Wistia has added 360-degree video support to its business video platform, as well as a Wistia 360 iOS app. The company works with clients such as Amway, HubSpot, MailChimp, Sephora and Tiffany & Co. to help them connect with customers and employees. Wistia has also introduced new heatmap technology designed for analyzing how consumers view 360-degree video.

Chris Savage, CEO and co-founder of Wistia, explains what 360-degree video is already opening up for businesses across various verticals.

How does Wistia currently work with the 200,000 businesses across 50 countries with its current video platform?

Wistia is a video hosting solution and marketing tool for companies that want to share content on their websites and grow their audiences. We share detailed video analytics to improve their production and content strategy.

How much demand was there from these companies to create and host 360-degree content?

This is a relatively new space for our typical customers, but we heard rumblings here and there. More than anything, we saw the potential for businesses to have a completely different type of conversation using 360. We felt empowered to create this type of content, and believed our customers could too.

We’ve also had early interest from video production agencies. They’re getting requests from their clients that are ready to push the envelope with 360 content. There is the expectation that more and more businesses will want to take advantage of 360 because of its ability to engage with viewers in a way that sets them apart from their competitors.

How easy is it to integrate 360-degree video through Wistia?

Three-sixty videos are treated the same way as any other videos that a business uploads to Wistia. It’s a simple file upload and a single checkbox to indicate that you’re sharing a 360 video. Once the video is in Wistia all of the branding and lead generating customizations can be applied.

There’s been early research that 360-degree video content is currently more engaging than traditional video. How will your app and platform allow companies to track and analyze this engagement?

Our 360 video player is recording individual viewing sessions and will provide companies with a heatmap that indicates the parts of the video each viewer watches, skips, etc. Since 360 video allows the viewer to navigate around a space, we needed to track an additional dimension. Our 360 video analytics also allow companies to retrace their individual viewer’s path throughout the video and overlay an infrared-style heatmap over the video to see areas of the video that the entire audience found most interesting.

How do you see this technology impacting the way 360-degree video and marketing content is created moving forward?

With a medium as new as 360 video, analytics are critical to understanding if your message is resonating and if your audience is actually paying attention to the parts of the video you’re trying to highlight.

Wistia’s spatial heatmaps give marketers the insight into which parts of the video are attracting the most attention and the parts that viewers miss entirely. That information should be used to inform future video production and content strategy.

What separates your platform from more consumer-focused platforms such as Facebook 360 and YouTube 360?

Wistia’s offering is really focused on helping businesses share 360 content securely and providing an excellent experience for viewers. Unlike with YouTube and Facebook, Wistia allows you to control where your videos can be embedded, customize the video player to match your brand, and then measure every interaction with the video right down to the user level. Wistia’s 360 heatmaps provide tracking at a far more detailed and actionable level than any consumer platform, meaning businesses can determine exactly where people are looking throughout their 360 videos, and use this data to make smarter marketing decisions.

Are there any examples of businesses already using your 360 platform or app?

Automotive Advertising Group in Florida created 360 walkthroughs of available cars at dealerships and the specific features in cars.

Bottle Rocket Media in Chicago created interactive 360 content for clients, like a 360 cocktail walkthrough with a bartender.

Are there particular industries or sectors that are early adopters of 360-degree video?

We’re definitely seeing real estate, live action events (NBA, surfing, etc.), journalism (interactive storytelling), and the travel industry (tours of monuments) adopt 360-degree video first.

What impact are all of these new consumer-friendly 360-degree cameras having on marketing in this new space?

The impact that the consumer-friendly 360 cameras are having is huge. Expectations are starting to change and businesses are realizing they have an opportunity to get in front of early adopters if they jump on 360 now.

How big a role do you believe 360-degree videos will play in marketing and the way businesses interact over the next five years?

We’re already seeing the huge investments that companies like Google and Facebook are making to support 360 video and virtual reality content. They’re betting big on this technology, and we feel just as confident that it is going to play a huge role in marketing in the next five years. There is a lot of potential for companies to connect with their audience in a more tangible way with 360 video. We created the 360 video player to support those types of experiences. By inviting viewers into a story or experience, they’re having a more memorable interaction with a company. Businesses increase their brand’s recognition by building a more engaged audience.

How has the influx of smartphones and mobile VR headsets such as Google Cardboard and Samsung Gear VR impacted the decisions for companies to enter this 360 space?

360 video is an entirely new medium. Consumers are walking around with smartphones and laptops that let them easily watch 360 videos. We’re just a few years away from a time when people also walk around with the headsets their phones will attach to, which will make 360 truly immersive. As this shift occurs, marketers that don’t think about and invest in communicating through 360 videos will be missing an opportunity to find their core audiences at their most engaged moments.