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Target unwraps shoppable 360 videos, crowdsourced maps for Halloween

Target has several mobile-first treats planned for customers this Halloween, including shoppable 360-degree virtual reality videos on YouTube and a crowdsourced social network to help parents find the best houses for experiencing the holiday.

This is the second year that Target is taking to social media to celebrate Halloween, with the success of last year’s effort prompting the retailer to go bigger in 2015. Both the choose-your-own-adventure video series and the crowdsourced site are unique approaches to these marketing tactics, underscoring the importance Target places on leading the way in mobile.

“We know that Halloween is an important time for our guests,” said Angela Thompson, social media PR manager at Target. “They are looking for inspiration, planning a Halloween party, decorating the house and figuring out the best costume for the kids.

“We also know they are social and going online looking for inspiration,” she said. “Because of that, last year we introduced a first-of-its-kind campaign on Instagram and were really pleased with the response and wanted to do something again.”

Interactive video
In 2014, Target enabled Instagram followers to access do-it-yourself Halloween content including recipes, decorations and craft projects (see story).

This year, Target wanted to do something unique on YouTube to engage with customers who are already watching how-to videos as part of the inspiration process for Halloween.

The interactive virtual reality video series, titled The House on Hallow Hill, was published on YouTube earlier this week. It was shot using 360-degree technology, enabling viewers to pan around and explore the inside of a haunted house by tilting and angling a phone’s screen like a lens.

The videos are best experienced from the YouTube app on an iPhone or Android device or from Safari or Chrome on desktop.

The experience starts from the perspective of a trick-or-treater walking around on Halloween who stops in front of a spooky-looking house and stops to snap a photo with a smartphone. A raven flies up and takes the phone, with copy encouraging the viewer to go inside to get it back.

Inside the house, viewers can tap to explore one of several different rooms, such as a zombie dinner party or a frightful carnival.

Shoppable content
Target claims the video series, which was shot at a mansion in St. Paul, MN, is the first-ever choose-your-own-adventure 360-degree experience on YouTube.

All of the items in the different rooms are shoppable – such as decorative pumpkins, costumes and skull buckets – with viewers able to tap on the links featured in the YouTube cards on the video to go to a curated landing page for the room on the Target Web site.

At the end of the video, viewers get a 10-percent-off one-time coupon for a Target purchase.

The video effort reflects both the growing consumption of video on mobile and as well as the convergence of content and commerce on mobile.

Finding the best treats
The Treatster social network, which debuts on Oct. 26, leverages the Google Maps API maps out the best house on each block, relying on crowdsourced input from users who vote on houses based on décor, candy offering and more.

To participate, parents can tag a location as a “Treat” on their map. The more Treats a location has, the larger its pumpkin will appear.

Treatster was developed exclusively for trick-or-treaters by Target and digital agency 360i.

Target expects Treatster to be an on-going program that will get better as more data is input into it.

Target is leveraging a number of social media influences to promote Treatster, who will be able to use a 3D printed pumpkin embedded with technology so that users can press it and it will sync up with a smartphone to vote for that house on the site.

Both programs are being promoted via Target’s social channels.

“We were really pleased with how our guests responded last year and that inspired us to do something that is unique, taking a platform that they are familiar with and doing something innovative that they haven’t seen before,” Ms. Thompson said.

Final Take
Chantal Tode is senior editor on Mobile Commerce Daily, New York