Interactivity in Video Ads

My last few columns discuss online video and how marketers use it in advertising. Many tools — some new, some more established but evolving — enable us not only to use video but also to add various interactive layers. Simply streaming video online isn’t good enough. It can work, but it doesn’t really capitalize on the Internet’s inherent benefits as a communication medium. Users can become infinitely more engaged when they can interact.

I’ve shared examples of ads that use video and interactivity, and I’ll have more to share next time. Today, a much more eclectic mix of examples. I’ve found some really interesting video executions, forward-thinking and unique. Not all are ads or marketing pieces, but all are inspiring.

What does it mean to add interactivity to video? Interactive video can mean any number of things. The examples below are some of the best I’ve seen and hopefully are only an indication of the future. Many are built in Flash. It’s great to see developers embracing the powerful technology in innovative ways.

Red Bull Copilot

Select “The Race” and watch the video. You can choose one of seven camera angles, plus play with various settings in four different audio tracks, including narration, music, and racing sounds. Very slick, but only a monster of a computer can play everything at once.

BMW 5 Series

Choose “Sedan” or “Touring,” then pick the video version. You get a powerful, beautiful, and relatively large video feed nicely overlaid with site navigation. The navigation leads to other video or still shots, as well as product info. The music is seamless, no matter the selection. Nicely done.

CBC Home Delivery

Many of these news packages offer well-done video segments. One is “Reaping An Untapped Money-Maker” in the September 15, 2003 installment. When the video starts, mouse over the “menu” text at the top. The navigation overlay elegantly and unobtrusively slides down to offer options for interacting with other pieces. A very simple interface that offers comprehensive navigation. You can jump directly to another story or back to the main menu. Some of it gets a little clunky, and the video did rebuffer on me a few times. I’m not sure I want to get my news this way. But in all, interesting and very impressive.

Re:Evolution

This appears to be Red Bull-sponsored extreme sports programming, both TV and online. The interface is a little funky. Click the “full size” button once the video starts playing. It’s a nice scale effect as the video grows in size to take over more of the page. You can also drag the slider next to the play button to move ahead (or back) in the video. A menu with deep links to each new segment within the video would be nice, but who am I to criticize?

What will the second and third generations of interactive video look like? As computer manufactures, marketers, and site developers learn to leverage video and animation to fuel navigation and the overall interface, we should see some very interesting executions emerge.

Ford F-150

This one’s a little creepy. Rick Titus, Drivers’ Talk radio host, walks on to the screen and talks to you about the pickup truck. I’ve seen this kind of thing done before, but this is one of the best executions. It’s used sparingly, rather than having the character drone on about various features. Titus comes in to emphasize a point or introduce a section.

The video’s not terribly interactive as far as its actual components but still an interesting use of video within the framework of a more traditional Web site.

Next, more great examples. Until then, drop me a line if you’ve got a good one to share.

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