You’ve produced and published your 360 video. Now let’s talk about video analytics and learn about who you viewers are, how they watch and interact with your video, and also “convert” if you have set some goals for your video and actions. User-testing your carefully crafted content is also the next logical step to sustaining a conversion-oriented content creation strategy.

360 video… is first and foremost video, so traditional video metrics still hold. Your video is hosted somewhere, be it on Youtube, Vimeo, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or on another video hosting provider – either directly on the platform or embedded on your website. Each platform provides its own set of analytics and metrics definitions. But by and large, all follow the same logic – here’s a refresher:

Video Metrics User testing

Infographics Courtesy of Buffer

A Quick Refresher on Video Metrics

Did they see it, and who are they?

First you’ll need tools that give you a generic overview of what’s happening to your video content: View counts determine how many people have seen your video, and audience demographics tell you who your average viewer is. Impressions tell you how many times your content was displayed, and Reach focuses on the number of single users that have seen your content. Your total watch-time indicate how long your video was watched, combined among all users.

But seeing is not watching…

The play rate let’s you know what percentage of people arriving on your page played the video, and the average watch time tells you how long the average user watched your video. The average retention rate shows you when and how many people quit, and the average completion rate indicates how many users watched your video all the way to the end.

…and watching is not engaging with content

The engagement rate tells you how many people liked, commented, or shared your content, i.e. was it relevant to your target audience? Or are you doing it all wrong? Your Engagement metrics give you valuable, qualitative information about your content’s success.

And what is engagement if there’s no real impact on your business objectives? The conversion rate, or action completion rate, tells you how many people took the desired action after watching the video (sign up ! buy a sample ! download the catalogue!).

Find out more about important video metrics.

What about 360 video?

To this traditional set of questions, 360 video adds (at least) three more:

  • Do people engage with the 360 function?
  • Are important elements inside the 360 video seen?
  • Do people click on / interact with these important spots, i.e. what’s your conversion rate?

Let’s have a look at different ways of tracking these user interactions in a 360 environment. We’ll go through social platforms analytics, before turning to third-party video hosts.

360 Video Analytics on Social Platforms

Only Facebook has 360 analytics

Youtube was the first to pioneer large-scale 360 video distribution in early 2015, yet it does not provide its own 360 analytics suite. Periscope/Twitter and Instagram also support the format but have not rolled out analytics yet.

Facebook is thus the only leading social platform to provide complete 360 video analytics. Downside: your video needs at least 50 000 unique viewers to unlock most of the tools. Still want to be able to user-test your 360 video? Check section 2.

Three tools to answer the three questions above: Interaction Rates, Guides and Heat maps.

Interaction Rates for 360 video

Do people engage with the 360 function? As a new medium, 360 video changes the user’s consumption habits. Interaction Rate provides data on whether the user noticed they could freely look around the environment. If so when did they get it? Did they fully use it to interact with your story? As it takes some time before spinning around the office becomes second nature, it’s good to make sure your production efforts do not go to waste, and that your target audience is indeed interested in the media.

Guides for 360 video

360 video user test

Are important elements inside the 360 video seen? To make sure your audience isn’t lost, Facebook introduced Guides for 360 video, quite a unique tool in the 360 video metrics landscape. Guides allow content creators to add “points” to important spots. The video will then auto-turn to these points, making sure 360 newbies get a sense of the medium. This function can be turned off should the viewer prefer exploring on its own. In our opinion, this is a great tool to boost adoption of the medium. But we hope users will prefer exploring on their own, as freedom is the real key to complete immersion and the real potential of the medium.

Heat maps for 360 video

360 video user test

Do people click on / interact with these important spots, i.e. what’s your conversion rate? Available for videos with more than 50 000 unique views, Heat maps answers one crucial question: where are most people looking at? Combined with chosen “traditional” metrics, this extra piece of information gives valuable insights as to what worked and what didn’t. For instance, your drop-off rate can now be correlated to specific objects / subjects in your video: when people quit, where were they looking at? It’s great feedback to keep improving your content, understanding your audience and measuring success.

And if you’re far from 50 000 unique views, fear not! Heat maps is a widely provided service by different players in the VR industry. Check it out below.

360 Video Analytics Beyond Social Networks

Interesting custom solutions are provided by video hosting platforms. It is a thriving and experimental field: both start-ups and established companies in the VR industry are striving to understand and define so-called “immersion metrics”. Their goal? Understanding how 360 video and VR/AR environments could drive ROI for advertisers. Most efforts are focusing on understanding the user. It’s indeed the user’s freedom of choice and natural actions that need to be understood, so as to cater to their needs.

Heat maps

360 analytics are still very much in their infancy, and most services revolve around heat mapping. As of today, no platform provides an all-inclusive analytics package – you get additional information but you’ll need to combine it with the other metrics tracked by Google Analytics to answer most of your 360 video-related questions.

We’re confident that in a few months time, this should not even be a problem anymore.

Third-parties solutions

  • Business video hosting provider Wistia rolled-out their very own heat mapping service mid-2016. Well-known for their video analytics services, Wistia was very reactive in addressing 360 analytics needs.
  • VR/360 content-creation and hosting platform Viar 360 provides heat mapping services and in-video A/B testing, using hotspots. An interesting feature are so-called “invisible hotspots”, that track whether your message or object made it to your viewer’s attention, naturally (i.e. without triggering them into looking, thus the “invisibility” of the hotspot).
  • Canadian start-up Retinad is about to release their own heat map-based analytics for 360 video and VR. Active in the advertising and VR industries, they aim at giving insights into what people are looking at and for how long. A/B testing will also be a feature.
  • Authoring, branding and publishing platform InstaVR also provides their 360 heat mapping services, with a tie-in to Google Analytics that allows gaze tracking through hotspot activation. Being also a publishing platform, InstaVR allows you to modify your video by adding hotspots once it’s published, based on the feedback you receive from the heat map.

Beyond 360: Immersion Metrics in VR

To get an idea what prosumer 360 analytics might become, both on social and elsewhere, we should have a look at the VR industry. Real advances in the technology are happening there, specifically coming from the gaming industry.

What’s the difference between VR and 360 video?

VR is typically a computer-generated environment. As far as user-testing is concerned, the main difference is the way it’s consumed: user put on a headset, and sometimes use hand controllers. VR environment also allow movement on a “z” axis, i.e. moving in the scene. Thus, user behavior in such an immersive environment is much more natural, and elements to be tracked are numerous.

State of research in the VR Industry

Unity spearheads VR gaming by offering developers a platforms to create, publish and analyze VR games. They’re the reference in VR experience-making, and there’s no doubt the huge advances of their services and products will inspire the VR industry at large, and spill down to 360 video.

CognitiveVR is a startup who’s VR services for marketing and advertising announce what complete 360 video analytics might look like.

Ghostline Analytics, from VR studio Aldin aims at providing creators with insights into how users interact with a complex VR environment.

A glimpse at the future…

And the talk goes on on the many many possibilities into what the future might hold for us…

  • Behavioral analysis
  • Eye-tracking movement
  • Hand Controller
  • Biometric data analysis…