Interactive Media: The Next Big Shit?

Photo by Charles Deluvio 🇵🇭🇨🇦 on Unsplash

Yes you guessed it right; the timing of the article clearly tells you that it was triggered after watching the latest episode of Black Mirror on Netflix, Bandersnatch (https://www.netflix.com/title/80988062). I can go on reviewing the episode but let’s just say that it is perfect, it has broken all the benchmarks and set a new one and it only makes me think that if this is now, I am certainly excited about what future will bring to us. Coming to the core of this article’s topic, Interactive Media, there is an interesting piece of information which you should know that will make you understand what follows, and in that way it will seem obvious. The best sort of media/content is the one that triggers all our five senses. This is also true for advertising, retailing, selling and a lot of other things. So touch, taste, visual appearance, smell and sound if triggered correctly and the more of them triggered correctly will be able to engage the audience more effectively. And that is what interactive media does. It increases engagement by triggering more of the senses by interacting with the subject/viewer. Now advertising has tried this a lot of times, and experiential marketing is built upon this very foundation; be it the ‘rub the paper and smell whiskey tours’ (triggering smell sense) in the Scottish Whiskey tours or ‘taste before you take’ (triggering taste sense) strategy of Baskin Robins outlets. Even game shows on TV offer some sort of interaction with the content as the viewer plays along with the players on tv in the game show (eg.: How to be a millionaire, Koffee with Karan rapid fire round). An ad on similar foundation that I remembered was the Coca Cola’s first ever drinkable advertising campaign (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IQovoot_ZUM ). Now a TV/Online commercial is something that you just see and hear, through this ad Coca Cola tried to also capture touch (even if not with the product but their phones) and taste (the eventual free sampling that happened). And that is why it struck a cord, while it may not be their best ad campaign it sure was revolutionary in its own way, and maybe it was not really the right time for interactive media to pick up. While there have been many content pieces that fall under the title, the category has not yet reached the critical mass it needs to explode and be everywhere. Until now! Bandersnatch has taken Interactive Media to next level and while the content as I said earlier is perfect, it is also the timing that is just right for this type of content to flourish. I spend more than 90% of my waking time in front of a digital screen, be it my phone, my work laptop or my smart TV. And I represent a target group that will consume more such content and hence help in making it a bigger chunk of the content pie. Bandersnatch hit the bulls eye when not only does it interact with the viewer by offering her to make a choice through touch and hence triggering one more sense but also in the process making her a part of the narrative. This together with the well-crafted plot and right engagement in the right context (the decision of choosing Netflix or analog while actually watching on Netflix) has made it a pivotal point in the journey of interactive media. Five years (it won’t take longer) from now when interactive media will be successfully discussed, Bandersnatch will always be seen as a turning point in its history. This type of concept can be successfully translated to create interactive ads for brands and at the same time collect more data about the consumer. We all know that companies like Google, Facebook and Amazon have so much data about us, our lives that they have a ghost profile like ours created in their system that helps them in customizing their services as per our likes/dislike and online behavior. Brands in similar ways can interact with the viewer on devices and do their marketing research without the viewer even realizing. An example would be an ad where a brand is selling clothing and asking viewers to make a decision between two colors/types/style. Advertising and data collection done at the same time. And there would be, in future, multiple more ways to monetize this concept of interactive media, which will fuel its journey further. Monetized or not- that is the thing of the future (and we don’t know what the future holds; ever thought you would watch something like Bandersnatch?) now is the right time for interactive media to spread its wings and fly on the high of Bandersnatch and make Bandersnatch the poster boy of interactive media. And all this when the full potential of the concept and tech is only minimally utilized.

PS: I wanted to name this article as Interactive Media: The New Reality? But it just seemed too subtle for an article describing something about Black Mirror.

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