An Adotas Q&A with Antonio Bolfo, co-founder of Verse, explores the expanding influence and power of interactive video.
A: Even in our beta year (we just launched in July) some of the biggest media and consumer brands in the world have used Verse’s platform to tell a variety of stories in different and surprising ways. A few examples:
* The North Face used Verse turn an expedition to the top of Mount Everest into a deeply-engaging adventure with viewers guiding the presentation.
* Grey Advertising used us to help their client, The National Park Service, bring their Centennial year message to urban audiences via stand-alone interactive kiosks installed in city parks.
* The New Yorker gave its audience a powerful meditation on the water crisis in Flint, Michigan.
* Newsweek created an interactive version of a cover story re-examining the evidence behind a 20-year-old murder.
* The Australian Broadcasting Company turned one of its most-popular television shows into an engaging, interactive documentary.
And we’re particularly excited for a project underway at The Atlantic’s award-winning brand shop, but we can’t talk about that just yet.
Q: Looking ahead, how do you see interactive video impacting the future of visual storytelling?
A: Interactive video will impact the future of visual storytelling because interactive content will be fully democratized, and it will be produced across the creative spectrum ranging from professionals to amateurs. The most interesting thing to watch is not the technology, but rather what comes of the technology. It will reshape the craft of storytelling for a next generation of storytellers similar to how blogging and YouTube evolved over the last decade.
Q: What does interactive video bring to the storytelling experience that traditional, linear video cannot?
A: Interactive video brings a new type of audience that is increasingly eager to make decisions and choices. Interactive video also illuminates storylines by providing content creators with the ability to combine video and photography into interactive elements that bring them to life. By having interactive video with simple, intuitive navigation for the viewer, it helps make the stories more impactful and memorable, which traditional, linear video does not offer.
Q: What are the advantages and disadvantages of interactive content?
A: Engagement is the primary benefit of interactive content. In a period where there is more visual content produced than ever before, the attention span of audiences is rapidly shrinking and media consumers are actively searching for new ways to avoid advertising. As a result, publishers and brands need to become more sophisticated storytellers, by providing more control to their users if they want them to stay involved. Interactive video gets people involved by asking them to make choices and decisions and it keeps them involved. We are seeing engagement rates of upwards of 60 percent on Verse-produced stories. Additionally, we are seeing viewing durations 50 percent or more about linear presentations. Consistently, we have seen that if you give people the opportunity to get more involved with your story then they will.
Q: Do you think interactive video should be part of every marketer’s marketing mix?
A: In short, yes, interactive video should be part of every marketer’s marketing mix. Brand storytelling tops every C-suite executive’s priority lists, and all publishers and marketers are seeking new ways to develop rich, meaningful digital content that effectively engages audiences — specifically through video. BUT DEVELOPING THE TECHNOLOGY TO SCALE THESE EFFORTS has been expensive and time consuming. Verse is designed to solve the problem. Verse helps content creators combine video and photography with interactive elements that provide a unique, non-linear viewing experience at a fraction of the cost and time associated with traditional solutions.
About Antonio Bolfo, co-founder, Verse:
An award winning photographer with an extensive background in the arts, including film, animation and video game design, Bolfo created Verse to tell the kind of stories he loves – rich, immersive multimedia experiences – without huge budgets and months-long development cycles. Bolfo has covered issues of crises and conflict in the Middle East, Africa, Asia and the Caribbean. His work has been published in The New York Magazine, Vanity Fair, The New Yorker, Time, Rolling Stone, and others.