Interactive Content Marketing Lessons from Major TV Franchises

March 18, 2015 | by Chris Frascella

Interacting content marketing is sometimes done best by television giants.By this point, many of us have been exposed to interactive content in one form or another – interactive maps, advertising that allows us to make choices that seem to have an impact on the ad, quizzes like “What [relevant pop culture reference] are you?” or “How much of a [relevant social affiliation, e.g. New Yorker, law student, etc] are you?”, and even government services presented in a meaningfully interactive format are now readily discoverable content on the internet. Some of it is meant to inform, some of it is meant to entertain, as with any good source of content.

But what about award-nominated interactive content marketing from the likes of AMC and HBO? And how can you learn from their Emmy-nominated successes to improve your own content marketing efforts?

And the Emmy Goes To…

The Emmys recently included a fascinating category: Outstanding Interactive Program.” This title is a little bit of a misnomer, as some of the accepted nominees (@midnight for instance) don’t necessarily offer an interactive experience, but rather solicit input from the audience and post the most interesting responses during their program. However, some do offer genuinely interactive experiences, to lesser or greater degrees. Read on for three examples you can learn from.

The Voice: On Stage app is basically a mobile game branded to resemble The Voice TV show. Like Angry Birds Star Wars promotes Star Wars by incorporating Star Wars branding into a gaming experience, this content (the Voice App) reminds its users of the product (The Voice TV show) it is meant to promote through the medium of a mobile game. Key feature: Strengthening brand/awareness.

AMC’s StorySYNC (warning: StorySYNCs contain spoilers!) for The Walking Dead (and more recently than the 2013 Emmys, for Better Call Saul) represent a different type of interactive content. What makes AMC’s StorySYNCs interactive is the way it shows you, after you engage with it by making a choice, what respective percentages of other users selected each of the choice options. For instance:

Better Call Saul here is an example of interactive content marketing.

(enjoy the full StorySYNC here) Key feature: Rewarding engagement, possibly even educating the user.

The interactive technique used by AMC here is an essential component of Telltale Games’ repertoire, a video game company which has earned a “significant investment” from Lionsgate to bring their technology to TV/streaming audiences. I wouldn’t be surprised if this becomes a bigger part of “standard” interactive content marketing in the future.

The immensely popular HBO show Game of Thrones also has an app that contended for Outstanding Interactive Program. This app is more like a library of DVD-style bonus features, about the characters, costumes, setting, etc. What makes this an interactive experience is that the user can navigate among options and choose what to view. Just like an interactive map takes an otherwise dense, “flat” piece of content and gives it space and depth, the navigation of which constitutes interactivity, this library of content is at the user’s fingertips, but ultimately it is they who choose which “books” to take “off the shelf.” You could argue HubSpot’s case study library is interactive content for the same reason. Key feature: Poor man’s version of personalizing content (or rich man’s way to inform future personalized content by tracking engagement).

Whether or not your content is associated with high-production media franchises like The Voice, The Walking Dead and Game of Thrones, making it interactive can help you with:
• Strengthening brand/awareness
• Rewarding engagement (possibly even educating the user)
• Personalizing content

You can read more about the actual effectiveness of interactive content marketing here.

These are actionable marketing examples whether or not you are producing marketing content for television. Read on to learn how.

Interactive Content Outside of the Context of Television

There are several options for how you might go about creating interactive content, without significant investments of dollars, time or in-house expertise, such as ROI calculators and other decisionaires.

Interactive content comes down to providing meaningful choices to your prospects (or “users” or “site visitors,” or however you prefer to think about your target audience). A choice is meaningful if it expresses priority and precludes other options – providing the same content regardless of choice is not interactive and will create a negative impression in the prospect’s mind (along the lines of: “it doesn’t matter what I tell them my needs are, they are going to respond with the same answer/pitch”).

Contact the Decisionaire team for more information about how you can create content that better engages prospects by providing meaningful choices, that helps strengthen your brand, and that can even help educate your target audience.