It’s Time For Marketers To Lean In To Interactive Video

Gone are the days in which marketers struggled to find their target audience online. Google, Facebook, YouTube and their kind have seen to that – although some very influential marketers, including Keith Weed of Unilever and Marc Pritchard from P&G, have understandably sought to address the trust issues by which the digital media marketplace is beset.

An equally tricky challenge lies in getting audiences to engage with video content, absorb its purpose, watch to the end – and actually take positive action.

As has always been the case, the key to achieving cut-through in a cluttered environment – whether in marketing, the broader business context, the arts or society at large – is to say something original and deliver it in a fresh and engaging way. In advertising, it’s been vogueish for some time now to talk gravely about the importance of ‘storytelling’. And rightly so.

But is that enough any more? A huge proportion of the cost sunk into online video production and distribution, as with all advertising, is ultimately wasted (not to speak of the blood, sweat and tears). People simply don’t have time for it. Despite the amount of time we spend glued to our mobile devices, there are other things in life to concern us.

And of course, a lot of it is not very good. You might say that marketers’ movies are frequently playing to empty theatres or theatres in which the audience up sticks and leave after the first scene.

Those that do stick around to the end and want to act on what they’ve watched are often expected to navigate through very convoluted user journeys before their ordeal is over. It’s no surprise that average conversion rates are so microscopic. Many simply throw in the towel and move on to the next shiny thing vying for their attention. And those little films of dachshunds dressed as Darth Vader are strangely watchable.

We believe that telling better stories in online content increasingly requires the adoption of new technology and correspondingly innovative creative thinking.

It’s predicted that one in three brands will deploy interactive video in their marketing campaigns this year – up from in five in 2017. This can only be attributed to an increasing audience demand for better, more enriched and more powerful video. We’ve been doing this longer than anyone else, and we believe we’re witnessing a paradigm shift in video consumption.

Interactive video is all about making video work harder, either by boosting viewer engagement, educating audiences or maximizing commercial impact.

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It works by making products, people and objects in video touchable and clickable in order to have the viewer find out more info, explore additional creative content, be taken elsewhere in a short or long form narrative, enter a competition, book a test drive, or buy a product/service.

This is about starting a dialogue with your audience, encouraging them to lean forward and take part rather than leaving them to sit back and simply consume your monologue – or more probably, forget it ever existed.

Online video is now a container of portals to infinite possibilities – it’s as connected as everything else, and to everything else, on the internet. These are some of the things you can do:

  • Hotspots and overlays – visual calls-to-action that stick to moving people or objects and introduce layers of new content when tapped
  • Video branching – viewer-selected options that give your audience a choice of narrative paths through your content
  • Multi-stream playback – synchronises multiple video layers and enables viewers to switch between them seamlessly, in real time
  • Interactive 360º – by adding hotspots, overlays and branching, you can ensure viewers actually get something out of 360 rather than the usual passive feeling

Our experience teaches us that interactive video typically delivers 3.5x higher engagement than ordinary video because it creates a tangible link between the viewer and actual things in the video that they’re engaging with. In fact, our unique motion-tracking hotspots deliver 9x better interaction rates than simple static buttons.

This fundamentally changes the user experience for the better. Across the board, the number of viewers taking the opportunity to interact has never been higher. 67% of all interactive video viewers do so, on average three times, and that number is growing fast. What’s more, they’re much more likely to watch to completion, from where they can be inveigled into taking the next step down a purchase funnel or moving seamlessly straight to that purchase.

No wonder the ROI stats for interactive video are so high. In our recent shoppable video campaign for Ted Baker, we delivered $70k of revenue in the first week alone, with two-thirds of the viewing audience interacting leading to a 30% overall uplift in sales.

But this isn’t just a marketing evolution. The world’s best ‘real’ storytellers, like Disney and Netflix, have begun putting interactivity at the centre of their strategies, with creativity driving the technology. WIREWAX have been working with the BBC, MGM-owned OTT provider EPIX and other broadcasters for some time to integrate interactive technology with programming. They’re literally exploring the future of TV.

If marketers really are concerned about telling better stories and not getting left behind, they should take note.

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