It’s time for media companies to do more with immersive reality

By Jodie Hopperton


Los Angeles, California, United States


We’ve been hosting some sessions on immersive storytelling over the last six months, and the more I understand this area, the more I am concerned that we are not doing enough to become familiar with the technologies involved.

They are here now, and we need to start understanding how we can use them so we don’t get left behind. Budgets may not be there. There are a million other things to focus on and this is No. 238 on your to-do list. I get it.  But every CEO will ask “What is our strategy for the metaverse?” at some point in the next year, and product should lead that discussion. 

Now, if you want to be a smart ass, the first thing to do is correct your CEO and tell them that technically we should say metaverses, plural, as there will be more than one. Also terminology can vary so let’s stick with “immersive,” which includes AR (Augmented Reality), VR (Virtual Reality), MR (Mixed Reality), and the catch all  XR (Extended Reality).  

Much of that is here now and being used by our readers.

Have you made a photo “3D” on Facebook? Have you used a filter on Instagram? If so, then you’ve used immersive technology. These kinds of immersive “add ons” are commonplace.

If you've used a social media filter, you've dabbled in immersive reality.
If you've used a social media filter, you've dabbled in immersive reality.

The New York Times is distributing its AR experiences through a dedicated section on its Instagram account — an account which has 15.5 million followers.

The New York Times shares AR experiences on its Instagram account.
The New York Times shares AR experiences on its Instagram account.

Do you need to start producing expensive AR content? No, you don’t. But you do need to be aware of how consumers are using these technologies in their everyday lives and think about how that can be used in news.

For example, Owain Rich coded an app called FieldAR for NBC that allows journalists to record motion tracked graphics in the field (more here). It’s an incredible way to add additional context to a video story. It’s a feature that readers may even start expecting. These are the steps we can take now. 

And if you are producing video, consider experimenting with 360. It’s a natural progression from what you are doing now. Buy a camera for under US$500 (such as this or this, which come highly recommended by people I trust).

At the other end of the spectrum, and if you really want to geek out and blow your CEOs mind, check out Unreal Engine’s metahumans. These are computer generated humans that are insanely good, indistinguishable from the real thing. If you go down this route, this is where you also need to start thinking seriously about ethics and the use of CGI (computer generated images) for news.

So when you have the opportunity to input to the early stages of your metaverse strategy, here is my advice:

  • DO look at how consumers are using immersive technologies on other platforms because that’s how we’re really going to spot the right opportunities. 

  • DON’T do AR and VR projects now for the sake of it. The story needs to be right. If you are going to invest in this area, do less, but do it well. 

  • DO start paying attention. When Apple finally releases its much-discussed headset, that’s the time to start putting it in your mid-term strategic plans.

If you want to go deeper, download our report on the The Opportunities and Blueprint of XR for Media. Or watch our six-part series that we ran earlier this year. And if you want to talk about what a metaverse strategy should look like, get in touch:

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About Jodie Hopperton

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