3D Videos: How Much Should You Be Thinking About 3D Content?

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Back in 2009, the CEO of Sony gave a keynote address in which he said that Sony's future would be online and 3D. In the four years since, even though 3D movies on the big screen have become a relatively common occurrence in this post-Avatar world, 3D adoption in other arenas, such as television, video games and the Internet, has been somewhat slower. In June 2013, for example, ESPN announced that it would be shutting down its 24/7 3D channel.

No one was very surprised to hear the news about the closure of ESPN's 3D channel. Watching 3D on television sets just hasn't caught on yet. Furthermore, 3D is still the medium of action movies, fantasy and science-fiction. From the point of view of a television viewer, what's the big benefit of watching a baseball game in 3D?

3D Online

The same industry experts who shrugged without surprise when ESPN's 3D channel shut down nevertheless wholeheartedly believe that 3D is the future of television, movies and online videos. The question is less about if 3D will take off than when it will.

Knowing this, what should Internet marketers and web developers do regarding 3D videos? Should marketers go to the effort of having them or not? Perhaps a different question should be asked. The question could be reframed as, "If people aren't yet totally convinced they want to watch sports in 3D or convinced about 3D television, are they going to be convinced that they should watch 3D web videos?"

The most likely answer is that most people, most of the time are not interested in watching 3D videos on YouTube. They might be convinced to do it if they have a really good reason, such as very compelling content, but otherwise, at least for the next few years, they aren't going to be expecting to find 3D videos on your website.

YouTube Does It For You Anyway

More importantly, if you do want viewers to see your video content in 3D, all you need to do is to upload a video shot in HD to YouTube. YouTube can automatically convert a version of your video to make it available to people who want to watch it in 3D. The company added this feature in 2012. Here's how you do it: First, go to your Video Manager for the video you want to make available in 3D. Under the first tab, Info & Settings, click on Advanced Settings underneath the video. On the right-hand side of the page, under Recording Date, you will see the 3D Video header. Use the drop-down menu to select the option "Please make this video 3D."

That's it. YouTube saves your changes automatically as you go along, so there's a very good chance you won't even need to click the Save bottom at the bottom of the screen when you're done.

Two More Reasons Why You Won't Be Promoting 3D Video Content Anytime Soon

Even though you can make your YouTube videos viewable in 3D, however, doesn't mean you'll want to promote them as 3D content. Why is that?

The first reason, the most important reason, is mobile. According to YouTube's own statistics, a quarter of all its videos are watched on mobile devices. Over one billion views per day happen on smartphones and tablets. Marketers should expect that number to rise. Facebook's latest statistics about mobile, for example, show that more people connect to Facebook through their mobile devices than through their computers. That change started in January 2013; as of July 2013, 70 percent of Facebook users were using mobile devices to access the site.

Similarly, people access websites, including the videos on those sites, through mobile devices more and more often. If it's a stretch to expect people to want to watch 3D content on their computer screens, then it's even more of a stretch to expect them to seek out 3D videos while browsing with a smartphone.

The second reason you won't be promoting much 3D video content anytime soon, at least if you're relying upon YouTube to help you make 3D content, is that viewers will have to leave your site and go to YouTube in order to watch the video in 3D. If you're using a 3D video the other way around, that is, if you're using it on your YouTube channel to draw viewers to your site, then this isn't too bad. Otherwise, you'll have to send your website visitors away from your site in order to enjoy the content. Sending visitors away from a website is counter-intuitive for most marketers.

The Bottom Line

The bottom line for web developers and Internet marketers when it comes to 3D is this: Don't make it an integral part of your marketing strategy at the present moment. It might be that in the future 3D content will be a natural part of every website; for the time being, you would be wiser to spend your time and money investing in technologies like responsive design.

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