Taking Users In Through the Out Door With Interactive Video

Interactive video compositeA key objective of any content strategy is to speak to your target audience or user and draw them into the story. The rising trend of interactive video enables you to do just that — almost literally.

Interactive video blends linear film or video with interaction options. It’s been on the rise since 2005 thanks to the growing quantity of users who can access the internet at broadband speeds, combined with streaming and other technologies that support it.

Various forms of interactive video include:

  • Exploratory Videos – Videos that allow the user to move through a space or look at an object, such as a painting, from multiple angles, as if they were looking at it in real life. Video loops, not stills, depict the space to create a more ‘live’ feel. To experience this, check Look Around by the Red Hot Chilli Peppers.
  • Hypervideo or Video clickthroughs – Videos encoded with clickable hotspots that entice users to try and take control the story, such as this Shoot a Bear ad.
  • Conversational Videos – Videos that enable the user to interact with it or direct the conversation, almost as though they were having a simple conversation with the characters in the video. In this ESPN video, fans can cut to the chase to hear Jon Hamm (aka Mad Men’s Don Draper) address the topics they care about most.
  • V-Commerce – Video solutions that integrate e-commerce, marketing, merchandising goals. For example, this Ssense celebrity music video entices users to click desired fashion items worn by the celebrities. When they click, they trigger a process to buy that item.

Video helps an organization emotionally connect to users through a story that comes to life with sight and sound. It also helps communicate a extensive information with less risk of misinterpretation than text, images or audio alone. Combine video with social media and today’s other distribution tools, and it becomes mobile, searchable, sharable and measurable.

Interactive video propels these benefits to a new level through a powerful, user-centred digital experience with hands-on engagement. I also think these videos are particularly effective because, they:

  1. Empower the user to control the story and sometimes the amount of information they want to take in at a time.
  2. Elicit a high volume of opens, views and shares, because they are still rare enough to be novel.
  3. Deliver a message that users will likely reinforce through re-plays that let them change their responses to see different outcomes.

Interactive videos work for various applications, such as:

  • Instructions and training
  • Promotional ads for cars, electronics, travel and
    consumer packaged goods
  • Music videos
  • Movie and game promo trailers
  • Fundraising and awareness campaigns

I think they offer huge value to not-for-profits because they can bring the user into the story, pull at their heart-strings to foster empathy and drive offline actions like donations.

An anti-abuse interactive video by Marshall Fenn Communications achieved this by bringing the user into a chilling, domestic scene video with a father threatening his son. It persuaded viewers to stop the abuse by calling a 1-800 number to donate to Boost for Kids Foundation.

Videos like this are often produced as part of an agency’s pro bono efforts to give back to the community. Maybe we’ll see a rise in these not-for-profit videos, as technologies become more cost-effective and the number of free or nominally priced DIY solutions grows.

We’re just beginning to scratch the pixels of interactive media’s potential to evoke emotions, engage users and deliver a rich experience for multiple purposes that create real world impact.

Image Source: Composite image featuring clip from Carly’s Cafe, an interactive video that enables the viewer to experience the sensations of autism.

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