Facebook is making its 360-degree videos more immersive and easier to navigate.
The social network introduced a new “guide” feature that allows users to highlight specific portions of the video before posting it. The feature launched alongside a bigger update to Facebook’s publisher tools, which included a set of new features that allow page owners to see more detailed stats around how their readers are interacting with their video content.
The new guide feature for 360-degree videos, which you can see in action in the video below, is meant to make it easier for people viewing the clips to find the most interesting parts. Unlike viewing in a 360-degree video in a headset, watching the spherical clips on the web may be less intuitive for users.
With the new tool, anyone who posts a 360 video on Facebook can identify the specific parts of the clip they want to direct users to during the video. When the guide — indicated by a circular symbol on the right side of the video — is enabled, the video will automatically move to preset areas of the clip. The feature is enabled by default, but users can also opt out if they prefer to “steer” the video themselves.
Facebook is also providing a new analytics tool called Heatmap for 360-degree videos that have more than 50,000 views. Heatmap tracks which parts of a 360 video have been watched the most and provides a visualization that shows the “hottest” parts of a clip
360 video aside, Facebook is also giving publishers new analytics tools that offer a much more comprehensive look at who is watching their video content, and how they are interacting with it.
A new audience demographic dashboard will show minutes viewed broken down by age, location and gender for any given video.
Additionally, page owners will be able to keep tabs on whether video views came directly from their own post or from another page or user sharing it.
Facebook is also proving new analytics specifically for live video, with tools that track which moments in a live video garnered the most comments, reactions and likes.
Some of these video metrics may sound a little creepy. That Facebook knows exactly where, when and how users are consuming video (like other insights the company provides, it tracks these stats in aggregate) may be off-putting to some. But it fits in nicely with Facebook’s goal of a video-dominant network.
And as Facebook continues that push into video, tools like these will be increasingly important to the network’s publishers looking to gain favor with the site’s ever-changing News Feed algorithm. The company already has deals with many media companies (including Mashable) to pay them to produce live broadcasts, and in March, the company announced it would rank live videos higher in News Feed.
More recently, Facebook revealed it would begin experimenting with commercial breaks during live broadcasts. But if Facebook (and its media partners) hope to make serious money off their burgeoning video business, they’ll need a much better understanding of how users are consuming video content.