Interactivity as the Future of Media
Interactivity as the Future of Media
My name is Pedro Ferreira, I’m part of Xperience Plus, and interactivity is one of my favorite concepts and subjects. I believe interactivity has disrupted at most media channels but there is a lot we can still do.
There are different definitions of what interactivity means, depending on the person we talk to, for example, it’s slightly different if the person’s background is natural or computer science, or if it’s marketing, communication, or industrial design, or architecture.
For me, it’s crystal clear that a non-interactive concept is something static and doesn’t change anything towards available information about the user. And our world is yet full of non-interactive experiences, non-interactive messages, and non-interactive content.
For centuries those were easier to create and to disseminate. Call it Mass Media, Mainstream, etc…Although things, messages, and content are so abundant in an exponential world, the relevancy of these non-interactive experiences will become minimal.That’s why I believe in interactivity as a key for any great experience nowadays to stand up and be memorable.
We as a company share this belief. Our goal will be to find ways to create interactions in our society using interactive media – interactive tools to enable people to live unlimited realities.
First steps, or Back to the Future
How many times did you fall asleep watching TV? According to some studies, it’s more than one out of two people. Some people may think it’s just a habit…I feel it’s a dangerous habit both for human beings and content. It means we are bored.
But let’s step back, and keep in the Media and broadcast world. What has excited me the most over the years?
In my childhood there was one of my favorite TV Shows, which was live in 40 countries, created by a Danish company called indeed Interactive Television Entertainment (ITE), was Hugo. This was in 1990.
It featured a video game that was played by the audience via a telephone connection. A player would call the show where they would control a cartoon character on the TV screen in several scenarios by pressing digital keys on the phone (either 1,2, 3 or 2, 4, 6) which represented different character controls.
It was a hit! It was very interactive at that time.
Later people started to Call TV Stations to vote on which program would be broadcasted next or even to participate live. This was something that my parents would have never imagined…
Some years later, maybe 1995, when I was able to read (and I loved to read) but some books made me fall asleep. I remember the thing that got me awake, was a book alike to Choose Your Own Adventure, a concept created by Edward Packard, in which each story is written from a second-person point of view, with the reader assuming the role of the protagonist and making choices that determine the main character’s actions and the plot’s outcome.
Never a book intrigued me the most.
Some years later, in 2007, already in my professional career, I had the chance to be part of a project that won multiple awards, including Viral Marketing Hall of Fame honor issuer Marketing Sherpa – USA, Cyber Cristal honor issuer Meribel Awards – France, Best Direct Response Campaign honor issuer ad:tech – USA, Originality & Innovation Award honor issuer Meios & Publicidade – Portugal.
Basically, it was online advertising for a football club. The ad was run on the Sporting website (www.Sporting.pt), asking viewers to supply their names and telephone numbers to find out more about how they could help the football team succeed.
Users who entered their name and number were shown a brief video of the team in the locker room where Coach received a team roster with a missing member. The coach then saw the viewer’s name on the list and dialed his phone. At this point, the viewer’s own phone rang, for those who picked the call, on the other side of the line they could listen to the coach urged to get to the stadium fast because the team needed him or her.
Just within two weeks of the campaign, Sporting.pt drew 610,000 visits – resulting in 1,500 new memberships.
We kept working on it and found ways for people to record messages and send the video to friends, we made people interact with voice commands and voice recognition, we used DTMF on mobile to replace remote control, we even had volume recognition to test who would scream harder to control the speed of the moto in the videos.
So as you see, interactive media and technology were hand to hand and I have been there…
But finally, the last and the most recent example I want to highlight is from my favorite Netflix series – Black Mirror. My favorite episode out of 5 seasons is the special one called Bandersnatch.
Here the viewer is able to control the main character in some given crucial decisions, affecting the story.
This episode was released in late December 2018. The quickest path takes 40 minutes. On average people go for 90 minutes, but in total there are more than 150 minutes of different scenes.
Interactivity as a New Concept of User’s Experience
With all these examples of interactive media that marked my life, I’m trying to showcase that Interactive media is meant to engage the user and interact with him or her in a way non-interactive media does not.
Unlike traditional media, interactive media is meant to enhance a user’s experience. In order to do so, an interactive medium normally requires two or more of the following elements:
- moving images and graphics;
- personalized Animations;
- personalized Digital Texts;
- alternative videos;
- different audios;
- more technologies integrated.
In interactive media you are not only watching, but also having an active role, you are playing, you are the director, you are not passive.
You can feel your own role and impact on the experience you are living. Your brain is much more stimulated.
Let me finish in a less technological tone, and maybe more philosophical: “Everything in your life is a reflection of a choice you have made. If you want a different result, make different choices.” That’s the concept of interactivity for me. The more we enable people to interact, the more we are enabling the people to live.
Non-interactivity is extinguished. Interactivity is to be alive enhancing media, entertainment, and sectors of business to boost people’s lives and experiences. That’s one of our pillars at Xperience Plus.