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.
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.”
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.