At the BBC, we’ve done a lot of work over the past couple of years to enhance our web stories with embedded video. The depth and richness of BBC News material makes it one of the key differentiators between us and other news providers.
Now video tech company Veeple is turning the notion of adding video to text on its head by making video the starting point for storytelling and supplementing in-picture images with interactive text and links.
Hotspots on the screen are made clickable so deeper layers of information can be reached. They can be overlaid on objects, or people, or they can be appended to areas at the top or bottom of the screen.
It’s easy to imagine product placement companies adding layers to programmes to allow viewers to find out about, or purchase, things as they appear on screen.
It’s equally possible that future storylines or whole shows might be adapted to take account of the revenue-earning potential of product lines like clothes, for instance.
Beyond commercial applications, there is also the possibility of driving deeper engagement with factual or news programmes.
Some of you may remember that a few years ago we ran trials of an Interactive 10 O’Clock news using “red button” digital services to add extra information to selected top stories.
Bandwidth constraints and the inherent limitations of digital text display made it an interesting if ultimately failed experiment.
iPTV now offers the chance to make a far richer, more engaging experience.
At its most basic level, it could involve adding extra explainers around terms commonly used though, perhaps, rarely understood, in Parliamentary reports, such as White Papers, Three-Line Whips and Early Day Motions.
The more technical language of business might also benefit from notes in the margin with options to toggle on or off as packages play-out, triggered by keywords in the audio track, or shown on a timeline.
Appending archive material, user generated content, a wider range of analysis and expert comment, additional images, maps, PDFs, and original documents are further possibilities.
As ever, the emerging options open up many new questions: Do people really want these extra layers? Does it make for a disjointed experience? Are we video-led or text led? Do we have to be both in which case what kind of content is it best-suited to serve? How can we keep a coherent thread to our storytelling? How much information is too much – when does it become overwhelming? What’s the overhead to all this extra packaging and who would do it?
Veeple’s CEO Scott Broomfield says the software is easy to use and “if you have ever put an image or an icon into a Powerpoint presentation…you know how to make your videos interactive.”
Jump to the 4’ 26” point in this video to see it in action.
The company has mobile versions of the software running on Android devices and it is working on alternatives for the iPhone and iPad.
Broomfield claims user click-through rates from interactive video are up to 10 times higher. And their software comes with a range of tools to measure engagement metrics.
With Google TV launching in the autumn in the US, and Apple’s renewed interest in Apple TV, innovations in this space are starting to gather pace.