Why do brands and publishers insist on overlaying videos with hot spots and overlays? They’re a constant distraction and give interactive content a bad name.

There are two cardinal rules that most interactive video experiences break…

  1. Disrupting the main event: the video!

  2. Forcing viewers to engage and making them “work” while viewing

Let’s begin with #1 - keep the content pure!

How many times does a viewer really want to see a “plus sign” over a face?  Or endure a scavenger hunt they have to participate in? Really, how often do you click an annotation over the video you are watching? I’m willing to bet most viewers are exhausted after their initial experience.

Interactive experiences need to respect the video content. That’s why the viewer is there in the first place - to view the content!  Does anyone really believe that producers and directors create content with the hope that icons will be added on over top?  I think not.  Interactive elements should allow a user to interact at their own pace. If you force an experience, you will alienate them.

Cardinal rule #2 - it should never feel like work.

Interactivity should be initiated by the user, not forced or required. Interaction is a good thing.  It’s what we’re striving for.  But as an industry we have to have faith that quality content - and most importantly quality added content - will create the interaction and engagement we want.  Create, distribute, measure, repeat.  You’re not going to get there your first time out.

A common pitfall many interactive experiences fall into is succumbing to the “more screens = more engagement” trap. Just because you can use multiple screens doesn’t mean you should. The “sync” apps and “second screen” experiences offer some unique engagement opportunities, but at the end of the day require the user to take their eyes off the primary screen.  Check out all of the examples here and here.  Which ones do you remember?  Which ones were actually effective in achieving business objectives?  Tough to say, none of them share data from the campaign.

The goal should be less screens, not more. Technology is in place to bring the second screen experience into one. Remember - multitasking is a myth.  It applies to viewership just as much as it applies to texting while driving. (Please don’t text and drive.)

Fear not content creators, there are ways to avoid these major pitfalls.

  1. Make interactive content available without disrupting the actual video

  2. Share content that adds value to the experience, but is not necessary to it

  3. Ensure content is accessible at any point, at the discretion of the viewer

Yes, I’m passionate about maintaining the integrity of the content.  Follow some of the steps above and you’ll be less stressed about interactive video.