3 rules on how to use VR data analytics for your product

You’ve heard about it in the office, read about it in the New York Times, and maybe even demoed it in the NYC Samsung store — virtual reality is here and is capturing the curiosity of consumers and transforming the way businesses operate.

Marketers, gamers, teachers, entrepreneurs, producers, you name it — everyone wants a piece of the shiny new industry. Why now?

See also: What brands need to know about AR and VR

VR has been around for decades and yet, according to Google, search volume about the topic has increased by 400 percent in the past year alone. Vast technological improvements have recently equipped the industry with the proper tools to show consumers the power of immersive media to transform our world.

While the concept of virtual reality has been around since the ’60s, the actual benefits of extracting and analyzing data from VR experiences have just been gifted to the world in a big red bow. Let’s unwrap it and see if it fits.

#1: There is no industry without analytics

Economic standards do not exist until industries create them; this is not accomplished until data is used for what it does best — provide answers. Whether it’s Google Analytics data for the web or Nielsen statistics for television, every company must be able to draw accurate analyses from their data.

Play counts don’t cut it in 2017. What knowledge do you gain from page views and click counts? Does a click prove actual viewability? And does a view prove engagement? Of course not. View, share, and click metrics don’t incorporate human visual perception. Thus, by not taking actual consumer actions into account, there’s no real value stemming from the data.

In contrast, effective virtual reality analytics provide you with statistics of the trends and outliers that you weren’t aware of but should be; when creating and revising your content. VR analytics provide real value in understanding your audience’s preferences and behavior. Once a deep understanding is achieved, the opportunities are endless. Refine your target market, strategy, reach or whatever it may be, because knowing your audience’s varying tastes provides answers to the questions you didn’t even know you had.

#2: Attention is the currency of the 21st century

Data is the new gold standard. The New York Times stated in 2007 that people saw an average of 5,000 ads per day; imagine how many ads we see as media evolves. We live in a world full of distractions, so it’s increasingly rare to have someone’s complete attention.

Virtual reality provides the opportunity for an experience totally void of distraction, letting the user naturally engage with the experience. Use the world’s newfound enthusiasm and curiosity for VR to your advantage. Make use of the time consumers spend in this intimate world wisely by logging what users are looking at as actionable business intelligence.

Virtual reality users generate data regardless of whether or not you take action — it’s a matter of collecting and sorting the data. For the first time, the combination of the user’s physical behavior and their physical interaction from the VR headset actively tells you what people are engaging with — you just have to listen.

#3: Make sure there’s a “what” behind the “wow”

We’ve all seen it — the smiles, the laughs, the screams, the squelches — but not all VR experiences are the same. Let’s put it this way: if we go see a comedy, we aren’t laughing at the same jokes or even if we are, we aren’t necessarily laughing for the same reasons. So why does VR elicit the reactions that it does?

Understanding the semantics helps us solve the equation — it’s simple algebra. We have the solution, now let’s solve for the variable — what gets users to that “wow” moment. The “wow” is the optimal outcome of the VR experience, while the “what” is the user’s participation or contemplation.

When Kevin Durant was considering leaving the Oklahoma City Thunder to join the Golden State Warriors, the Warriors co-owner, Peter Guber, wanted Durant to feel what it was like to be a Warrior. Since Durant was still playing for the Thunder and couldn’t publicly announce his possible move to the Warriors, he couldn’t go to Oakland to see the locker room or have a feel for the court and the team.

Or could he? An enthusiast of both basketball and virtual reality, Guber made a custom VR experience to show KD what it would really be like to be a Golden State Warrior. While actually sitting on a couch in the Hamptons, Durant was virtually walking around the Oracle Arena with fellow Warriors Steph Curry, Draymond Green, Klay Thompson, and other future teammates. He felt the team’s camaraderie inside the Warrior’s huddle, he saw the spirit of the players as they ran out to court on game night, he heard the crowd go wild at tip off; he got a true taste of what it would be like to be a Golden State Warrior.

But which of those feelings overwhelmed him to the point of wanting to be a part of their team? Wouldn’t it be valuable for the Warriors to know exactly what Durant was watching when he agreed to sign with them? On a macro level, imagine if we could have this information for even a quarter of the players in the NBA. We’d know what these players care most about and what truly drives them to be a dedicated athlete — is it the team’s culture, the fame, the love of the game, or the victories that keep the players on the court? For Durant, we can only speculate.

As we all now know, the user experience is key. Understanding the sensory value of a user’s experience is essential in order to replicate it. What is making your user smile or say, “wow, this is so cool” when they’re locked in your story in virtual reality? Knowing what led to the smile, or any emotion, is essential in optimizing the way users get to the “wow!” moment.

So let’s recap. It’s important to remember that:

  • There is no industry without analytics: for VR to become a viable industry, we need data and we need to make data-driven decisions.
  • Attention is currency: with our ever multi-tasking society, learning how and on what users spend their time tells us what is most important to them.
  • There is a “what” behind the “wow:” knowing what specifically is driving the reactions of people experiencing VR will drive the industry to new heights and ultimately monetize a guideless industry.

Look out for part two as we dive deeper into the world of virtual reality analytics and most importantly how this industry will be monetized.

VR Landscape
This article is part of our Virtual Reality series. You can download a high-resolution version of the landscape featuring 431 companies here.

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