New Storytelling Dimensions: HBO Imagine Raises Bar for Seven Echo & New Advertainment Models

Why is it that online video, while at least 3 years old, offers very little beyond traditional video that happens to be shorter and amateur driven? Certainly the lack of scripting gives us the sense we’re invited guests in the creator’s home, and we develop para social relationships because we can interact with them.

However very little, with the exception of “choose your own ending” has taken full advantage of the medium… until HBO Imagination.

Somebody call 911. Shawty's fire burnin' on the museum floor.
Somebody call 911. Shawty's fire burnin' on the museum floor.

While the site is slow, complex, and confusing, I give it 5 stars for pushing the medium to new levels. I’m at the beginning of my own journey, and I have a lot more to “unlock.” But I was impressed that I could watch an art heist from four different angles… trying desperately to be in the right place at the right time. If you’re inclined to wait for the slow startup time, please comment with what you thought was impressive (or not).

I’ve seen the criticism that it’s a one-trick pony; that I’m not likely to return. But that’s because it occurs on an island instead of embedded into places online where I spend time. Like YouTube (although it was a YouTube ad that finally took me there, after hearing about it several times).

As online-video gives storytellers new devices to allow the audience to explore various paths, the traditional online-advertising executions have some “catching up” to do. They need to explore storytelling and engagement like HBO Imagine, and not rely on typical “awareness to interest to conversion to purchase.”

Seven Echo

SevenEcho is one such company. I’ve had the opportunity to spend time with founder and CEO David J. Russek through a mutual friend, and his vision is unsurpassed in helping entertainers and large advertisers weave mutually beneficial programs. The viewer can receive a customized ad based on product preference, and advertisers can embed their images in a show… then Seven Echo can swap them for another advertiser seamlessly. We meet at the home of Oscar Hammerstein and discuss our vision for this medium in the years ahead, and we both learn (although I learn more).

Ultimately, however, the distribution partners need to recognize the value to their audiences and sponsors. Many of these devices are not allowed on the #1 online-video sharing site, which is still relying on revenue from InVideo ads, banners, and homepage takeovers.

Imagine for a moment an entertainment experience customized to your region or story-telling preferences. Like a sexy blond as your hero? We’ll drop that in. Want happy endings only? Set that preference. Suddenly one story (albeit with lots of “branches”) is your personalized experience, and it’s ad supported because the ads are seamlessly integrated into the story.

This is the kind of initiative that should excite hungry entertainment companies and progressive advertising agencies with a desire to push the creative envelope and give their clients engaging rich-media experiences… instead of a traditional media insertion.

11 Replies to “New Storytelling Dimensions: HBO Imagine Raises Bar for Seven Echo & New Advertainment Models”

  1. I have mixed feelings about personalized experiences. On the one hand, it’s a pretty cool and interesting idea and certainly has potential as a new form of media.

    On the other hand, I wold feel like I’m missing something if I didn’t see all the possible branches and endings. It would also make it strange to discuss with others.
    “Dude! Did you see ____ last night? It was, like, totally awesome man!”
    “Yeah man, but it, like, totally sucked dude. I hated the part where……”
    “WTF are you talking about man? That never happened!”
    “Woah…like, what version were you watching dude?”
    And then the mildly retarded (at best, semi-literate) frat boys spend the next hour trying figure out who saw what and if they missed any scenes containing cleavage (or better).

    I have similar issues if I play RPG games. I have to beat them several times just so I would know what would’ve happened if I chose to do the other thing.

    You say you were desperately trying to be in the right place at the right time. It sounds frustrating (and tiring) to be continually trying to make sure you are getting the optimal viewing experience.

    Unfortunately I don’t have much time to waste this week on slow loading, confusing sites, so I can’t really speak from experience.

  2. I had this “Choose Your Own Adventure” book in 1990 as a six-year-old. It was a Legend of Zelda one. It was a lot like this.

    Except it was Legend of Zelda, so it was worth it.

  3. 8% of internet users account for 85% of all display ad clicks. Some asshole somewhere is clicking his ass off all day long like some sort of demented Twitterholic. He must not have a job.

  4. Heh – you’re missing the point of @8 – it’s actually the first paragraph of a “choose your own adventure” story … let’s see – I’m going for the following:

    Lidana – glad to hear from you. I’m only 19 myself and currently attend Columbia University. My father is a bank executive at a large bank here in New York City and has advised me to be cautious with transactions of this nature … for a small fee startup fee and your assurance of a future equity position I can create a LLC here that can receive funds directly. Should you be interested in attending Columbia, if you forward me a completed application I can discuss the matter with my advisor … for the right price, almost anyone can attend Columbia. Please write back!
    =Gneen (please forgive the alias, I am a cautious one)

  5. @10
    Thanks for your email. i am berry berry excited to have your intrest in this reletionship and i pray that God almighty will see us through to our inevetable conkusion, Gneen.

    Do not be suprised how i got your contact b/c it is through divine directions. My late father have alredy warned me as a Catholic at his last hour breath b/4 he gave up to death that i should always pray b/4 contacting any foreign partner. He claimed that friends, reletives and well wishers have betrayed him a couple of times in the past which have resulted to circumstance that led to his untimely death, so i was warned that i should not gamble with this great legacy.

    Please i would like you to promise me that i am save in your arms. i am a young woman and i do not know the right direction to follow in this financial transaction apart from the fact that this transaction have already been handed over to my fathers lawyer, who shall be dealing with you as always as you would want BUT please do not ever hesitate to get back to me whatever he discusses with you.

  6. @9
    See, Gneen, ya get no takers on a choose your own adventure story here if its in words. Lotta folks here is not too keen on words. Pictures, Yes. Words, no.

    Kinda like my family. They like Wheel of Fortune. Like it fine. But that stuff on PBS just makes their head lice active. Me? I like words. Like these I wrote about my sister entitled, “Nothin’ But The Best Fer My Tormentor” :

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