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Interactive Video: What Small Businesses Need to Know

Interactive videos (IV) are the next generation of video marketing, putting the viewer in the driver seat. Letting their input define what content they see places the viewer in an active role, interacting with your content in a way that is more engaging. IV is a rapidly expanding area of digital marketing, with innovative types of videos being produced in many different sectors. Some key concepts include:

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Interactive videos (IV) are the next generation of video marketing, putting the viewer in the driver seat. Letting their input define what content they see places the viewer in an active role, interacting with your content in a way that is more engaging.

The Basics

IV is a rapidly expanding area of digital marketing, with innovative types of videos being produced in many different sectors.  Some key concepts include:


These are areas of the screen that link to relevant information such as a product or offer. Static links are straightforward to add to an existing video, and as well as making a video more interactive can provide useful data on the most popular aspects of your marketing message. Software such as Mozilla Popcorn allows you to insert links to smart data into videos. For example, clicking on a hotspot might show you  information on local cinema listings by pulling in data from another site.

Choose Your Own Adventure

In these videos the viewer is able to steer the course of the story by choosing the character’s actions. The complexity of this functionality can range from the viewer making a single choice to see a story end either happily or sadly, up to navigating a character successfully through a series of challenges in order to finally ‘win’. An IV with an aspect of challenge and reward is likely to be more popular than one without.

Customizable Content

Endlessly popular at Christmas time, viewers love to be able to insert images of themselves or family and friends into the action of a video. Depending on the complexity of the application, an IV may be able to pull in data from a viewer’s Facebook or Twitter accounts, such as their location or photographs, allowing for a more tailored experience.

Developing this kind of integrated IV is likely to be more expensive, but the added exposure can be well worth the investment. Viewers are highly likely to share their videos on social media, creating exponential exposure for your brand.


This is the most successful of IV formats. A well-designed, “sticky” game will give you repeat users and high sharing rates. Designed well, these videos are also capable of supplying a large volume of behavioral and social data about your viewers.

Game IVs often reward players for for completing levels, filling in data, forwarding or liking the game, encouraging higher levels of engagement.

A game created for the express purpose of promoting a product is known as an “advergame”. The most straightforward method is to insert adverts between levels, but this is not popular with audiences. When given the opportunity to ‘skip’ an ad, over 85 percent of viewers will do so. Using  products, logos and branding as an intrinsic part of the game experience is a more subtle yet effective technique.

Pulling It All Together

A single IV can include more than one of these elements. In fact, the more interactive the video is, the more successful it is likely to be. For example, a choose-your-own adventure format might allow you to customize your avatar, include ‘clues’ for the viewer to solve and offer a reward if they successfully navigate to the end of the game.


The cost of digital filming has dropped dramatically in recent years. There are many software packages that will allow you to create multiple interactive videos from a single investment. However, high quality audio, graphics and editing remain key to producing a good end product. Be realistic about how much you are capable of doing yourself, and consider hiring in professionals, especially for more complex IV projects.

If website development budgets are tight, consider contacting current students or recent film school graduates to help with this aspect of your online marketing.

Are IVs Worth the Investment?

Research would suggest that the answer is yes. Consumer studies have shown that internet shoppers are 64% more likely to make a purchase after watching a video. Interactive videos boost marketing results even further with interactive marketing campaigns performing up to twelve times more effectively than traditional marketing.


As with any marketing spend, you want to know what results are being achieved by your investment. Video analytics will allow you to measure the direct impact of your video, including views, click through rates, partial views and shares. Not only will measuring these metrics allow you to justify the time and budget spent on your IV, it will also provide feedback to help you design your next video.