Reality Check: Why Live Video, VR and AR Have a Bright Future

April 3, 2017


By Cathy Hackl, APR, and Nicole Henderson

Live video, virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) are on every content creator’s radar. These new tech tools are reaching end users at a greater pace than any other medium has in a while.

The beauty of these platforms is that stories can unfold organically and viewers have an opportunity to be a part of the story and decide what they want to consume. Anyone working in any communication-related field should view live video and VR/AR as useful tools for telling their brand’s story.

Live video will grow your brand

According to Cisco, traffic from online videos will constitute over 80 percent of all consumer internet traffic by 2020. As communicators, we must take that into account as we plan our communication strategy for not only this year, but the following years. We have to fully understand where the attention of our audience is moving. We also need to take into account that our competitors may be taking advantage of these platforms, too.

Live video content must be engaging with or without sound. According to Digiday, 85 percent of Facebook videos are viewed without sound. To date, Facebook states that by simply adding captions, you will increase the watch time of your video by 12 percent. Live video is gaining so much traction now that it is causing a bump in influencer marketing. All ages are starting to adopt the format and it is forcing those of us in the communication field to take notice.

Live video in 2017 and beyond will continue growing exponentially. Brands that get ahead of the curve with adoption of live video will see the benefit of being first movers on this medium.

Live video has a strong hold on our lives now and here are a few facts we need to consider from Insivia:

1. YouTube no longer holds the monopoly on live video. Influencers can be found on several platforms, from Periscope to Instagram Live. Fifty-five percent of people watch videos online every day.

2. Live video is still in its infancy. Brands are learning how to best use the tool. In a live format, your audience does not expect perfection.

3. Fifty-one percent of marketing professionals worldwide name video as the type of content with the best ROI.

4. People spend, on average, 2.6 times longer on pages with video than without.

5. Marketers who use video grow revenue 49 percent faster than non-video users.

Live video is everywhere! Brands can do mobile live video on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Periscope and YouTube. The opportunities for reaching your audience in the ecosystem they spend time in is now immediate and easy.

AR and VR are the present

VR and AR are no longer obscure terms; they are taking over the headlines. Nowhere was this clearer than at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas and at the Sundance Film Festival. VR and AR ruled the floor and immersive content was the talk of the town. This new way of telling stories is fully immersive and is creating an amazing opportunity for brands to innovate and bring to life truly awe-inspiring branded VR experiences.

The simplest distinction between VR and AR is: VR blocks out the world around you and is fully immersive once the user puts on a head-mounted display (HMD). The 3-D/360-degree experience they view creates a sense of “presence” or “virtually” being there. AR can do similar things, but it does not block out the world around you. Rather, it superimposes content on top and/or within your current physical environment.

Facebook is already heavily invested in VR as the “computing platform of the future,” with its purchase of Oculus several years ago and its current projects to bring VR to the forefront and catapult AR.

While mostly limited to games on high-end platforms using hardware, the technology will eventually become less expensive and filter to wearable mobile devices. Imagine being able to livestream in VR on Facebook. You can, right now. Imagine entering synthetic spaces and even entire worlds, where one can spend time with friends and family on opposite sides of the world, watch a movie together, or even visit places one may have neither the means nor capability to visit.

You can do all of that right now, yet most brands don’t have any idea how to capitalize on this.

From a PR perspective, VR and AR will give our profession a chance to use immersive and augmented content to help capitalize on branding and publicity opportunities for the brands we represent. PR pros must pay attention to the monumental shift away from 2-D content to 3-D, 360-degree and holographic content. This will have an impact on the way we go about our work as communications professionals and expert storytellers.

While VR may be viewed by many as a niche market that will be worth $30 billion by 2020, the biggest opportunity for brands is in augmented reality and mixed reality, which is estimated to be worth $120 billion by 2020, according to Digi Capital.

If you think the future is too far off and that you don’t need to understand these new tech tools right now, then you’re mistaken. The future is already here and the shift in content is already happening with the increase in live video, and more 360 photos and videos being shared on social networks.
This shift is occurring rapidly and brands that aren’t prepared will face a new reality where their competitors are already a part of the video and immersive economy. 

Cathy Hackl, APR, is an Emmy-nominated communicator turned virtual reality and augmented reality speaker and futuristic content creator. She’s the chief communications and content officer for Future Lighthouse, one of the world’s top VR studios focused on branded VR narrative.

Nicole Henderson, owner of Selsi Enterprises, is passionate about the power of integrated communication. Her company specializes in corporate and small-business communication strategy development. 


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