The story of interactive video is one of the oldest new stories about video marketing. We were making them over ten years ago before Apple put a kibosh on things!¹

This year marks a resurgence of online interactive videos, as this article explains.

Anyone who has to connect with their audience online, in any area from research to marketing, sales and customer service, will know the value of holding someone’s time online.

Business video content is proven to enhance many online experiences, especially in the disciplines of marketing and promotion.²

Interactive video further enhances the value of the
video experience, to the viewer and the supplier.

YouTube’s ‘Annotations’ ³ and the popular ‘360 degree’ ⁴ videos are examples you may be aware of.

There is also a deeper, more immersive form, which will be soon available to most businesses, that we are calling Online Interactive Video. Here is our very own example!

What is an Online Interactive Video?

What makes an interactive video interactive is that the customer contact takes place within the frame of the business video itself. The viewer has to move their cursor to somewhere indicated on the screen to click, just like a DVD or Video Game – except that this is happening online.

This is quite different to clicking outside the video – on the video player to pause, fast-forward, reverse for example – and different to clicking on the webpage the video and its video player resides on.

This matters because the fact that the interaction happens within the web video means it is happening exactly where the viewer is focussed at that moment. You have their attention.

Studies show the interactive video content have completion rates of around 90% compared to the 50% – 80% on standard video content, and often have higher repeat views.

Click-through rates are also greatly improved with 5-12% compared to 1-2% on a stardard video. (Room214.com)

An Immersive Video Experience

Interaction within the video provides a deeper more immersive experience for the viewer that builds on the core strengths of online video to engage, hold attention and influence the customer journey and, ultimately, customer purchase decisions.

Making best use of this interaction when it happens online is the challenge for marketers and filmmakers alike.

The Features of Online Interactive Video

The online interactive video we are about to describe has been available for a long time. It relied on Adobe Flash to create the actions on screen and was a specialist niche development activity halfway between programming and design¹. Recent developments in HTML 5 technology mean that any organisation can now have their own interactive videos.

Perhaps the best way to describe this is as ‘Annotations Plus’. As well as hotspots with links, an online interactive video allows the video owner a wider range of options including:

  • Inserting videos within videos
  • Using chapter markers linked to a chapter index
  • Optional and non-optional questions and quizzes
  • Branched conversations
  • A form to harvest email addresses and comments.

From the users point of view the required interactivity can be engaging, interesting and helpful. Video is already known to be deeply engaging to most people. Interactivity extends that engagement. It takes it to a new level, one that can benefit the savvy marketer and their video marketing campaigns.

Interactive Video = DATA

For the video owner the single biggest benefit is DATA.

Interactive videos keep viewers engaged for longer, more than the typical few seconds. The longer viewers are engaged, the more opportunities to gather data about them.

If all you received from the viewers interaction was an email address that would be a positive result in itself.

The potential is far greater than that.

Through the careful positioning of questions throughout the video, (how and what is asked) you can start to draw some impressions about your viewership; what they like, don’t like, who they are and where they are in their purchase journey towards finding answers, towards buying from you.

For the user the interactive video is intended to be a deeper, more personalised, engaging and immersive experience. How this is achieved depends on the relevance of the content to the viewer, and then, how it is presented to them. So the filmmakers’ skill is still relevant.

Here is an example of an interactive video designed to combine these two elements in an audience specific way:
Iggy Azalea ft. Diplo & FKi — I Think She Ready

It was designed as an online shopping experience. As a viewer you could go directly from the video to open up a shopping cart within the video player and purchase any item directly through the video.

We have focused here on a commercial application. There will be examples in virtually any field where audience participation and feedback (in more or less real-time) will be valuable for example: Education and Training, Qualitative Market Research, Travel and Tourism and Customer Service applications being some obvious examples.

Return on Investment

Interactivity like this requires more ‘thinking through’ than a regular video content. The objectives of the video, how you plan to nurture your viewer through the video, the options you want to give them and the outcomes you seek will affect what and how you film.

Your rewards will include:

  • Deeper engagement
  • More completion of objectives
  • Detailed collation of analytics at an individual and an aggregate ‘market-view’ level
  • Permissive email harvesting
  • Ideal for inbound marketing

Following are some footnotes to provide context to the article above.

¹ In April 2010 Stephen Job of Apple published an open letter about why Apple would no longer support Adobe Flash on their iPhine and iPad – we recommend reading this Wikipedia page.

² Please read these pages for recent statistics about video marketing http://www.invodo.com/resources/statistics/

³ For a fuller description about YouTube annotations we recommend this article from YouTube themselves

⁴ Here are three links showing quite different applications of interactive videos. They work best in the Chrome browser.

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