Facebook Widens 360-Degree Video Partners, Tests Ads

Facebook, keeping its foot on the video gas pedal, announced several updates to the 360-degree immersive video features.

The company, which debuted the format in September, said the feature is now available via the Facebook iOS app, in addition to Android devices and the web. The social giant has added new partners that are publishing 360-degree videos, including ABC News, Nickelodeon and Fox’s “Scream Queens” — which posted a virtual set tour — and is testing video ads that employ the technology.

Advertisers currently running 360-degree videos — which are a step toward full virtual reality — include AT&T, AB InBev’s Corona, Nestle’s Nescafe, Mondelez’s Ritz, Samsung and Walt Disney World.

Initial content partners for the Facebook feature included Disney, which posted an exclusive clip from “Star Wars: The Force Awakens,” Discovery Communications, GoPro, LeBron James’ Uninterrupted, NBC’s “Saturday Night Live” and Vice Media. Additional publishers sharing 360 videos on Facebook include BuzzFeed, PBS’s “Frontline” and the NFL’s New Orleans Saints.

In addition to iOS support, Facebook has integrated 360-degree videos with Samsung Gear VR and supported Samsung smartphones.

With the 360-video feature, Facebook users choose the angle to watch it from. On a PC, that’s controlled by dragging the video around with the mouse cursor; on mobile devices, users drag a finger across the screen or rotate the device. YouTube also features 360-degree videos.

The overall aim: to drive up time spent viewing Facebook video (and, of course, ads on the free service). The company earlier this month said it now serves an average of 8 billion video views per day.

Facebook also said it’s working with several camera makers, including Theta, Giroptic and IC Real Tech, to provide in-app “publish to Facebook” options for 360 videos to make it easier for users to share those videos.

In addition, Facebook is launching a 360-video microsite to provide resources and information, including upload guidelines and a set of best practices from Chris Milk and Aaron Koplin of virtual-reality studio Vrse. The site also features examples of unique 360 experiences.

Finally, Facebook will give Page owners the ability to edit initial camera position and vertical field of view before uploading 360 videos.

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