Emotional engagement 27% higher in VR than in 2D

Emotional engagement 27% higher in VR than in 2D Rachael Power is an editor at TechForge Media, writing about marketing tech, connected cars and virtual reality. She has written for a number of online and print titles including the Irish Times, Irish Examiner, accountingWEB and BusinessZone. Rachael has a passion for digital marketing, journalism, gaming and fitness, and is on Twitter at: @rachpower10.


Virtual reality's many uses are becoming more and more apparent as sales of the tech continue to increase. 

One recent neuroscience-informed research study from YuMe and Nielson has found that marketers are certainly one group of professionals set to benefit from using VR within their industry. 

The strong emotional engagement clicited by virtual reality experiences (27% higher than in a 2D environment) is one big draw for marketers, as well as the increased length of this emotional engagement.

During the research, 150 participants were monitored while watching a scene from an entertainment advertiser, two short clips on mixology and an aerial helicopter tour of the Las Vegas strip.

Consumers viewed these clips in three different environments: an immersive VR experience on a headset, a 360-degree video on a tablet, and video on a conventional, flat screen TV.

Content on VR produced the highest emotional engagement, but also reinforced the challenges in connecting consumers with key branding moments in a platform that can encourage self-driven discovery.

A new kind of content director

Powered by the integration of Nielsen’s biometric, eye-tracking and behavioural coding technologies, the study shows that VR presented participants with the opportunity to play director, navigating through experiences in their own, unique ways.

This is something that marketers and brands must understand this journey in order to effectively divert attention to key branding moments, without interrupting the experience, the research said.

Storyline flow is critical to a virtual reality or 360 degree experience's success, as is guided exploration. In fact, VR requires a whole new breed of content directors, according to the report.

“Our research with Nielsen shows that VR and 360-degree video, done correctly, provides a very high level of viewer emotional engagement,” said Paul Neto, senior director, Research, YuMe.

“It also shows there are no shortcuts to the most effective video engagement – VR and 360 experiences are at their most effective in driving audience engagement when content is of very high quality and content developers leverage the specific strengths of each format. By putting the audience first, and focusing on creating an immersive and highly engaged experience, brands have the opportunity to realise higher levels of engagement and greater branding success.”

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