The Rise of Immersive Content in the Digital Marketing Age


Featured on Adweek, Shorthand gives readers a 5 Step process to creating affective storytelling content.

Our world today has become all things digital. From social media to electronic billboards, marketers may find digital platforms for branding and advertising nearly unavoidable if not entirely necessary for a successful campaign. However, a new expectation among consumers acts as a game changer for advertising; as digital marketing finds a very comfortable place in multiple functioning facets of the global economy, consumers want something visually spectacular that not only surpasses the “wow” factor but tells a story.

But how does one begin? Shorthand, an online storytelling application for professionals presented a solid set of guidelines in their article The Five Foundations of Immersive Content to keep in mind when creating immersive digital content: Planning, strong visuals, value-added video, “motion” graphics, and text that matters. Ask yourself questions when planning. Who is my audience and what do I want to tell them? What are my main goals? Once you’ve answered these questions, how are you going to visually portray it? Upon choosing images, make sure they are impactful, but more importantly reinforce your message. Consider video; it is a useful tool that brings life to any project. Motion graphics also are an effective tool. For example, charts have always been efficient at portraying data, but add a little motion to highlight certain aspect of the image and the effect of your message has intensified. Lastly if not most importantly, choose your words wisely. Words are important but too many words can dilute the meaning of your content. Words speak for what images can’t, and images fill the empty gaps words can leave behind. There is a balance. “Immersive content has the power to captivate your audience—to inspire, inform and even persuade people with rich, vivid narratives,” as described by Shorthand, whether it be for an advertisement, a website, a blog post, or even a weekly report.

Shorthand offers professionals a variety of tools online to create seamless and effective content, immersing viewers into an interactive story.

Shorthand, however, is no pioneer. The idea of crafting immersive content has begun to transpire across many online platforms, both marketing related and non-related. Shorthand mentions in its article the recent partnership of Refinery29 and Macy’s to create an interactive shopping experience. As viewers scroll, the platform takes you frame by frame through a series of looks that reference experiences, whether a night out, a prestigious cocktail party, or an important business opportunity. The viewer is then transported to a virtual “room” where they can purchase the shoes or jacket associated with the previous look.

Refinery 29 and Macy’s fun and playful online shopping experience guides shoppers through not only a series of looks, but through possibilities and ideas left to the shoppers’ imagination.

Following this, Shorthand references Business Insider and their use of immersive content in an article about the renovation of a 99 year-old mansion. With the power of image and text combined, much like a digital comic, Business Insider launches the viewer into an interactive space; transforming and morphing images couple brief texts, leading the viewer through the story of a mansion’s transformation from a rusty historical shell to a vibrant modern piece of art.

Everyone loves to be entertained. Going beyond this, people love it even more when they feel like they are a part of the process. That’s where immersive content comes to play. Not only are you offering a story to your viewers and consumers, you are allowing them to take part, to engage, to learn, and to be inspired by the experience. Today’s consumers want to be a part of the process; They want to feel like their voice is heard and understood. From a marketing perspective, immersive content seems like a pretty good place to start. It acts not only as a stunning piece within a campaign but an experience consumers are more likely to remember.

From a marketing management perspective, here are some questions to think about:

  • What other companies come to mind that have not only used the idea of immersive content and experience online, but also through their overall marketing strategy?
  • How can companies who use this strategy measure its effectiveness with their consumers, as well as their consumer’s satisfaction with the experience?
  • Looking ahead, how might immersive marketing content continue to evolve both online and in the real world for companies and consumers?