Author: Steve Callanan, CEO, WIREWAX

For a long time we've talked about where the future of connected video could go, how far could all this possibly take us and what does that look like?

WIREWAX is famed for some of the ground-breaking and elegant interactive/shoppable videos it's helped deliver. Recent campaigns for Ted Baker, PlayStation and Dulux have been nominated for awards, garnered kudos and press from some of the most revered industry leaders and been acknowledged the world over as exceptional examples of how interactive videos should be. However, these are one-offs, short-lived, flagship projects that perform very well for a particular marketing campaign or seasonal ad; so why can't this be applied to everyday content; the less 'premium', big-budget masterpieces but the video content that fills our lives in the form of entertainment, news and education?

Why can't it all be connected.

We're working with the world's biggest publishers and news outlets to add WIREWAX functionality across broader video channels, so watch this space. However, there is one sector that's always been fascinated by the possibilities with WIREWAX and one that has the most to gain from enriching video content this way. Broadcasters still hold the reins when it comes to delivering the vast majority of video we consume each day and it makes the most sense that this largely analogue medium be brought into the 21st century.

Broadcast video content is a rich mix of entertainment, news and a resource for learning and exploring so, allowing viewers to interact with content to discover more, learn about those people in-vision, see different camera angles or even purchase products on impulse is becoming a reality. WIREWAX has long had relationships with some of the biggest broadcasters in the world, from the several projects with the BBC, the early prototypes with Fox Network, the world's first shoppable TV show with Turner to all the interactive trailers for NBCU group.


The BBC were one of the first adopters of WIREWAX connected video.

With the help of IP Germany, it was Europe's biggest commercial broadcaster, RTL that has taken that leap first. This week they began running tests to allow viewers to interact and shop products that have been placed in shows by sponsor partners. RTL and WIREWAX partnered to integrate the WIREWAX functionality into their existing VOD player, an investment that is quickly starting to pay off. Now any TV show watched through the RTL Now service can now have interactive tags added to any person or object in minutes, allowing audiences to interact instantly.


A visual prompt encourages viewers to interact.

RTL ran a test with German Idol dropping in WIREWAX tags on a scene featuring nail polish from show sponsor, Edding. Viewers were told about the experience moments before the scene with a graphical message informing them what was coming their way. Seconds later the nail polish in the scene had WIREWAX tags, motion-tracking products allowing the audience to lean-forward and buy the LAQUE range from Edding from the product overlay that appears.


In-video product card.

A first for RTL and Edding, Sales Director at IP Germany, Lars-Eric Mann said, "This year has no limits to this special form of advertising. With interactive product placement like this with Edding, it's clear what is possible in online advertising. And for Edding as a first mover with this form of advertising is it again a gain for their public image. The interactive product placement provides the user a real added value and encourages interaction with the audience".

Cornelia Steinborn, Business Development Manager at Edding said, "Edding LAQUE is aimed at an audience that is web-savvy. It is the ideal solution for us to reach them in American and German Idol and the provide the opportunity for them to buy directly from the show".

Of course, questions are already being asked - is this type of interactive experience right for the consumption of narrative TV content? Longform viewing is an escapist experience set for a very different mindset, brute forcing an interactive experience, or, gasp... a shopping experience with overt calls-to-buy, might feel awkward. That may be true, but a recent WIREWAX survey showed that 96% of respondents would like the ability to shop while watching TV - seeing something they want and being able to buy it, right there, right then. So there's no denying there is appetite for this. The issue is, it feels a very different experience to the more antiquated consumption of TV which has always only ever been a lean-back, passive experience. Yes, audiences are becoming more adept at interacting with video on web and on mobile, but the messaging, the signposting, the education of audiences that they are about to enter an interactive/shoppable viewing experience is still essential to break that passive habit. For that reason it needs to be bold and loud until we're all accustomed to it.

That may be seen as aggressive and possibly irritating to those who don't wish to interact but eventually just knowing that anything and everything in the video stream is potentially an interaction point will diminish the need for visual prompts and will become the norm. This is coming, and soon it'll be everywhere, then the irritation will switch from being told to interact to discovering a video isn't interactive when you want it to be.

Screen Capture of the user experience