It's Wednesday morning. I am sitting outside a coffee shop on the west-side of Los Angeles. Traffic buzzes on past me on Pacific Coast Highway. There is chatter all around me, as caffeinated patrons run into familiar faces. Even while sitting outside, I can still hear the scream of milk steaming inside. And yet, I am not here. I'm in Havana, Cuba, visiting with locals of the communist island. I'm in Amman, Jordan, hearing the heartfelt story of a Syrian man who is restarting his life. I'm staring up the face of a glacier that's trying to hold on as it melts away into the ocean. There is little end to what I can bear witness to, with the immersive power of RYOT News in 360.
We visited the home of RYOT earlier this summer and sat down with CEO, Bryn Mooser, to discuss how the media landscape is shifting in such a way, that people in developing countries are more connected now than ever. RYOT is moving the needle for new media by bringing a VR rig into these third-world countries, and highlighting the harsh realties people are living every day.
Bryn had this to say, in regards to the impression RYOT's content is meant to leave behind...
"We're especially aware here at least that behind those eyeballs there's a brain and a soul... and there's a responsibility, I think, within that content to make sure that it can improve that life or the community around it as well."
Along with us, we brought leading team members of LA-based Ad Agency, RPA, to sit-down with Bryn and his team, to discuss some of the ways advertisers are finding a seat at the table in VR and 360 filmmaking.
It became apparent, almost immediately, that RYOT is not in the business of creating commercials. Molly Swenson, RYOT's CMO, tells us about their background in non-profits, and how ad budgets are just too inflated to not be using that money for something that will last. Swenson went on to say this.. "What is the greatest earned impact we can have from this? Not can we spend our way to impact. Can we spend as little as it takes, to create a really authentically life-changing experience for someone."
The bottom-line is that content creation of this kind is not as expensive as it used to be. Production costs have slimmed down over the last decade, and you don't need a big ad buy on linear TV to get your message out. You just have to tell a story that matters, and deliver it to the eyes that want to see it.
More importantly, it's time to rethink what you're getting out of a piece of VR content. With such an immersive medium, the scales of engagement are tipped quite a bit. I get it; a view is a view is a view, and there is a lot of VR content out there thats easy to forget. But, when you step into a world previously unseen, to face realities beyond your own understanding, you can transcend what it means to watch a piece of content. You can transcend what it means to watch a piece of advertising. Because when that headset comes off, and the viewer is back at the coffee shop, that story stays with them. As if they lived it. As if they were really there. As if it really mattered.
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