3 Myths About Interactive Video and Mobile


In 2015, Land Rover unveiled “The Adventure Gene,” a sleek and expensive advertising campaign aimed at promoting its new Discovery Sport.

The campaign was striking. Filled with gritty, first-person shots, it immersed viewers in an interactive test for the “adventure gene.” As viewers progressed through the video, they chose solutions to a series of challenges—descending from a mountain peak via parasail, negotiating a street market filled with exotic delicacies—before they were awarded their odds for possessing the gene and got a first look at the Discovery Sport.

According to Little Black Book Celebrating Creativity, the sophisticated campaign was built entirely in HTML5. Why does that matter? HTML5 allows video to play on most mobile devices, depending on which browser is used. As such, the campaign was purported to provide an online experience that “work[ed] across all platforms and [was] augmented with 3D sound for a fuller experience.”

The problem was, the campaign didn’t, in fact, work with mobile. Mobile viewers were only able to see video highlights and a message directing them to visit the site on a desktop or tablet. (The team behind the site later added a “Not available for mobile” disclaimer under the “Take the test” button on the page.)

The otherwise impressive campaign is a learning moment for those considering interactive video campaigns—mobile is not just a “nice-to-have.”

Consider this: One in three Americans watches video on their mobile phones. In the case of Land Rover, therefore, it’s not a stretch to estimate that 30 percent of campaign viewers were directed to a desktop or tablet, increasing the risk of drop-off. As more and more Americans go mobile, it’s critical that marketers and interactive content creators understand what is and is not true of this platform and the content it hosts.

Myth # 1: Consumers don’t view long-form content, like interactive video, on their phones.

One of the most damaging misconceptions about mobile is that no one wants to use it for long-form content consumption. While long-form might have taken time to attract a mobile audience, it’s now firmly entrenched in the content lineup for viewers. A 2015 IAB survey of mobile video watchers found that one-third watch videos that are at least five minutes long every day.

And viewers have increasingly high expectations for their mobile videos. According to previously unreleased results from Rapt Media’s Power of Choice Survey, 55 percent of consumers said they expect videos to work seamlessly on their mobile phones. On top of that, 84 percent stated that they expect to be able to do the same things on a brand’s website from their mobile phone that they can do on a laptop. Clearly mobile is something every creative needs to take into account.

Myth # 2: Mobile users only want to engage with apps.

The proliferation of apps and the mobile sales they drive make it tempting to target marketing campaigns to the in-app experience only. But that would be a mistake. A 2015 study by Forrester, backed by RetailMeNot, found that most prefer using a store’s mobile website to an app when it came to nearly every part of the shopping experience.

Myth # 3: It’s not possible to play interactive video content in the browser on iPhone.

Although, as Land Rover learned, HTML5 video isn’t automatically mobile-ready, this doesn’t mean mobile is out for interactive video. In fact, Rapt Media has developed a patented technology to play back interactive video on the iPhone.

Of course, to capitalize on mobile video, your brand or agency will need to adjust for the environment. Your video must be able to load easily and play even in less-than-ideal conditions like spotty WiFi and across multiple browsers, devices, and platforms. It takes some work, but as made clear in Myth #1, there is a huge audience for your mobile offering.

The Bottom Line

Agencies and brands that decide to invest in interactive video must be mobile-savvy and fast. Video offerings not supported by mobile will fail to reach their potential in terms of viewership and engagement. And that means all of the other benefits that come with interactive—deeper engagement, better data, new insights—will never be fully realized. And that is something no brand or agency can afford.

Caleb Hanson is Vice President of Product for Rapt Media


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