In the current economic climate, extracting value from digital strategies should be high priority. Interactive video is emerging as a key tool to achieve this.

EOFY is fast approaching and the world remains in a state of flux. If the first half of 2020 has taught us anything, it’s that success (indeed, survival) in the coming financial year hinges on spending smart on sound content marketing and innovation.

One of the biggest emerging trends is interactive video, a format that allows viewers to actively participate and engage more deeply with the content they’re watching. Interactivity has long been the hallmark of the multi-billion dollar gaming industry, but it’s about to break out in a big way, with the world’s leading CRM platform, Salesforce, last month launching an integrationmaking interactive video marketing readily accessible to brands and businesses. 

 

Interactive video goes mainstream

Netflix, of course, was an early adopter, taking interactivity out of the gaming world with 2018’s Black Mirror episode, Bandersnatch. Tinder, a brand heavily geared towards a digitally native audience, delved into the format last September with Swipe Night, an interactive content series hosted on its dating platform. The choices a user made not only determined the course of the storyline, it also served up compatible love matches. 

Both these ventures were so successful they’ve returned in 2020. Netflix just launched an interactive special of comedy series Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt. Meanwhile, Tinder announced in February that Swipe Night is returning for a second season. The company says millions tuned in to season one, driving a 26 per cent increase in matches and lifting conversation on the app by 12 per cent—bucking a trend where users were opening the app less often.

Tinder Swipe Night

Untapped potential for brands

The potential for interactive video goes beyond the realm of scripted entertainment, however. With the technology now available via platforms like Vudoo, interactive videos can be created in a matter of minutes—a far cry from the 2+ years of development that went into Bandersnatch. This accessibility means the applications for interactive video are suddenly far broader.

Retail brands, for instance, can entice buyers with shoppable content featuring in-video links to purchase. Companies can create more compelling comms for internal teams and stakeholders. HR practitioners now have the tools they need to develop more effective video recruitment and onboarding. Online educators have the ability to simultaneously teach and test comprehension with in-video quizzes. And that’s just for starters.

Interactive shoppable video
 

Better metrics, better value

Interactive video isn’t purely about offering a cutting edge viewer experience. The compelling case for the format is the way it turns previously passive viewers into active participants, improving memorability and engagement, as Tinder discovered. Every interactive feature—links, sign-ups, polls, feedback forms or choose-you-own-adventure branching videos à la Netflix and Tinder—creates a data point that provides new performance insights. For the first time, it’s possible to understand how audiences respond, recall or engage with the specific products or information in a video, a significant step change from metrics like play rates and completion rates: actual insights into the content itself.

The implications for any business using video—and in 2020, that’s pretty much everyone—is the ability to understand audiences better and to get a real gauge on the ROI of their content spend. The micro insights offered by interactivity provide measurable metrics that can be used to tweak and optimise future strategies and the content itself, making an already effective medium even more persuasive. 

Interactive video is here to stay and we’re about to see, and experience, a lot more of it. Any digital marketing strategy that doesn’t seriously consider offering interactive experiences in 2020/21 is starting on the back foot. That could have serious consequences come next EOFY.