In the next five to 10 years, virtual reality (VR), augmented reality (AR) and 360-degree video will become a trillion-dollar industry. It’s one thing to create content using these technologies but another to monetize it. Before discussing how to do that, let’s look at differences among them.

360 content: This is created using a two-step process in which multiple cameras or lenses capture an image from different angles. 360 content is then “stitched” together and projected into an environment that supports the technology. Technically, it’s not virtual reality. The major difference is in the way the user moves through the content. You can view 360 videos using VR headsets or on YouTube, Facebook and 360-enabled web and mobile sites.

VR: Virtual reality envelops users and places them in a different world. Created through computer-generated imagery, the technology is viewed using VR headsets, such as the Oculus Rift, Gear VR and the popular (and affordable) Google Cardboard.

AR: Augmented reality adds content to your current reality. Unlike VR, this technology doesn’t replace reality but complements the real world with computer-generated imagery. You’ve probably seen this demonstrated in applications such as the popular Pokemon Go or Ikea’s digital furniture showroom. The latter lets you view Ikea products in your home before purchasing them. AR is poised to become an industry standard in the near future.

Show me the money

Now that you understand the differences between VR, AR and 360 video, let’s discuss the best ways to monetize content you create.


AR is not new technology but renewed technology. Digital reality products are projected to generate almost $500 billion in sales by 2025.

Apple recently released ARKit, an augmented reality kit. This platform helps app developers create AR experiences for iOS devices. This type of accessibility will allow this technology to blossom in many industries. Layar is another platform that lets you create an augmented reality experience. You can upload your current JPG, PNG, PDF and zip files to create your own AR experience.

Practical uses for augmented reality include:

  • Retail — in-home product previews and showcases
  • Corporate training — on-screen instructions, prompts and step-by-step demonstrations of complex processes
  • Remote Collaboration — working together on projects no matter where your employees are.


VR has been around for almost 60 years but has gained popularity among consumers only recently. It still hasn’t gotten its moment in the spotlight. While we wait to see if VR technology will become a mainstay, three main models for monetization have arrived:

  • Premium — People pay up front for content.
  • Ad-based/ad-driven content — It’s seamlessly integrated into the experience.
  • Downloadable content — Additional content is available for purchase.

Several industries have already used VR creatively. Imagine walking through a news story or interacting with your favorite TV show. Brands that continue to invest in creating immersive experiences will reach more consumers who are spending more time consuming media.

360 video

360 video is actually most companies’ comfortable starting point before venturing further into digital reality technology. User engagement for 360 ads is much higher than for traditional digital advertising. Unique ways to monetize and creatively use 360 in your business include:

  • Periscope — This lets you broadcast in 360, which can increase audience engagement. If your brand needs to reach Gen Z and millennials, this capture can be an indirect way to monetize the technology.
  • Real estate — Sales and hotel rentals rank in the top five largest markets for 360.
  • Retail — Like AR, 360 video has a place in retail marketing as a way to capture the interest of potential customers.
  • Shoppable video — 360-based shoppable content, which turns social video views into direct-response sales, dramatically increases conversion.

If your organization decides to purchase a 360, VR or AR system and incorporate it into the overall business plan, you must decide whether to create content or rely on third-party companies to provide it.

You may want to consider advertising in the 360/VR/AR space, too. Case studies of a 360 VR ad often show that view-through rates are well above 50 percent, if not exceedingly so.

But, keep in mind that VR companies also have the responsibility to create a frictionless ad experience when monetizing their product.

As Facebook and Google release stand-alone headsets, consumer adoption of the medium will encourage more brands to invest in creative for this space. This will encourage better content creation and effective monetization opportunities for many industries. The chart below shows 2020 market assumptions for VR/AR/360.

Not sure how to view 360 video on your desktop or phone? Follow these instructions: