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Facebook Adds 360 Video Guide and Heatmap Tools

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With more than 250,000 360 videos uploaded to Facebook since the feature launched in News Feed last September, publishers have been looking to Facebook to provide even more tools to help them better engage with audiences.

Now Facebook is hoping to make 360 videos easier to navigate for viewers and help creators learn more about how viewers respond to watching their immersive content.

The latest update announced Wednesday includes two new tools for 360 video publishers, introducing some much requested features like a ‘Guide’ feature and ‘Heatmap’ visual insights tool.

360 Video Guide

Working to help viewers who just want to lean back and enjoy a 360 video and publishers who want to give viewers a more guided tour of the video as it plays, Guide will make sure all key highlights are seen.

With a good amount of 360 video viewers probably never actually touching their mouse or phone to swipe around and view 360 video content, Guide will let you set the narrative by highlighting specific points of interest in the field of view.

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The new tool can be found in the “360 Controls” tab after uploading a 360 formatted video. You will be able to select points where viewers will be automatically directed around the video as it plays. Guide will be turned on by default for viewers. Viewers who prefer to not watch via Guide can simply pan or swipe out of the scene to explore the full 360-degree view on their own. If they’d like to return to the guided experience, tapping the heading indicator on the right side of the video (which will say “Auto” whenever Guide is turned on) will bring back the Guide.

360 Video Heatmap

Probably one of the more requested features we’ve heard from advertisers ourselves when we create 360 video content, the new Facebook publisher insights tool helps you understand which parts of the video your audience finds most interesting.

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Heatmap shows specific portions of the field of view that viewers spent the most time watching, displaying a visual map that highlights the “hottest” parts of your video. This information is pulled from aggregate data of our view ports, measuring every time your viewer moves 30° within the scene.

Heatmap is already available for any 360 video posted from May 1, but it must have more than 50,000 unique viewers, potentially making this tool out of reach for independent creators.

For publishers who decide to use Guide — taking advantage of Heatmap as well might make a killer combination to inform how you should select your points of interest and further optimize the immersive video content experience.

On top of Guide and Heatmap, Facebook also announced that they will be providing more demographic data of viewers to publishers of 360 videos. Allowing you to break out minutes viewed by age, gender, and top geographic locations.

For those of you who decide to take the new tools out for a test drive, let us know how you like it. You can expect us to continue shooting more 360 video content and taking advantage of the new features in the near future and report back.

About the Scout

Jonathan Nafarrete

Jonathan Nafarrete is the co-founder and editor-in-chief of VRScout.

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