Here’s a quick math problem: if online advertising began in 1993 and there are over 1 billion websites today, how many online advertisements (an industry that in fifteen years hadn’t innovated past blinking banner ads) are floating around click-less, user-less, and money-less? The answer, a lot.
Luckily 2012 arrived, and with it a refreshing alternative to ordinary advertising straightforwardly dubbed interactive content. It includes: those addicting personality quizzes that rightfully guessed you’re such a Khalessi, polls about random things you couldn’t care less about but still are curious enough to click on anyway, community-ranked listicles of the cutest cat videos this year, and, well, you get the idea. It’s designed to pull you in, grab your attention, and keep you on the site long enough that you’ll purchase something.
Truly, interactive content is a win-win-win for publishers, brands, and users. Let’s see why:
Here’s Why It Matters
It shouldn’t be surprising that something interactive (which is literally a synonym for engaging) is more promising than something static, especially when it comes to brand and publisher marketing. In offering enhanced user experiences, an option for high shareability, and more relevant metrics, interactive content is positioned to overtake static advertisements as the main form of monetization for brands and publishers.
A Better User Experience
If users had it their way, they’d get rid of advertisements and content monetization practices all together. (In fact, they nearly have. I’m looking at you, AdBlock.) But, if brands and publishers listened to users’ concerns — that advertising practices have gotten out of hand — they’d recognize that something has got to change: user experience.
And, interactive content solves just that. It’s entertaining, enjoyable, engaging, and most importantly, subtle. This means users are less likely to shut their browser in annoyance and more likely to continue clicking through the site.
Today, publishers and brands want one thing: to go viral. It’s simple, more shares, more money. Interactive content has just the right characteristics for increased shareability, it’s amusing, enticing, click-worthy, unique, and designed with the user in mind. It’s much easier for interactive content to get massive shares because it reaches into the fundamental reason people share things in the first place: It captivates them.
Think about show-and-tell from your childhood: would you be more likely to bring in a print magazine advertisement to class or your new Nintendo GameBoy?
More Relevant Metrics
Sure, static advertisements provide brands and publishers with great insights like click-through rates, bounce rates, page views, unique visitors etc. But interactive content as a form of advertising offers all this plus comments, shares, likes, and completion rates. This way, marketers can better pinpoint and understand how and why their interactive content is either succeeding or failing. If, for example, click-through rates on an advertisement are low but there is no indication as to why, how is a brand or publisher going to learn for next time? In adding a social element, the additional metrics that come with interactive content enables the marketer to tweak their content for improvement in the future.
Let’s Get Interactive
Of course, editorial content as a form of online advertising is nothing new — but that’s just the problem. The digital media world moves fast, after all. If marketers want to keep up with the trends and hold onto the attention of their consumers, they need to constantly innovate their marketing and advertising techniques.
Here are three tips to keep in mind before creating your first piece of interactive content.
1. Outline Your Objectives
First, like before any marketing campaign, it’s essential to outline your objectives and goals.
For example, are you content to build brand awareness, increase conversions, educate potential consumers, or purely entertain? Is it more important that your interactive content receive a higher engagement rate or a longer play time? Who is your target audience — women from New York consuming content on their iPads or teenage boys living on the West Coast with fingers glued to their smartphones?
Finally, you need to think about where you’ll distribute it: on your website, on social channels, or on a third-party site. If you plan to distribute the interactive content via social channels, then virality is the most important. If you intend to feature it on your website, then the interactive options should discourage users from being led to external sites.
Now that you’ve outlined your objectives and goals, it’ll be easier to keep your interactive content concise and focused. Today, our attention spans are so short that saying an article is too long to read really isn’t an insult anymore. It’s important to keep your interactive content super targeted, never straying from what the title copy promises.
But, by creating interactive content such as polls, quizzes, and video quizzes, content not only stays hyper-focused, quick, and to the point, but it also gives the viewer complete power to take control of their experience. Thus, marketers can be sure that their audience — short attention span and all — is fully engaged throughout.
Here, for instance, Nutella and the Food Network partnered to create an Apester poll — this way, users are engaged and more likely to read through, enjoy, and absorb the rest of the content. The poll received nearly 17,000 engagements with a double-digit click-through-rate and increased time-on-site.
3. A Strong Call To Action
If a video plays but it lacks a clear call-to-action, did it make an impact? Obviously not.
In any good blog post or landing page, the text will encourage page visitors to take some sort of action, like download a white paper or sign up for a free trial. Well, successful interactive content is no different — it must feature a strong CTA to achieve the goals and objectives you previously outlined.
Remember, CTAs can be strategically placed during any point, not just at the end. This is the great thing about interactive content, you can manipulate it to build tension and place the CTAs accordingly.
For example, here, the content creator used Mapme to create a story by combining maps with images, videos, and text. In a story outlining the best vegetarian restaurants in Berlin, the content creator set custom CTAs to ensure maximum conversion.