The Rise of Interactive Video

INFO: 01 Nov 2015 Insight

Interactive Video (IV) will become relevant to anyone creating or using online video.

IV is the next dimension to traditional linear video. Viewers can influence the content and narrative of a video using touch, gestures, voice or clicks. The viewer is presented with on-screen options at various junctures within the video and have the ability to shape their own experience. Forrester sums up the evolution of interactive video.

“Turning video from a lean-back to a lean-forward interactive experience redefines what is possible with the medium.”


The format has been successfully pioneered in music videos – one of the biggest success stories was Dylan’s Like A Rolling Stone in 2013 – but it’s gaining traction in branded entertainment, online shopping and other marketing communications. Check out these two examples, the first by Interlude for Subaru shows how interactive video can take over a narrative ad. 

This second piece by Ben Sherman shows how an online shop can be integrated seamlessly into video – what they’re calling ‘shoppable video’.

Why Content Creators are waking up to Interactive Video

IV is a customised experience where the user leads the way, meaning higher user engagement and satisfaction. At the same time advertisers are winning by gaining more actionable data based on more detailed user choices. This is a snowball effect of increasingly relevant and accurate communications from marketers to consumers. Data from recent campaigns by Rapt Media showed that, compared to linear video, viewers are more likely to re-watch an IV, more likely to click on it, and less likely to drop off (completion rates of 90%).

How do I create interactive videos?

There are a number of slick hosting and production platforms for creating IV, from free setups like Popcorn Maker to $1000 per project and hosting from It’s common for the big players to offer a full service from creative concept to aligning your website with their video player. These guys are doing everything they can to remove the barriers to adoption like costly site building and new production methods. Indeed, interactive video still demands much more from its creators than linear video. Anthony Mullen at Forrester advises:

“Treat interactive video as a microsite and use it across the whole customer life cycle. Interactive video can be a container for any media on the Web and, as a result, requires a more diverse team than the standard content marketing personnel.”

Why Isn’t Interactive Video Everywhere yet?

The share-ability and compatibility of IV platforms has been a focus of developers and the fact that YouTube and Vimeo do not offer these kinds of creation tools won’t be a problem for long. However, the cost of hosting and build on top of video production costs will be enough of a preventative for some. There are also some buffering issues on mobile for such a heavy bandwidth format. Finally, IV is a novelty at the moment, hence repeat views and high audience retention, but if every second video we come across online is interactive, that 90% retention rate could diminish quickly.

If these issues are resolved, IV offers undeniable opportunities for marketers to deliver more tailored and relevant content to their customers. The ability to interact with a mandatory pre-roll ad could drastically improve engagement.


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