Hot and Cold : Heatmaps in VR for YouTube

Heatmaps are finally coming to YouTube for 360 video content. This is an amazing new feature for 360 VR content creators! You can now figure out what exactly your audience likes, where they are looking and how they interact with your video. We might think we know where they are looking but it is very difficult to actually get feedback or analytics to prove what you think should be your workflow for 360 video content.

Image of a 360 video with a heatmap on it


Heatmaps will be available for 360-degree and VR videos with over 1,000 views. This will help give you specific insights into how the users are engaging with your content. Here are some of the findings from using this new tool :

  • Focus on what’s in front of you: The defining feature of a 360-degree video is that it allows you to freely look around in any direction, but surprisingly, people spent 75% of their time within the front 90 degrees of a video. So don’t forget to spend significant time on what’s in front of the viewer.
  • Get their attention: While a lot of time is spent focusing on what’s in front, for many of the most popular VR videos, people viewed more of the full 360-degree space with almost 20% of views actually being behind them. The more engaging the full scene is, the more likely viewers will want to explore the full 360-degree view. Try using markers and animations to draw attention to different parts of the scene.
  • Keep different experiences in mind: The context in which people are viewing VR videos matters too. Some might be watching on a mobile and portable Cardboard, while others are watching on a desktop computer. For instance, we found viewers usually need a couple seconds to get situated in Cardboard, which isn’t needed for other devices. So make sure to give your viewers a few seconds before jumping into the action.


Now Heatmaps are nothing new for video players and viewers, but for YouTube it is a big step in producing a more friendly 360 video platform for content creators. Some of the other video players already have used heatmaps to help the creator engage the viewers more efficiently.