What Makes a Great Interactive Video?

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While there are many things you can do with interactive video, there are several qualities that all of the best examples share. As you consider how to add this medium to your marketing mix, keep these best practices in mind.

They use interaction thoughtfully

First of all, great interactive videos are intentionally designed. Just as you strategically design a user interface to make a digital product or website easy to use, an interactive video should also be designed with the end user in mind. A great video is not interactive for the sake of it. Use interactivity to enhance the user experience, not brag.

Healthline is a great example of a brand that is thoughtfully designing this medium. When it comes to health, everyone’s journey and experience is different, which makes interactive video perfect for telling their story. Healthline’s Type 2 Diabetes Video asks users about their personal health experience to craft the right content for each individual user. The experience is easy to navigate, and the information is personalized and meaningful – the ideal combination for a well-designed interactive video.

They use gamification

Interactive video gives marketers the ability to gamify a video experience in a way linear video never could. This technique is called forking or creating multiple content paths for a user to create a unique experience that they select themselves. The Healthline video above used forking to create different content paths based on the user’s own situation. The Healthline video may have been more serious, but this technique can also be used for fun.

Warner Bros. showed how interactive video can create a choose-your-adventure-style experience for audiences. The brand’s promotional video for Focus, a film about a veteran con man, lets viewers sample the fan art. Users can choose to try to scam an art dealer, internet tycoon, or investment banker. Each one comes with a series of challenges to create a game-like experience that they couldn’t have achieved with linear video. With this example, Warner Bros. shows how you can create a playful video game with a few simple branches.

They are attractive and entertaining.

Great marketing doesn’t just sell products, its fun and entertaining for the audience. This is true for most media outlets; Think of the best social media campaigns and Super Bowl ads. The ones that come to mind probably have an entertainment factor built into the campaign. Interactive video takes video marketing entertainment to a whole new level.

One brand that got it right was Honda. The auto giant wanted to showcase the diversity of the Civic Type R as part family car, part performance vehicle. In his video, users can toggle between two parallel but completely different stories by literally typing “R” on their keyboard. One story positions the Civic as a family car; the protagonist of the story picks up his daughters from school and fulfills other parental duties. Meanwhile, if you type “R”, you’ll see the same man, still in a Civic, living a much more intense and dangerous life as an undercover agent attacking a grand robbery. Honda shows how interactive video can be an almost cinematic experience if you weave yourself into an entertaining plot.

They allow the user to be part of the story.

Perhaps one of the greatest assets of video is its ability to tell a strong story. Interactive video takes storytelling to new heights, allowing your viewers to become characters in your brand’s story making decisions about how the plot unfolds.

A great example of this is a video from popular rock artist Coldplay, who released an interactive music video for their single “Ink.” In the video, the viewer plays the role of the main character and makes decisions about his choices throughout the video. Truly becoming part of the character’s quest to find his long lost love. In total, there are 300 different paths the video could take based on the various branching options. The video won a Webby for Best Use of Interactive Video due to its original approach to a traditional music video.

Interactive video is a non-linear, gamified medium that allows users to click, drag, scroll, and interact with video content. It’s a popular, tractable, and highly effective way to convert users and help you achieve your marketing goals. When you’re designing your interactive video, remember to follow these best practices:

Use interaction thoughtfully:  Design the video user experience as thoughtfully as you would a website or app.

Gamify the user experience:  Use the interactive tools available to create a gaming experience where the viewer can choose their own destiny.

Be entertaining:  don’t just talk about your brand. Add value and create a fun experience for your viewers.

Let the user play a role:  Create a powerful storyline and make your viewer feel like they have a role in your brand story.

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About the Author: Mark Callaway