnered with tech company OmniVirt for the "Inside the Moment" campaign, which will last through August, according to a press release provided to Marketing Dive.
- The ad lets viewers navigate through nine neighborhoods in San Francisco and New Orleans, among other cities, and includes interactive elements like tappable points of interest for viewers to learn details and history of the area in a mobile-friendly format.
- A YouTube demonstration of the ad shows how a viewer can move a smartphone to view the virtual setting. Viewers can tap hot spots in the video to learn more about the hotel brand and the nine locations the ad showcases. The ad includes links to encourage viewers to inquire about the Ritz-Carlton Rewards credit card.
What might be the most significant aspect of the campaign is the brand and its ad placement more than the technology itself. While the 360-degree format has been available for awhile — other recent efforts include OmniVirt's interactive video ad for the airline Cathay Pacific, rolled out at the beginning of the month — the combination of a major luxury brand like Ritz-Carlton using the tech on the homepage of a major publisher like The Wall Street Journal points to the growing traction of immersive online brand experiences.
Engaging viewers with ads remains a key issue for marketers as they contend with ad blockers, short attention spans and hurdles with technical platforms. Ritz-Carlton and OmniVirt are trying to make the hotel brand's latest campaign more immersive for users who want to explore the perks of the brand's credit card and check out new destinations by moving their smartphone around or dragging their computer mouse across the screen to rotate the view.
Industry research points to a rising trend in interactive ads, with a study from Wyzowl finding almost 25% of marketing professionals and video production and content marketing agencies have used interactive ads in their strategies. That figure is expected to rise to 43% this year. Though 360-degree content is arguably not true VR, it does give users more control of what they experience and look at, as the tool is somewhat of a "choose-your-own-adventure" format.