New digital storytelling: video, VR and AR

This article about new digital storytelling with video, VR and AR is in a series exploring key themes in technology from the Web Summit in Lisbon and how they may impact on media brands. Read about the other themes here.

Video already drives engagement on mobile and social.  So media brands need to adapt to this form of story telling and engaging audiences. But the gaming and entertainment industry, in search of more immersive experiences, are already developing augmented reality (AR), volumetric video and virtual reality (VR). As mobile devices evolve to be capable of handling these forms of content, consumers will become used to these new visual experiences, and media owners will need to develop new ways to present content.

Video drives traffic on mobile and social

60% of time spent online by US consumers is watching video, and mobile makes up 23% of total online video viewing, growing at an annual rate of 30%. Currently video only accounts for 5% adspend, but this is growing at 58% pa. Social platforms dominate video viewing – 47% of referrals traffic to video content come from social, overwhelmingly from Facebook.

Volumetric video is the most realistic portrayal of people

Cartoon avatars can’t express genuine emotions, and CGI is prohibitively expensive, so there’s growing interest in volumetric video.  This is filmed using an array of cameras, creating a file small enough to be shared to a phone, and an image that can be viewed from all sides. Applications could include museum hosts, virtual retail assistants or personal trainers.

Next generation of phones will be VR enabled

Google Daydream is a VR platform that can be viewed on a phone, with up to 100m high end android phones already possessing this capability. Users can record their personal path through a game and share with friends.

Interactivity provides different paths through a story

Games creator Wevr has developed an interactive VR game, Gnomes and Goblins, with characters who are aware of where the user is and can respond and maintain eye contact. Created by the director of the Jungle Book, there is a whole AI world for the user to explore via their individual path.

AR adds digital objects in view of physical world

More phones are AR ready – over 100m by end of 2017 – and the first few applications are appearing. An AR app knows not only where you are, but what your phone is “seeing” through its camera.

MoleQL is an educational tool for demonstrating chemical reactions.

AR City is a navigational app that adds captions and directions to the view of a city through your phone’s camera (see image above).


Whilst consumer and business media may not immediately be about to experiment with volumetric video, VR or AR, it’s worth watching the early applications. The New York Times has already built a strong VR strand, largely funded by sponsored VR content. And AR might well be a way for travel or retail media to add value to a real world experience, or for a history publisher to tell the story behind a location. Technology will start to shape the new digital storytelling experience.


If you’d like to discuss how these trends might affect your media business, you are welcome to get in touch for a chat over the phone or over a coffee.

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About the author:

Carolyn Morgan has over twenty years experience launching, growing, buying and selling specialist media businesses across print, digital and live events. Carolyn now advises publishers large and small on their digital strategy and writes and speaks on digital publishing strategy.

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