Shoot the Bear? How brands use interactive video

Interactive video has huge potential for brands to more effectively engage with their consumers and many have experimented with it over the past ten years. The concept of interactive video and its technological capabilities has been around for a while. But it is only in recent years that brands have really taken advantage of it, allowing viewers to manipulate the narrative of a video ad, extending or altering outcomes to suit their preferences or clicking through to different videos. Many of these ads have made a big impact in what has become a saturated online video market.

As social media, streaming TV and YouTube have created an insatiable thirst for on-demand media consumption, the ability to control the trajectory of a video ad suits the soundbite generation. Interactive video ads can add a layer of engagement and excitement missing on other channels in a landscape filled with users with rapidly decreasing attention spans. As this 2014 Google study states, users today want to ‘actively engage, deciding if, when, where and how they interact with brands’.

The correction fluid company Tipp-Ex were relative pioneers of the what happens next? You decide interactive video with their now inactive ‘Hunter Shoots a Bear’ campaign from 2010. Clicking on how you wanted to resolve the story in-turn led users to the main profile page of the brand and a series of alternate endings. The ad has been viewed over 22 million times to-date.

This Coca-Cola ad is another effective example of interactivity, giving the user the ability to dictate the point-of-view they experience. The varying ups and downs of a mother/daughter relationship can be witnessed from either perspective, and finally from the perspective of a grandchild. The ad inspires multiple views, to fully immerse yourself in each character’s narrative and this subsequently reaffirms the brand’s message. The interactive quality here empowers the user to make their own decisions about what they want to see and when, also teasing them to click again. This empowerment lends itself to clothing brands too, with users able to fully engage with and manipulate the creative process and ultimate outcomes themselves. In this 2011 ad from Madewell users select which garments, styles and accessories the models will wear in limited five-second slots, meaning gratification is relatively fast. Viewers also stick with the ad to view the final product they have created.

Hyper-localising ads and targeting distinct groups is an area also developing. Some clothing brands, for example, are now using the capability to dictate ads delivered to certain geographical areas depending on the weather. UK clothing brand Very for example are now advertising, on mobile, based on meteorology.

As the use of quizzes, championed by the likes of buzzfeed, infographics and newsletters to accompany a brand’s message, continue to infiltrate the industry advertisers agree that “The way we’ve told stories about our brands and products is changing, even if the stories themselves are not”.


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