Engaging and monetising audiences at scale with interactive experiences

By Peter Cassidy - Director of Global Entertainment

How we interact with content, products, and services has changed significantly in the last decade. Gone are the days where your audience could all be reached in the same place, at the same time, with the same messaging. Thanks to technology changing the way we live, work, and play, audiences are fragmented across channels, and brands compete for their attention across a vast digital space. 

For media brands, this can often mean that driving conversions is more complex than it once was. However you’re defining conversion— whether it’s subscriptions to your on-demand platform or merchandise sales— you now have to locate your audience and, crucially, offer them an experience worthy of their time and attention. The more you’re able to do this, the more likely it is that they’ll return to you time and again, and ultimately deliver more value as a customer.

That’s not an easy task, but the good news is that as the amount of competition for audience attention has grown, so too has the appetite for exciting and engaging content. Audiences have become more demanding and more discerning. They’re often actively on the lookout for entertainment, whether on social media, your website, your app, or via live events. 

To capitalise on this increased demand for content, you’ll need to start with the following three things:

  • Be there. It may sound obvious, but you need to be everywhere your audiences are. If they’re ready and willing to engage with your content across web, apps, and live events, then you need to be prepared and waiting for them when they come. The more opportunities you create for them to connect with you, the more you maximise your chances to convert them from passive viewers into active customers.
  • Be interesting. It’s not enough to set up your site or app and call it a day. The more often you can get your audience to return to you, the greater the chances of conversion, and that means you need to be creating new content and interactive experiences all the time. Don’t let your audience feel as though they’ve ever ‘completed’ their experience with you. They should always have a good reason to come back for more.

  • Be consistent. Audiences expect a sophisticated and seamless experience across all channels. Think about their journey with your brand and how you can add value in every touchpoint. Connecting all these dots in an omnichannel strategy where information is shared across all channels will allow you to deliver a cohesive and consistent experience to your audience regardless of the channel they use to engage. 

So, where do you start? There are a wealth of possibilities when it comes to which interactive experiences to create. As tempting as it might be to try everything at once, the best starting point is to identify goals.

In this article, we’ll help you consider applying digital interactive experiences according to the results you aim to deliver. Whether you’re looking to build engagement figures, gather first-party data, provide a seamless omnichannel experience, or get your audience to the point of conversion faster, there is an interactive experience that will help you get there. 

 

Use interactive experiences to increase engagement and first-party data

 

Two of the significant business goals to which interactive experiences lend themselves are increasing engagement and driving first-party data capture. The two often go hand in hand - as more of your audience members actively engage with your digital experiences, so you gather more data on how they interact with your digital properties. Here we have narrowed down a list of the best-performing interactive experiences to help you achieve these goals. 

 

1 - Event Centre Experience

Interactive experiences aren’t confined solely to the digital world. If you’re running real-world events, digital experiences are the perfect way to engage fans before, during, and after an event, and bring the excitement to those who aren’t able to be there in person. 

British motorsport mainstay Goodwood exemplified this approach for their SpeedWeek 2020 event. Combining live streaming with gamification made audiences at home feel part of the action. Those gamification mechanics rewarded engagement and resulted in a highly successful interactive experience. They also drove sign-ups from users eager to get in on the action and generated valuable data that brands can use to power future digital strategies. 

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Event Centres are a great way to maximise value for both your brand and your sponsors. By engaging a captive audience not only for the duration of the event, but in the build-up and the days and weeks afterwards, you extend the lifespan of your event, creating more opportunities for conversion and more visibility for your sponsors.

 

2 - Interactive Video Experience

Adding a layer of interactivity to video content - whether long or short-form, pre-existing or created from scratch, gives that content a new and unique lease of life. It differentiates your video in a world where competition for attention is fierce. Here are some examples of experiences that use interactive video:

 

  • Play-Along

Bringing layers of gamification into your video content is a great way to add value without incurring extra production costs. Delve into your archives and let fans play-along by answering ‘what happened next?’, transforming them from spectators to engaged participants.

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  • Shoppable Video

If your conversion goal is to drive purchases, what better way to go about it than allowing video viewers to buy what they’re looking at, right there and then, without having to interrupt their viewing experience? That’s what ITV achieved by using shoppable video within their Love Island app, combining audience engagement with calls to action to create a seamless purchase experience.

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3 - Interactive Live streaming

Live events always generate a buzz among audiences, which can be hugely increased by making your livestream an interactive experience. Wherever your fans are, interactive live streaming allows them to be part of the moment, experiencing and connecting to it on a level that viewership alone simply can’t compete with.

  • Live Quiz

    Live Video Quizzes are perfect when it comes to fostering engagement among your audience, and they’re also ideal for collecting first-party data. As long as you pitch the quiz correctly for your audience, they’ll be willing to fill out the information you’re asking for as part of the sign-up process, enabling you to personalise your offering better and retarget them in future.


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  • Live Commerce

This interactive experience is a great way to boost revenues, transforming your website and app into a video shopping channel. It’s a trend born in China, but we already see it find its feet in the West as more brands leverage interaction to drive sales organically. The UK mobile network Three has proven the effectiveness of this strategy with its Three Live daily livestream, showcasing products and answering customer queries in real-time.

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  • Live Entertainment

These experiences engage fans by letting them control the content of your livestream. A presenter, brand ambassador or famous face leads the stream, interacting directly with audience members by answering questions or posting and responding to polls. These interactive events maximise engagement value by allowing audiences to influence what they’re watching while still leaving full editorial and moderator control to the brand team. 

 

4 - Voting Experience

Digital interactive experiences work best when they connect with your primary content offering. Take voting experiences, where your audience can influence what happens at an event or within a show. Engaging an audience in this way, allowing them to directly affect a result— to crown a reality show winner, for example— is immensely powerful and drives fans to your platforms in droves to participate.

Understandably, many media brands hold reservations about handing over such large-scale influence to their audience. With the security and integrity of the vote at the forefront of concerns, an interactive voting experience must handle significant numbers of concurrent users and ensure the vote’s integrity at all times. 

Nickelodeon’s annual Kids’ Choice Awards rely on a secure voting experience to support the 33 million votes cast on the platform in the lead-up to their live event. Kids vote for their favourite shows and stars across multiple categories, and the winners are crowned (and slimed!) live on air. 

 

5 - TV Show Apps

When it comes to the shows your audiences love, offering them extra content is a great way to encourage them to spend time on your digital platforms. TV Show Apps take this one step further, going beyond the image and video-based approach of social media platforms to bring true interactivity to the audience. Fans are offered sneak peeks of exclusive content and the chance to answer polls or cast votes directly impacting the show itself. 

TV Show Apps are a powerful tool for increasing engagement. Where you once might have had a viewer’s attention for the length of your broadcast, you now have the opportunity to reach them outside of that time, whether that’s in the days between shows or the months leading up to your next season. 

ITV’s Show Apps have repeatedly proven the power of this experience, with viewers of their most prominent entertainment properties, from Love Island to I’m A Celebrity, returning to the apps throughout the series and beyond to take part in polls, quizzes, and votes. With engagement figures on the most popular elements stretching into the millions, and countless opportunities to drive sponsorship messaging and first-party data capture, it’s easy to see why they’ve become a core part of ITV’s digital strategy.

 

Aligning Interactive Experiences with your digital strategy 

 

Direct-to-consumer brands will be well aware of how important it is to maintain a cohesive presence across all the channels where your audiences spend their time, from your TV show to your website. Audiences expect an omnichannel experience across all these platforms, where the data they’ve previously shared with you is used to make their journey from one to another as seamless and personalised as possible.

Incorporating interactive experiences across your digital channels can help when it comes to getting hold of the end-user, first-party data you need for personalisation. It might be as simple as asking the user’s name before they start a quiz, or as subtle as recognising that the under-25 segment of your audience prefers to take part in polls than read articles. You can feed all the data gathered via your interactive experiences back into your CRM system to help build valuable insights on your customers and inform your future digital strategies. 

But making interactivity a  cornerstone of your digital strategy can be a daunting, as well as exciting, prospect - especially if you have a digital team who are resistant to the idea of bringing in a brand new piece of technology on top of their existing workload.

The good news is, digital interactivity doesn’t necessarily mean more complicated systems, lengthy implementation periods or tripling the length of your team’s ‘to-do’ list!

A real-time engagement platform can be a core part of your digital strategy, helping you deliver quick, easy to implement, and powerful interactive experiences for massive audiences. 

Monterosa / Interaction Cloud contains a collection of ready-to-go interactive experiences that can be tailored to your brand without requiring any custom build time.  Your teams can hit the ground running and let their creative juices flow. It’s secure and straightforward to integrate with your existing CRM systems and allows you to harness the power of all that valuable data you’ve acquired. We built the Interaction Cloud to withstand huge numbers of concurrent users without suffering any drop in quality, so there’s no need to worry when that poll gets popular!

If you’re feeling inspired, check out our Interactive Playbook articles, packed with information and ideas on building interactive experiences that can bring you a step closer to reaching your business goals.