How To Use Video To Better Engage Your Audience

Video, over most other media, really has the power to move people. Movies drive us to tears, elicit fear or become passionate about what we’re seeing on the screen. Advertisers have taken their cue from this technology to try and produce ads that engage the viewer and hopefully drive them to do more than simply click on the ad.

A well-crafted video message can greatly impact how the consumer moves through the purchasing funnel, especially if the video forces some type of interaction. An animated ad unit typically has an engagement level ten times the level of static one, and an interactive, personalized video ad has on average double the impact of a standard interactive ad. Yet, few advertisers have truly taken advantage of what video can do.

The Power of Interactive Video

As part of its promotion of the new “Alien: Covenant” film, 20th Century Fox created a video-on-demand trailer ad for the movie. Typically, this would be nothing more than what we’re used to seeing for movie promos: a trailer with the date the movie is to be released. The company, however, took the ad a step further. As part of the campaign, the ad uses personalization technology to tell the viewer – by name – to “run”.

Using customer data, the personalized video experience sought to better engage the audience by appealing directly to them by using their first name. With so many distractions, this was a way to immerse the viewer into the alien world and generate a distinctive experience.

Effective Use of Video in Ads

The best video ads aren’t passive. They engage the user with a combination of moving images and interactive opportunities. One of the most famous examples of interactive video was a Honda Civic ad from a few years back. The ad had two storylines, which the user can bounce between by pressing and holding the “R” button on the keyword. Honda created a dual story which shows a man who leads a double life involving the Honda Civic and the Civic Type R. The ad won a Gold Lion in the ‘Interactive Video’ category award at the Cannes festival in 2015.

Why Interactive Video Works

Most viewers have other distractions. While an ad is playing on the TV, they might be on their phones or iPads reading email, texting friends or simply browsing the Internet. Adding some interactive and/or personalized element can quickly submerge the viewer into the content and create an experience that is more likely to be remembered.

Yet, advertising continues to fall behind other types of interactive video like video games. Part of the problem is that the technology is so new. Many marketers are still trying to figure out how to effectively leverage the different elements. Another issue is simply lack of thinking through potential creative opportunities. Many of the interactive ads that are out there don’t truly engage the viewer. Simply requiring a viewer to “select their experience” a la Hulu ads isn’t enough. The viewer will either let the time to interact expire, or simply select an ad just to get through it.

Marketers must learn to make stories that strive for an emotional pull on the viewer. They must continue to experiment with the technology to find unique ways of reaching their targets. Obtaining video assets may be a hurdle for many marketers, yet it’s easier than ever to convert static images into interactive, animated content items.