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Dropping the ball: Visa’s new NFL ads prove not every video needs 360 degrees

Everyone is talking about 360-degree videos. While still technically difficult to produce, they’ve found their way onto YouTube and Facebook, and it’s not hard to see why people enjoy them. They provide new angles, interactivity, and complete immersion. Well, at least sometimes they do.

In the case of Visa’s NFL ad campaign, it’s harder to see the appeal.

Each short, 360-degree video takes you through the training process for top prospects like Clemson’s Shaq Lawson or Ohio State’s Braxton Miller as they talk about what football means to them, spliced with clips of them catching long passes or running drills. Or, you can stare straight up at the ceiling the entire time.

Some of my favorite moments were shots of the players working out in a public gym. As the prospect in question lifts weights or works on machines, other gymgoers look on curiously at the camera, or just go about their business.

Related: YouTube rolls out 360 video live streaming, will showcase Coachella acts

Apart from those few moments of accidental background extras, 90 percent of each video clip is devoid of any activity. Thanks to 360-degree video, you can now look straight at the blank brick wall of Jaylon Smith’s gym while he talks about overcoming an injury, or listen to Paxton Lynch discuss growing up playing football while watching the clouds go by.

Look closely, and there are even places in some shots where a normal camera was used for the action, and the rest of the 360-degree view is just still images of bystanders or scenery.

All kidding aside, Visa is not the first company that has wanted to get involved with 360-degree video that has had to make some creative decisions. When Digital Trends sat down with porn company Naughty America at CES, a representative mentioned that 180-degree video made much more sense for that specific content. We’re not comparing Visa to a pornography site, but it could afford to take a page from Naughty America’s playbook.