YouTube on Friday announced viewing heatmaps for 360-degree and virtual reality (VR) videos, describing the new service as yet another tool aimed at assisting content creators with analyzing their clips. Just like their name suggests, YouTube heatmaps will provide channel owners with a straightforward representation of their audience's viewing habits, mapping areas on which they are focused on. The Google-owned online video service is hoping that the tool will help creators have a better understanding of how viewers engage with their content, consequently leading them to produce more interesting videos in the future. YouTube heatmaps are currently available for all 360-degree and VR videos with 1,000 and more views, the firm said, with the wording of its announcement implying how that limit won't be changed going forward.
YouTube Product Manager Frank Rodriguez also announced that the San Bruno, California-based video giant is launching VR Creator Lab, its first "VR intensive program" designed to educate content producers on how to create high-quality VR experiences. The company has yet to provide details on the exact curriculum of the initiative, though it's already accepting applications from its community of producers, Rodriguez said, adding that the first iteration of the program will take place in Los Angeles at YouTube Space later this year. It's understood that VR Creator Lab will also cover applications of the newly launched video heatmaps, one of which can be seen in the screenshot beneath this writing, showing key focus areas of viewers watching Pearl, YouTube's Oscar-nominated short created by Patrick Osborne. The tool was seemingly designed to be as intuitive as possible, featuring a wide-angle view of the video with a heatmapping overlay and a simple map legend located immediately above the top-right corner of the clip.
Rodriguez said that YouTube's developers have been using the new service for a while now, consequently finding out that 75 percent of people's time is spent watching the front 90 degrees of any video. Based on that revelation, the Google-owned firm recommends creators to focus on that area of their clips in an effort to increase user engagement rates. More details on the company's VR endeavors are expected to follow later this year.