Mountain Dew Debuts New VR Experience To Promote New Flavors

What Happened
Mountain Dew has unveiled a new virtual reality initiative as part of its “DEWcision 2016” campaign to promote two new flavors: Baja Blast and Pitch Black. Designed as a virtual racecar experience, the soft drink brand asks consumers to choose between two routes designed to correspond to the two new flavors as a way to gauge which is more popular. The company will set up a VR station at the JR Motorsports Fan Day in Mooresville, NC, and is distributing the content through Samsung’s Milk VR library, YouTube, and Facebook.

While this is Mountain Dew’s first VR experience for Oculus headsets, it is not the first time the soda brand has dived into virtual reality. Mountain Dew unveiled its first VR experience in 2014, which took viewers skateboarding through iconic spots in Las Vegas. Since then, it has experimented with several more VR and 360-degree video efforts to build up its branded content.

What Brands Need To Do
As more and more platforms start supporting VR and 360 video content, the mainstream audience is quickly gaining access to these types of immersive content, even if they don’t own a VR headset. For brands seeking to stay ahead of the digital curve, now is the time to take a cue from Mountain Dew to develop a library of branded VR content.

The Lab currently has four VR headsets — an Oculus Rift, an HTC Vive, and two Samsung Gear VRs — ready for demo. Virtual reality is something that has to be experienced to be understood. So come by the Lab and get a VR demo to see just how engaging it can be, and understand why consumers would be excited by this technology.


Source:  Digiday

Adobe Debuts New Tool To Put Ads And Product Placement In Virtual Reality

What Happened
Adobe is entering the world of virtual reality with new Adobe Primetime products. The company unveiled Virtual Cinema, a feature that will allow Primetime clients to develop customizable virtual environments for users to view traditional video content in. It aims to transport viewers into a cinema, a home theater, or a branded atmosphere, where product placement will also be possible.

Moreover, Adobe is adding a tool in Primetime that produces immersive videos that viewers can enjoy in 360 or 180 degrees with a Samsung Gear VR or Google Cardboard headset. Adobe is also enabling pre-roll, mid-roll, and post-roll ads for both 360 viewing and virtual cinema.

What Brands Need To Do
By introducing these tools, Adobe is opening the door for brand marketers to enter the virtual reality space. With the quickening pace of VR development and the increasing number of platforms supporting immersive video content, virtual reality is well-positioned to capture mainstream consumer attention soon. As the audience size for VR content continues to grow, brands need to be proactive in utilizing the new tools available to reach consumers in an engaging and immersive way.

Source: AdWeek

Publishers Bullish On VR And 360-Degree Videos At NewFronts

What Happened
Another year, another round of NewFronts where digital publishers tout their viewership numbers and hawk their video ad products. This year, a number of publishers seem to be quite bullish on virtual reality tech, choosing 360-degree video as a main selling point to attract advertisers. Refinery29, for example, plans to develop a weekly immersive video series on topics like music, sports, and travel starting this June via its new VR production arm VR29 Studios. The New York Times plans to double down on its VR commitment by shipping 300,000 more Google Cardboard headsets to its subscribers this year so that more readers can experience the NYT VR app it launched last year. Similarly, AOL and PopSugar are also among publishers that are incorporating immersive video content into their pitches at this year’s NewFronts.

What Brands Need To Do
As more publishers start to produce VR and 360-degree video content, it offers brands more opportunities to work with them to create new types of branded content. The New York Times, for example, has created half a dozen VR videos for brands like BMW Mini and Tag Heuer, and the publisher says some of those branded VR videos have been more successful than the non-branded VR content that it produced. As VR and 360-degree content continues to gain traction among consumers and publishers, brands have more options in choosing the publishers whose audience best matches with theirs to create immersive video experiences to engage with consumers.


Source: AdAge & AdWeek

YouTube Adds Support For 360-Degree Live Streaming

What Happened
YouTube reportedly started testing 360-degree live streaming on its platform in February, and today the online video giant is officially rolling out this feature. Select performances from this year’s Coachella festival will be one of first content to be live-streamed in 360 degrees. In addition, the Google-owned company is also opening up its “Live API,” allowing any camera manufacturer to integrate the capability of sending live-streams to YouTube to their products. Moreover, YouTube also added support for spatial audio for on-demand (recorded) videos to make the viewing experience more immersive.

Previously, YouTube worked with GoPro to create The GoPro Odyssey, a camera rig that allows for real-time stitching of 360-degree videos. The action camera maker is also building out its VR ecosystem as it launches a new VR content channel and a new tool for live-streaming high-quality 360-degree videos today.

What Brands Need To Do
By combining the immediacy of live-streaming and the immersion of 360-degree content, YouTube is providing brands with a great tool to amplify the reach of their sponsored events and engage with the massive number of YouTube users in real time. As virtual reality and live-streaming platforms and content creation tools continue to mature, brands should work closely with content creators to develop such content so as to connect with their audiences in innovative, exciting ways.


Source: TechCrunch and Engadget


Fast Forward: What Marketers Need To Know About Facebook’s F8 Event

Your guide to tech-driven changes in the media landscape by IPG Media Lab. A fast read for you and a forward for your clients and team.

• Facebook launched Messenger Platform to help brands to communicate with users
• Live Video with API strengthens video and video ads on Facebook
• New tools for app owners and VR content creators

Screen Shot 2016-04-12 at 1.10.50 PM

What Facebook Announced
At its annual developer conference on Wednesday, Facebook discussed their ten-year roadmap and introduced a number of new features to improve its platform and make it easier for brands to connect with Facebook users. Following Microsoft’s launch of a bot framework two weeks ago, Facebook is introducing chat bots and developer tools to its messaging app with the debut of Messenger Platform. During his opening keynote, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg demoed chat bots from CNN and 1-800-Flowers to showcase how chat bots can help publishers and businesses communicate with users on Messenger. While there will not be a curated bot store, the Messenger team does promise to help with discovery, mostly via search.

Facebook also introduced a Live API so that developers can live stream video to Facebook from any app or device. The new API should vastly expand the reach of Facebook’s Live video broadcasts as it allows lots of new broadcasting methods, like the use of multiple cameras, drones, and new devices. This is in sharp contrast to Facebook’s biggest live-stream competitor, Twitter’s Periscope, which requires streaming from a single smartphone. Therefore, FB Live can scale from a front-facing smartphone camera through TV production quality equipment and has already shown it can draw audiences that rival cable TV with the right content.

Moreover, Facebook is diving deeper into virtual reality with an open-source Surround 360 camera rig to help professional content creators capture 360-degree video with minimal post-processing. It is also looking to ship the Touch controllers for Oculus VR later this year to add interactivity to virtual reality. Zuckerberg also teased some multiplayer features that Facebook is working on to make virtual reality a more social experience.


Facebook continues to build out its ecosystem with to two new tools: Account Kit and a new “Save to Facebook” button. With Account Kit, developers can streamline account signup and login, extending the popular “Login with Facebook” feature to users without Facebook accounts. Facebook is also expanding the four-year-old “Save for Later” feature with a new “Save to Facebook” button, which enables users to save content from third-party sites to read or watch later in the Saved tab Facebook.

Facebook also shared some interesting stats on its fast-loading Instant Articles program. Since launch, Facebook says posts in Instant Articles have logged 20% more opens and a 70% lower abandonment rate than other content. They also report an average of 30 seconds of engagement on Canvas Ads.

What Brands Need To Do

• Develop useful bots to reach customers on the messaging apps they’re already using
• Take advantage of the emerging popularity of live streaming to connect with consumers in real time
• Start producing branded VR and 360 video content to immersively engage consumers

As Messenger hits 900 million monthly users, there is no denying that it is important for brands to be present on Facebook’s messaging platform to connect with those users. With the launch of Messenger Platform, Facebook is making it possible for brands to build bots to communicate and serve customers directly on Messenger. For example, Facebook showcased a shopping assistant bot from Spring, which suggests appropriate items for shoppers to purchase directly on Messenger. Facebook’s demo shows that chat bots can be trained with basic responses on a web interface with no code while more in-depth responses require custom development, aided by Facebook’s new Bot Engine tools. Particularly interesting here is the Customer Matching feature, which allows brands to sync up customer profiles and conversations across Messenger and SMS.


With the Live API, Facebook is making it easier for brands and developers to integrate its relatively new live-streaming feature into their apps, platforms, and even devices. As we noted recently, live-streaming video is starting to blow up thanks to Facebook. Live video content lends an authentic touch to brands, which millennials seem to embrace. For brands looking to experiment with live-streaming, they should be prepared on the technical front to ensure a smooth broadcast, but also willing to roll with the punches and embrace the unexpected.

As Facebook makes a strong push for VR and 360-degree videos, brands would be smart to seize the opportunity and work closely with content creators to craft interactive VR experiences to intrigue and engage consumers. The new Facebook Surround 360 camera should be a great tool for brands to produce 360-degree content, and the coming interactive and social features should help make virtual reality a more powerful tool for brands to create immersive branded content to engage their audiences with.

How We Can Help
The Lab is actively producing 360 content, chat bots, and live social video products for our clients. Please contact Client Services Director Samantha Holland ([email protected]) if you would like more detail or to schedule a visit to the Lab to discuss how your brand can better serve your customers with these emerging platforms.

For previous editions of Fast Forward, please visit Please reply with any constructive criticism or feedback. We want these to be as useful as possible for you and your clients, and your input will help us immensely.


All pictures featured courtesy of the F8 Livestream

Google Makes It Easier To Embed 360-Degree Content For Cardboard Viewing

What Happened
Google launched a new VR embedding tool called VR View to make 360-degree content more accessible. VR View allows developers to embed 360-degree photos and videos in their websites or apps to be viewed on Google’s Cardboard viewers or with a single-lens “Magic Window” viewer. The company also debuted an iOS version of its Cardboard SDK, which enables developers and brands to use Cardboard-compatible VR content in apps for Apple’s mobile devices.

What Brands Need To Do
360-degree content offers an immersive experience that brands should use to engage with customers. For example, hotels and realtors can use 360-degree photos to offer potential buyers virtual tours of their properties. With the new VR View and Cardboard iOS SDK, Google is making it easier for brands to incorporate 360-degree content into their sites and apps. For brands looking to stay ahead of the curve, now would be the time to start developing branded 360-degree content and make it easily accessible.


Source: TechCrunch

Expedia “Transports” Sick Kids To Exotic Locales With Live 360-Degree Installation

What Happened
As part of its St. Jude Dream Adventures campaign, travel booking site Expedia worked with its agency 180LA to create a live 360-degree video installation for children battling cancer at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis, Tenn. The installation filled the walls of a room with projections of 360-degree live views of exotic locales such as a national park in Argentina, the Monkey Jungle in Florida, and the Great Maya Reef in Mexico. Some Expedia employees were on location as virtual tour guides to show the kids the sites. You can watch the wonderful experiences those kids had on the campaign’s YouTube playlist.

What Brands Need To Do
Expedia is commendable for utilizing 360-degree live videos in this well-executed campaign for a heartwarming cause. Beyond this use case, such interactive installations also allow brands to engage consumers with an immersive experience that doesn’t require a bulky VR headset. For example, travel and hospitality brands could virtually transport customers to exciting locations to inspire travel and vacation destinations, whereas auto brands may use this technology to devise simulated test drives on advantageous and scenic routes.


Source: AdAge

Header image courtesy of Expedia’s YouTube Video

Aflac Insurance Creates A 360 Video Ad For Facebook

What Happened
Aflac Insurance is the latest brand to try out Facebook’s 360-degree video ads. Working with VaynerMedia, the insurer cast its brand mascot the Aflac Duck as a superhero coming to the rescue of customers rescue in an animated spherical video spot, which debuted on Facebook on Tuesday. The ad marks Aflac’s first entry into 360-degree videos and will run on Facebook for six weeks. The company is supporting the new digital effort with an additional social media push on Instagram and Twitter.

What Brands Need To Do
Facebook leveraged Oculus’s VR technology to bring 360-degree video support to the News Feed on the desktop web and its Android app last September, and later extending support to its iOS app in November. Around the same time, Facebook started to test 360-degree video ads with select brands, including AT&T, Samsung, and Walt Disney World. For brands wishing to engage consumers with immersive narratives, Facebook provides a good platform to promote branded 360-degree video content.


Source: AdAge

Header image courtesy of Aflac’s Facebook Page

Mobile World Congress 2016: Virtual Reality Becomes A Step Closer To Reality

What Happened
On the first day of the 2016 Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, several brands eagerly shared news about their latest development in virtual reality.

The HTC Vive, which made its big debut at MWC last year, returns with an official $799 price tag,a preorder date of February 29th, and an early April ship date. HTC also announced that its Vive headset will integrate some phone functions on both iOS and Android to allow users to answer calls, check text messages, and view calendar reminders without removing the headset. Similarly, LG is also making its entry into the burgeoning VR market with a pair of new products: the lightweight and compact LG 360 VR headset and the LG 360 CAM for capturing spherical photos and video. LG partnered with Google for easy sharing of videos to YouTube 360 and photos can even be uploaded right to Google Street View.

Samsung also returned to Barcelona with an aggressive push for its Gear VR headsets. The company made the consumer version of Gear VR available for $99.99 in November last year, and now it is giving out the VR headset for free with the purchase of its new Galaxy 7 phone for a limited time period. Samsung also brought in Mark Zuckerberg for its press event to talk up Facebook’s partnership with Samsung to support 360-degree videos on Facebook and working to make the VR experience more social. Moreover, Samsung also unveiled the Gear 360 camera that is just smaller than a baseball and aims to make shooting and sharing 360-degree photos and videos easier.

What Brands Need To Do
In line with what we saw at CES earlier this year, the news from MWC shows that virtual reality is quickly gaining momentum as a nascent medium, as more and more companies start developing affordable, consumer-facing VR headsets, as well as the tools for capturing, creating, and sharing 360-degree content. While virtual reality technologies may still be a few years away from mass adoption, as we predicted in the 2020 section in our Outlook 2016, companies like Samsung and Facebook are laying the groundwork for that to happen. For brands, this means that it is time to start exploring what VR technologies have to offer and consider developing branded VR content to excite and engage consumers with immersive experiences.


Header image courtesy of

YouTube To Combine Live Streaming With 360-Degree Videos

What Happened
You will soon be able to live stream 360-degree videos on YouTube, as the digital video platform looks to push deeper into virtual reality content with immersive live broadcasts. YouTube added live-streaming capability back in 2010, and introduced support for 360-degree videos in July last year. The Alphabet-owned company has been reportedly meeting with multiple 360-degree camera makers to discuss possible partnerships and integrations. Previously, YouTube has worked with GoPro to create The GoPro Odyssey, a 16-camera rig developed by Google’s JUMP program, which allows for real-time stitching of 360-degree videos while shooting.

What Brands Need To Do
Both virtual reality and live streaming provide new platforms for brands to connect with their audiences in innovative, exciting ways. By combining the two, YouTube may provide brands with a killer tool to amplify the reach of their sponsored events and engage with online consumers in real time, and that is something all brands with branded events planned should pay heed to.


Source: Buzzfeed