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January 31, 2017 | Lucy Penn

Spotlight on New Technologies: Virtual Reality

Publishers are currently experimenting with the exciting new challenge of integrating virtual reality platforms into their business models. Although still in an experimental phase, publishers are attempting to understand what VR can do for them. Publishers know that virtual reality can immerse the audience in a way that no other medium can, so are obviously keen to take advantage. Tech forecasters expect Virtual Reality to significantly change the industry, however, they are uncertain in what way and how soon. Publishers see the potential and know this technology could not only be used for long-form storytelling but to boost consumer engagement and increase brand loyalty across all content.

Pioneering companies such as The Guardian have already created new teams solely dedicated to working on virtual reality as “an ongoing commitment to digital innovation in journalism and working with emerging technologies to create immersive and impactful storytelling”. Source 1 The Guardian perceive the technology to be revolutionary for journalism, completely changing the way long-form storytelling is consumed. VR can uniquely immerse the reader into a story allowing them to see and experience it like reporters do, taking them to the event.

Many of the large publishers such as the New York Times, Economist, USA today, the Wall Street Journal and the Washington Post are among those that have already put substantial resource into this area. To launch their new VR venture, the New York Times created an app and teamed up with Google, mailing out over one million cardboard headsets to Sunday paper subscribers. This resulted in over 600,000 downloads. According to editor-in-chief Jake Silverstein, it was their most successful app launch in the history of The New York Times. This reinforces the idea that there is a huge appetite from readers to consume content in this new format. Source 2

To cover the inauguration of Donald Trump becoming the 45th president, publishers are taking the opportunity to show off their virtual reality capabilities. USA Today will air a four-hour HD live stream in VR and 360-video, covering the Capitol building, parade route and the National Mall. USA Today’s VR team consists of 16 people overseeing the production and a separate 6 team “VRtually There” news show. USA Today said, “We tested it and we think there’s an opportunity to serve people who want to get up close while still feeling like they’re virtually there.” This is a unique offering that the publisher is providing and is sure to bring those who have the required VR equipment get close to the action.

It is clear that this three-dimensional computer generated experience will be widely used by publishers in the future. However, for now, the technology is still in its infancy and publishers are unsure how best to utilise it. Large tech companies continue to invest money, experimenting and researching how best to make it accessible to the masses while also trying to monetise the platform. This is a major issue as virtual reality isn’t yet a reliable source for revenue but is presenting new opportunities to create content and connect with consumers, which cannot be ignored.

Here at PageSuite we are constantly innovating and exploring new technologies, we are already testing how publishers could potentially use VR. We currently have members of staff working with our existing publishers to develop a solution that best suits them. PageSuite strives to continuously enhance the reader’s experience, while at the same time looking at avenues for publishers to help monetise these platforms. If you would like to find out more, please click here…

Also, keep an eye out for an upcoming interview for a behind-the-scenes look at what PageSuite is doing with VR and Alexa.

Source 1: https://www.theguardian.com/gnm-press-office/2016/oct/04/the-guardian-announces-virtual-reality-project-team

Source 2: http://digiday.com/publishers/inside-5-publishers-efforts-monetize-virtual-reality/

Source 3: https://www.nytimes.com/2015/12/13/magazine/editors-letter-take-flight-with-virtual-reality.html?_r=2