Return to site

Why VR Heatmaps are a Big Deal for Marketers

Modern Marketers Love Numbers

As a veteran of the web analytics industry, I know the value of numbers to marketers. Data drives decisions at companies big and small. And thanks to the power of the internet and web-based software, modern marketers have access to more numbers than ever before.

VR has historically not been about numbers though. It's been about creating unique and compelling experiences. Virtual Reality helps marketers transport potential customers into a world they wouldn't otherwise experience. It lets consumers feel what it's like to drive a car, view a new apartment, or envision a planned community -- all without leaving their living room. 

But Virtual Reality historically only provided limited visibility into the effectiveness of the experience. Until recently... enter heatmaps.

broken image

What is a Heatmap?

Heatmaps were in the news today, as Facebook is now rolling them out for 360 videos on their site. InstaVR has been offering this feature since April, and it's been very well-received. But for those new to heatmaps, I'll give you a quick primer.

Virtual reality is an immersive experience. But at any given moment, you can only look in one direction -- this is your focus point. As you visually focus on an area, that data is being sent back to the InstaVR servers, letting us know that something is capturing your attention in that space.

The heatmap aggregates all of that visual focus data, and overlays it directly on your VR experience. The result looks something like this:

broken image

Why Heatmaps Matter to Marketers

As you can see from the screenshot above, heatmaps provide a lot of data. But to benefit from them, you have to interpret the data. You have to determine if people are people looking at a certain area because: A.) It's visually interesting B.) There's a hotspot there C.) They recognize something familiar D.) It's brightly colored E.) Something else

Once you've figured out why your heatmap looks the way it does, there's a number of things you can do. You can extrapolate what people would be interested in real life (in the example above, the bottom of the corkscrew stairs and the furniture seem to be attracting people's gazes). You can refine your VR experience to drive behavior (perhaps putting a hotspot in the breakfast nook area, which currently isn't getting as much attention). Or you can A/B or multivariate test VR experiences to see which is most effective.

Why InstaVR is the Leader in Heatmaps

As I already stated, we've had heatmaps available since April, four months ahead of Facebook. But that's not the only reason InstaVR's heatmaps are superior. Here's  a quick list of other great things about InstaVR's heatmap feature:

1. InstaVR's heatmaps work for all embedded VR web experiences created by our customers, not just those posted to Facebook

2. InstaVR's heatmaps work on iOS, Android, Gear VR and Google Cardboard. With the majority of users accessing VR through mobile apps, our heatmaps capture a lot more data points. We also publish to, and capture heatmap data from, the most popular HMD (Head-Mounted Display).

3. InstaVR's heatmap videos show gaze focus across time. You can utilize this feature to understand where visitors look initially vs. later on during their VR experience. Since you want the beginning part of any VR experience to be extremely compelling, making the VR experience stickier, you can adjust your VR experience based on the heatmap data.


Making great Virtual Reality is both an art and a science. The art portion is capturing great images/video and adding interesting navigation and hotspots in InstaVR. The science portion is using InstaVR's analytics and heatmaps to extract user information and improve your VR experience. 

We want to help you maximize your experience with InstaVR. Don't hesitate to reach out to our Head of Sales & Marketing, Andrew Woodberry, if you have any questions on our heatmap technology --