According to recent studies, the average human attention span has decreased significantly since the dawning of the digital age, and, by some accounts, it continues to shrink. Which means that the need for video creators to quickly engage their viewers is greater now than ever before. This is a conundrum on the minds of agencies and creatives everywhere: in a world filled with endless, fast-paced ‘shorts’ and ‘stories’, how do you lock viewers into your video for longer than the time it takes them to scroll to the next one? Well, alongside ensuring that the content is eye-catching and engaging, you can also play around with the format of the video itself.
Enter interactive video, a new type of technology that does what it says on the tin – it allows viewers to interact with the video that’s being presented to them. Understanding that this was a crucial next step in allowing their creators to produce successful video-based content – the kind that can hold a viewer’s attention – the team at Vimeo has been hard at work building this into its current platform. As a result, there now exists an entire creation studio for users to take their videos to the next level. From integrated quizzes, to choose-your-own-adventure style formats, the opportunities for engagement and interaction are plentiful (Vimeo even released an “interactive video magazine” last year).
To discuss this development, as well as how the platform is helping its users prepare for a changing creative landscape, Vimeo recently held an event in London with various agencies in attendance. The event consisted of a panel discussion, hosted by It’s Nice That’s editor-in-chief Matt Alagiah, featuring directorial duo Fa & Fon Watkins, HLabs founder Han Springett, and Vimeo’s senior partner success manager Katie Halpern, as well as an interactive workshop, run by Vimeo’s senior sales engineer José Velasquez. The panel discussion was under the theme of ‘maintaining creative control’, while the workshop helped attendees to better understand how Vimeo’s various tools can facilitate this.
Speaking on HLabs’s use of interactive video, Han explained that her team found it particularly useful for layering on extra content. “For example, with the work we’re doing at the moment with some of our clients who want to show the behind-the-scenes of video production, it’s great,” she said. “So there might be a short, 15-minute documentary where we can add options for viewers to understand how the client got a certain shot, or were able to capture a specific bit of footage – it’s a bit like the end sequences of a David Attenborough programme.”
Fa & Fon said they have been getting an increasing number of requests to direct interactive videos across a broad range of outlets. “Our agency is getting a lot of briefs asking for interactive videos, with some being as long as an hour, and ranging from music videos to TV commercials,” they explained. “We’re not yet entirely sure how to approach these briefs, but clearly interactive is the new frontier.”
Following the panel discussion, José took to the stage to begin showing in real time how this technology can be implemented. Opening up the video creation studio, he took the audience through some of the essential tools that help users to transform their content, encouraging attendees to experiment with them on their own laptops. These tools include ‘hotspots’, which are “visible calls-to-action on your video” that trigger an action when tapped, and ‘time triggers’, which can “automatically display overlays or pause or loop the video while the viewer makes a choice in a branching video.” Both tools are customisable, allowing users to implement them into their video in a way that feels right, appearing at the correct time or attaching to the correct moving element.
These tools are also presented alongside other features in the video creation process that can help users enhance their product and maximise their time. Flexible sharing options, easy collaboration, in-depth analytics, and player branding capabilities are just some of the features that ensure working with Vimeo to build video content feels seamless and intuitive. For those interested in finding out how they can utilise these offerings in their own work, more information can be found on the Vimeo site, along with the chance to book a demo.
Wrapping up the event, Katie shared a final insight into the growing potential of interactive video: “With adult attention spans shorter today than they ever have been, it's no longer enough to just use video – your video has to be engaging and interesting to keep an audience watching. We've found interactive to be an incredibly effective way of achieving maximum engagement, with the format being 32 per cent more memorable than passive videos and increasing time spent watching by up to five times. It really is a no-brainer for any video professional looking to drive results."
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Photography by Stokely Howard (Copyright © Vimeo, 2023)