At Bank of America Merrill Lynch, we view disruption as an opportunity, not a problem. Therefore, at a time when continual change is the norm, we strive to deliver insights that help our clients make sense of it all and propel their businesses forward. In this case, our goal was to use virtual reality itself to explain the effect of the technology on all forms of business. We thought, why would we produce just a PDF explaining the role of VR in business? If we are a modern company, let's deliver a modern solution. We built a virtual one-on-one meeting with Sarbjit Nahal, our lead thematic research analyst, to explain the landscape, impact and potential opportunities of VR for businesses, investors and the public. We saw there was a need for this because there was very little educational content on VR and particularly its potential in the b2b space. Before our piece, there was only gaming, travel and leisure, and we wanted to be the first to produce a VR about VR as an industry. Through strong data visualization, animated statistics and compelling real life examples such as selecting a car in a virtual show room, driving through the Alps and using VR in a critical medical situation over the Grand Canyon, the piece educates the viewer on how VR will shape and change industries and daily life in the future.
The strategy was to create a VR piece that educated all our constituents: institutional investors, corporate management and the general public. If we were the first to create content like this, we had to make it applicable to all our clients and prospects. We saw a need for this because there was very little educational content about VR and particularly its potential as an industry. Before our piece, there was only gaming, travel and leisure, and we wanted to be the first to produce a VR about VR as an industry.
When designing this, we had to make it visually compelling; content a client would watch. As we know our clients are time-strapped, we took advantage of the medium and thought strategically about which scenes and concepts would interest them most. For example we put Sarj in space vs a conference room. While the VR was the centerpiece of our VR educational program, it was one of many components. In fact, the VR piece originated as a PDF report, and then flourished into an all-encompassing campaign that includes the VR film, web, advertising, SEO, influencers, social, PR, 1x1 meetings and events. Specifically, we promoted and placed the film across all channels from Youtube to Twitter, from Samsung to Linkedin. We were the #3 most viewed VR on Samsung, which is impressive for a non-gaming film. We enhanced our website to incorporate the 360 version of the piece in-unit. We created the first ever in-unit 360 ad, where viewers saw the 360 video in the ad unit vs clicking out.We hosted educational events teaching an inquisitive audience the effect of this technology on their lives and businesses. We engaged with the online public through 54 social posts, including an unlock card, with record breaking interactions, and we validated both the content and the production quality with a robust influencer/PR campaign, including VR notary Amber Roy. We created a "poster" announcing the piece which was fresh and inspiring and that felt more like a movie poster more than an ad unit, lending to the energy around the campaign. We felt strongly that our employees benefit from experiencing the technology and the content. We launched an internal VR campaign, spanning employees globally and utilizing our internal emails, website and intern program, and to ensure our employees could experience the content, we hosted global fairs where employees watched our VR piece. The whole project from initial concept to final presentation to channel selection was completely innovative and unique. We were the first to take a research report and turn it into a VR piece. We were the first to make a VR piece on VR as a technology and industry (first not just in finance, but in the industry).We were the first to show this technology at our conferences and have it download from Samsung and our website. We were the first to feature the technology directly in an ad unit.
This VR film was an incredible effort, and the results to add to the story.We broke almost every record set by BofAML from page views on our website to social shares. Some of the highlights were becoming the #3 most viewed VR on Samsung, impressive for a B2B financial firm in a consumer space. Our new tactics such as the Twitter un-lock card and the 360 ad-unit proved successful as their data results surpassed even our benchmarks. Adding to this, our standard practices of polling, carousels, moments and both GIF and JPEG infographics amassed further impressive results, making this social program, the best in BofAML history. One of our many influencers, Amber Roy, engineer @Oculus, commented, "Did not expect this: 360 video by BofAML. Cool to see finance industry giants embracing #VR". The importance of these statistics is that the VR film achieved its goals. People wanted to see it and watched it to completion in record numbers. We had several requests for the VR at events, sponsorships, 1x1 meetings and client presentations. There was a buzz about the piece amongst our audience and a desire to learn more about the technology. Our employees remarked how they would have never expected this from BofAML, and how we felt like a modern company, changing the perception of our firm and aligning with our future goals. We are honored that this reached and resonated with our audience, proving the value and creativity in the content and creation of the work.
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