My first computer was a Commodore 64. To load the data, you had to plug in a tape recorder. (YES: TAPE RECORDER) Loading of a level could take up to 10 minutes. A typical Donkey-Kong-playing-evening went like this: 10 minute loading, 5 minute playing, 10 minute loading, 5 minute playing. Rinse and repeat. The graphics were clunky, the game froze many times and failed 50% of the time to save the last level on the TAPE RECORDER.
Yet, however bad the game experience was back then, it was still better than most interactive video ads today. At least the game tried to entertain me and give me some joy. As bad as the gaming experience was, I still played for hours because it was 100 times better than any board game. The game should have never been downloaded to a TAPE RECORDER but, at least, the company tried to deliver on the edge of interactive entertainment. It was broken and terrible. And it was new.
20 years later, TAPE RECORDERS are an extinct species, we have technologies nobody ever imagined and the majority of brands still run their television commercials as a pre-roll, with a pop-up inserted: “Click here!”
As we all know, when we wait for content while watching an ad, what we really want at that moment is to click for another ad.
Is this really it when it comes to video advertising? Static entertainment with a layer of interactivity? Can’t we do better? In traditional advertising, agencies come up first with an idea and worry afterwards how to make it happen. Interactive video doesn’t push the envelope, doesn’t push the vendors enough. Instead, agencies get pushed by vendors.
When it comes to digital video, interactivity shouldn’t be an afterthought, it should be climax of the initial idea. So, please, for the love of Ogilvy, stop handing off your commercial to the digital nerds and expect some form of return (Engagement, Investment, Views). Or that counter next to the skip button will continue to be the best thing about online video.
People love that button.