Virtual Reality: Reshaping Digital Analytics
The Future of Virtual Reality and Digital Analytics in measuring digital action and attention
Although virtual reality is not exactly a platform for the masses, it is the most innovative approach to delivering content as of today. The platform, still in its early stages and loads of new creative ideas has already challenged the digital analytics. Virtual reality has the potential to redefine how we think about measuring the bread and butter of digital analytics: attention and action. This article helps you to understand the behind-the-scenes on this new trend.
The state of virtual reality in 2016
Virtual reality is A thing, but not THE thing
The advent of Facebook to the masses has been memorable for most. Back then, it was the thing. Virtual Reality is sort of like that. It’s a thing, everyone knows that, but still not the thing that shapes our lives. This platform is sure to bring about more innovations; almost all the major brands will come out with devices supporting this platform, albeit with a limited content format supported. Right now, you won’t read or follow the news on VR; you won’t buy your stuff with it, and it certainly will not be the platform where you hang out with your friends online. At least, not yet.
Virtual reality platform is not that new
An internet forum is not much different compared to an IRL room full of people – maybe net forums have more trolls – and web marketing in the core definitions is not much different from selling stuff IRL; virtual reality isn’t that much different either. The platform currently has some technical and user experience limitations, but the base remains the same. Analysing data collected through virtual reality is also highly similar to the thing we now know – digital analytics. We measure the same things on virtual reality that we measure in digital analytics: attention on digital content and interaction between the content and the user.
The question would be, how it compares to traditional analytics.
The difference between traditional analytics and virtual reality analytics
Digital analytics is all about measuring how users interact with content in a pre-set environment which can be anything from a website to an app or a feature. Virtual analytics is not much different at its very core.
Measuring actions is pretty much the same in virtual reality as it is in traditional digital analytics. In traditional marketing, when a user clicks on the Purchase button, we can measure the interaction. We can do the same in virtual reality when we measure how many users click-looked on a virtual button. This process can be repeated and used as a default setting for all action-based virtual reality environments. Therefore, measuring an action in virtual reality is easy, and it is pretty much the same as the traditional metrics, only with some slight differences in definitions which can come from the differences between the two environments.
Attention is one of or maybe the most important insight we need to figure out with metrics. It doesn’t matter how many users visited your site if no one paid attention to your content and bounced off. With today’s digital analytics, we do have some metrics which can define the depth of users’ attention. Mouse overs measure where the users’ cursor are, scroll depth also gives us a clue on how the content consumed and we do have some other sophisticated metrics like frequency, content recycling and page depth.
In virtual reality, measuring attention is a bit different because of two reasons. First of all, due to the platform’s environment, we know exactly where the user’s looking. Second, due to the evolving digital content in the virtual reality environment, we have more data, which makes things a bit more challenging to measure. The immersed amount of data processing is more likely a technical challenge and not an analytics one so for now, let’s focus only on the first: the user’s exact attention.
In virtual reality we know where the user’s eyes are. With virtual reality, we can also measure the very essential difference between looking and watching something. The depth of a website, for example, can be measured with frequency, page depth and other metrics. This can be achieved in virtual reality by measuring the amount of time spent by the user looking at the same direction on the environment. With heat maps and other analytics tools, we can accurately show how users are paying attention to our content. This can be very challenging to traditional display advertisers…
A very different user journey
Drawing up a funnel or a user journey is pretty straightforward with traditional analytics. In virtual reality, the user journey is way more complicated because of one simple reason: users love to wander around virtual environment just for fun or the sake of it. This creates an extensive amount of digital noise and leads to lots of miscalculations. Establishing virtual reality zones, where the attention is highly relevant might be an option, but the technology is just not sufficient enough yet to accomplish this challenge. Also, user journey measurement needs users, and as of now, virtual reality is still in its early adopter stage. Once masses are using this platform, the answer for measuring virtual reality user journeys will surface.
How virtual reality will help us shape traditional analytics
We have learned that measuring actions is pretty straight-forward. Therefore we should not overcomplicate it in digital analytics either. Measuring attention, however, is another story. Virtual reality might help us to learn the real value of our display ads and the actual value of user experience design. By adding sufficient and precise metrics to measure the users’ attention, we can make better user experiences and direct more productive ads to users. We have exciting times ahead of us!
Interested to know more about virtual reality? You’re more than welcome to book a Q&A session where we answer all of your further questions.