Why Interactive Video is Kind of a Big Deal

What is interactive video – and why should you bother with it?

Well, the first part’s dealt with easily enough. Remember those old Choose Your Old Adventure books that were so popular in the late ‘80s/early 90s? You’d be thrust into the role of a knight exploring a haunted castle, a spy caught behind enemy lines, or something similar, and every couple of pages you’d be presented with a choice: go left to slay the dragon, go right to avoid the beast and run home, maybe watch a little TV, hope it doesn’t eat you or any of your little friends. They were pretty good fun! 
Interactive video is essentially an evolution of this tradition (in spirit, if not necessarily in form) where the user is, to a certain extent, given control over the narrative. The idea is to create a personalised, immersive, viewer-driven experience; one where choices have consequences and lead to unique outcomes.
Of course, Choose Your Own Adventure novels did fall out of favour pretty quickly, so the question of interactive video’s value remains valid.
The Question of Interactive Video’s Value
Typical video is a passive medium where the viewer is expected to sit back and absorb information. Interactive video is a little different. An average one or two minute clip on your website will talk about your services in varying levels of detail; an interactive clip allows for links to these services to pop up on-screen – and even hotspots linking to relevant web pages to be built within the visuals. The effect is that these web pages and the video ‘become one’. Viewers become users – and potentially become customers or clients.
Consider the success of video games, an industry that has outpaced the film industry in terms of revenue. ‘Sandbox’ titles that let players do a thousand things are particularly popular: the Grand Theft Auto series – which lets you play tennis, rob banks and get haircuts, among other things – has sold tens of millions of copies. The chief attraction isn’t the graphics, the gameplay, or even the cathartic violence. They’re mere flourishes: it’s the sheer variety and the sense that the player is shaping their own story.
Video is a great medium – certainly, nothing beats a great video – but there’s no denying that the choice it presents is usually pretty basic: “Do I keep watching this, or should I do something else?” And “something else” encompasses a variety of different things: water polo, hanging out with friends, spending time with your kids, amateur millinery – basically the entire spectrum of things a human being can do with their time. No pressure!
Interactive video “gamifies” the process, placing the user at the center of the narrative – thereby distracting viewers from the big decision entirely. “I could go bowling, but I want to fill out this fun quiz”’. “I could watch a movie, but I want to play this sick accountancy-themed minigame”. “I could go spend time with my children, but I ALWAYS spend time with my children – I want to see what happens when I press the shiny button!”
When you feel like you have a direct impact on a video’s outcome, it increases your personal investment; and when people see one outcome, they’re often compelled to come back and see others. This racks up your view count, which can in turn have a direct effect on your company’s conversions and inbound leads.  
And for all this high-minded airy-fairy psychological stuff, it’s worth mentioning that, on a basic level, interactive video is fun. Everybody likes to have a good time – and more so if they feel like they’re in control of it!
Want to learn more about interactive video? Talk to our production team today