Whether you follow popular culture or not, Netflix’s latest interactive Black Mirror episode has got marketers and consumers all over the world talking. But what does this new technology mean for branded content?
This isn’t the first move toward interactive content. Black Mirror may have caught everyone’s attention, but brands and entertainment suppliers have been creating interactive films for a while. To delve a little further, here are three examples of some interesting interactive content from the past couple of years and some lessons brands can learn from their efforts.
EKO: That Moment When
Over a year ago, interactive digital media studio EKO teamed up with Sony Pictures Entertainment and Olive Bridge Entertainment for a new comedy series entitled That Moment When, which follows lovable protagonist, Jill, as she navigates her way through awkward situations.
Create relatable content
People will always engage more if it’s about something they know or want to know more about. While Black Mirror delved into the darker side of technology, EKO takes on the everyday, awkward situations that everyone has experienced at some point in their life, enabling their audience to explore the mayhem of a familiar world.
Don’t ask for too much commitment from your audience
One of the issues people had with Black Mirror’s episode is that it often took 90 minutes of viewing to find out if they had made the right decisions. And let’s face it: With 10 possible outcomes being marketed across the internet, it’s inevitable that the audience will be left feeling a little dissatisfied because they have only seen 10 percent of the overall experience, one which is full of repetitions and do-overs. EKO’s project, on the other hand, cut its content into seven 8- to 12-minute episodes, creating an experience that is fun, short and, most importantly, something viewers could delve in and out of with ease.
Deloitte: Will You Fit Into Deloitte
Deloitte New Zealand partnered with digital video agency Snorkel to create an interactive recruitment video that enables viewers to walk in the shoes of a new Deloitte employee and decide their course of action.
Have a clear purpose
Having a clear purpose is important with any piece of content, but it’s particularly essential when it comes to interactive videos. Audiences need to know from the beginning why they should spend time going on this journey. This is where Deloitte’s film excels. From the start of the video, viewers are immediately immersed into real-life situations that they may encounter and made to consider how they would react, giving future employees an opportunity to see whether they share the same values and could really be a part of Deloitte’s company culture.
Tell a story
Don’t just make content for content’s sake. Tell a story that will really take your viewers on a journey. In varying capacities, both Black Mirror and Deloitte’s films use believable characters to explore the conflicts and tensions, twists and turns, good and bad outcomes of their tales, ensuring their viewers go on either an entertaining or informative adventure.
Maybelline New York: Product tutorial
Partnering with fashion blogger Kelly Framel of The Glamourai, Maybelline New York created a step-by-step interactive tutorial of four different looks around a single core product: their new Big Eyes mascara.
Don’t shy away from innovation
The makeup industry has been revolutionized by online video tutorials. Even though Maybelline New York’s video isn’t ground-breaking, they stepped outside of the box by adding an interactive element, allowing their viewers to navigate through different styles with ease.
Embrace the niche audience
Interactive films are not to everyone’s taste, but in certain instances like Black Mirror and Maybelline New York, they appeal to a specific kind of viewer, one who is much more receptive and willing to engage.
This won’t be the last we see of interactive video. Even though companies have been creating interactive videos for years, it is still a relatively new territory for branded content. Brands are still figuring out if they need it, how they should use it and considering the best way to implement it without losing the viewer’s attention halfway through. After all, interactive content requires a lot of effort from the audience in order to succeed, something that is difficult to acquire in today’s overcrowded content market.
So, what’s the point?
Gaming culture and personalization has without a doubt infiltrated the marketing world over the past couple of years, with more brands attempting to create content that puts the viewer in the driver’s seat. The rise of interactive storytelling is a new way for brands to not only encourage interaction and engagement but to also deepen the relationship with their audience and create a more meaningful brand/consumer experience.
However, as shown with “Bandersnatch,” there has to be a story worth telling when tackling interactive content, as well as the creativity and the budget to put it into action. Brands need to really consider whether this is a move that will truly benefit their strategy and realize their big-picture objectives and whether they are prepared to fully invest in this new area of video marketing that is still relatively unknown and—as of yet—has not achieved any great success in the content marketing sphere.