Discovery Channel is dipping its toes into the uncharted water of virtual reality and 360-degree spherical video as it announced the launch of its virtual-reality platform, Discovery VR on Friday. The cable channel will kick things off with a series of short-form VR videos that invite viewers to swim with sharks as part of its hit show Mythbusters. Other nature-focused VR shorts are also reportedly in development.
What Brands Should Do
Virtual reality holds great potential as an immersive media platform for brands to fully engage their audience with innovative, branded experiences. The lack of quality content has been hindering VR from mainstream consumer adoption. In recent months, however, a slew of media owners and brands have started creating original VR content, including Facebook, BBC, Birchbox, and major Hollywood studios.Therefore, it is important for brands seeking to immersively engage with its audience to create branded VR content sooner than later.
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Earlier last week, Meerkat launched an embeddable player to allow live streams to be embedded into and viewed on other digital services. The live-streaming app is now making the push with a new partnership with the Discovery Channel, which will be the first content brand to use the player for its annual viral event Shark Week.
As part of the deal, Meerkat will help push out the Shark Week content provided by the Discovery Channel to the users,via a @SharkWeek account, and the embedded player will be used to add behind-the-scenes content on the channel’s DLive web portal.
This is not the first time Meerkat has worked with media owners to provide mobile streaming platform in exchange to exclusive live content—it teamed up with CMT Music Award to broadcast part of the show just two weeks ago. As an alternative digital outlet, Meerkat promises a new second screen experience to engage with today’s mobile-first consumers, and we expect to see more media owners to collaborate with it.
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Continuing its transformation into a content platform, popular messaging app Snapchat has rolled out an update that brings a few significant new features to its branded content channel Discover. Snapchat users can now share content clips with friends, which will include a clickable banner that would direct recipients into Discover. Online publishing thrives on virality, so it makes perfect sense for Snapchat to make Discover content easily shareable.
Moreover, users can also embellish on the content clip with their own drawing and captions before sending. Undoubtedly a good way to encourage reader engagement, brands should be mindful of the content they put out, as this feature opens content up to parody and co-option, potentially resulting in “next-level awkwardness” for brands and media owners.
Google Play is now letting developers appropriately index the content within apps so they can be integrated into Google Search. Google can now search within apps, including deep links to the content within the application. For instance, a search for a recipe might yield results to a cooking site as well as a deep link to a recipe within the Epicurious app. Expect this to increase discoverability and have search lead to deeper app engagement.
According to Google: “App Indexing helps you drive usage of your app through Google. Deep links to your app appear in Google Search results on Android so users can get to your native mobile experience quickly and easily.”
All new features require an adoption period where users familiarize themselves with the tech. Graph Search is one of Facebook’s most ambitious initiatives that places Facebook at the center of online discovery, but also brings with it some serious user challenges. This article from Gigaom shows both the machine learning and human intervention required to streamline the product to gain mass adoption.
Google has overhauled search over the past year, building out new features to improve the user experience. Today, Search can incorporate formulas, gmail text, and even “knowledge graph” results that pull photos and descriptions in a wiki-like box. Additionally, they’ve focused on optimizing for mobile which includes a new ux and algorithms that take into account the different engagement on the devices. Check out the full article to learn how the Google’s flagship product has moved from a list of links to more of a software application.
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