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Julia Hamilton Trost - Interviewed at Sundance Film Festival 2017

Julia Trost and Google VR partnered with the Nestlé brand to produce The Extraordinary Honeybee, a VR film experienced through the eyes of a bee and produced in an effort to bring awareness to Colony Collapse Disorder.

What does someone like you, pioneering the mobile VR platform Daydream, have to say to brands about implementing VR when they’re still wondering where they’ll see their ROI?

Brands need to be willing to experiment a little bit to see what works. I think, as a VR Platform, we will get more data over time that will hopefully help brands feel a little bit more comfortable with experimentation. So, things like heat maps - if a brand creates a VR video and they want to understand how users are engaging with that video, being able to use something like a heat map to see where a user’s gaze is going and what pieces of the video they’re really focused on helps brands see what resonates.

Brands need to be comfortable with being able to take a brand out of the story [and ask] how can brands use VR to connect in an authentic way? Brands can also find ways to do it on a small scale… they can find potential creative agencies they can partner with on a two minute piece and experiment to see what kind of authentic stories they can tell with the medium.

What rewards to brands reap by being first in on VR culture?

I think that a brand that’s first in has the power to make that connection as a “first-mover” [VR] blows minds… it has an impact in a way that a 2D piece can’t. How can a brand think about this using VR, not just for VR’s sake, but to tell a story that can’t be done in 2D, and then get users to understand through that immersion the story that that brand is trying to tell? Use VR for that purpose. Come up with a creative idea, go to the experts, and figure out the authentic story you can tell through VR and experiment with it. That’s what VR should be about for brands at this point. Don’t be afraid to play.

Is this truly “the year of VR”, or will it take more time to happen?

More great content will come – I think that’s coming. I do think that there could be a little bit of overexposure where people are expecting a lot from VR when it’s still going to take time. It’s going to take time to figure out monetization. It’s going to take time to figure out how brands are going to get an ROI; that’s not necessarily going to be in 2017. In 2017, we’ll see more social and a lot more live [content]. Has it been done perfectly yet? No – I think there’s a lot of things like that in VR. Productivity and Business to Business applications will come more and more in 2017, and there will be more use cases outside of gaming and entertainment.

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