- Cathay Pacific, the Hong Kong-based airline that flies to 42 countries, launched a marketing campaign that features an 360-degree mobile video ad, according to documents made available to Mobile Marketer. By tapping on the mobile ad, viewers can look around one of the airline's first class cabins and interact with the setting.
- OmniVirt, a 360-degree video and virtual reality (VR) startup, developed the technology. The campaign will run over the next few months on various websites, but not yet on YouTube or Facebook, as those platforms don't yet support native 360-degree video, though marketers are able to boost posts that include those videos.
- A YouTube demonstration of the ad shows how a viewer can move a smartphone to view the virtual setting for travelers on Cathay Pacific. Viewers can tap hot spots in the video to learn more about features of the cabin. The ad includes a "book now" button to encourage viewers to make flight reservations.
Engaging viewers with ads remains a key issue for mobile marketers as they contend with ad blockers, short attention spans and hurdles with technical platforms. Cathay Pacific and OmniVirt are trying to make the airline's latest campaign more immersive for mobile users who want to explore the interior of an airplane by moving their smartphones around or dragging their finger across the screen to rotate the view.
"The biggest challenge for these marketers remains distribution and viewers, but with VR campaigns having shown a tenfold increase in interaction and engagement compared to flat 2D advertisements, we expect their use to increase exponentially," Brad Phaisan, founder and CEO of OmniVirt, told VR Focus. OmniVirt has delivered more than 100 million VR ad impressions on 360-degree videos for brands such as Universal Pictures, Land Rover, Samsung and National Geographic.
OmniVirt claims the ad is more interactive than other videos of its kind. However, Cathay isn't the first airline to try out the VR format. Last year, Hong Kong Airlines featured a 360-degree video view of its business class cabin with help from Finnish ad tech company Kiosked. Programmatic ad buys conducted by MEC led to more than 500,000 views during a two-week period for Hong Kong Airlines, according to AdWeek. The campaign yielded 35x better results and viewing lengths 9x greater than traditional display ads.
Ads using 360-degree video allow users more control of what they experience and look at, as the tool is somewhat of a "choose-your-own-adventure" format that's customizable based on what the user wants to learn about the brand.