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This time it’s personal...

Want your video campaign to really stand out? Why not let the user choose what happens.

While there’s been lots of talk of personalisation in terms of the content served when a user hits a website, marketing campaigns are also taking an individual approach.

A campaign by Mercedes recently hit the headlines, as the TV ad (shown during The X Factor) allowed viewers to tweet their preferred ending, generating interaction between brand and viewer.

Outlet shopping centre Bicester Village has taken a similar approach in a digital format, launching a video online and allowing users to dictate the ending. The campaign is called ‘Dash for Denim’ and involves a number of retailers from Bicester Village including All Saints, Diesel and Tommy Hilfiger.

The campaign launched in September with a ‘Destination Denim’ film, which shows a group of men on motorbikes meeting a group of young women in a convertible car against a Wild West backdrop. As the groups meet, the video stops and asks the user if they are a ‘Chic Angel’ or ‘Denim Dandy’, with a call to ‘Click here’ on each. Once the user has chosen they are shown the second part of the film, and depending on their choice they will either see the women join the men on the motorbikes or the men jump into the car (with everyone changing their outfits accordingly).

Once the film has finished, users are invited to click through to the main Bicester Village website and also given the option to share the experience with their friends on Facebook.

While the concept is quite basic, Bicester Village has shown how online campaigns can involve an interactive element and give users a choice in what they see. The user will remember the brand that has allowed them to do this and share this news with their friends.

This is something we are sure to see more of, and as retailers integrate this kind of user-controlled campaign with technology that clicks directly from video to product pages, retailers will be able to entice new customers with exciting footage, personalise their experience and direct them towards product they have indicated they might like.

Essential advice — Personalising ad campaigns 

  • Jonny Spindler, Chief innovation officer at advertising agency AMV BBDO

Inviting consumers to influence and determine the outcome of ad campaigns is something that’s been around for a while. They allow consumers to interact and have a greater say and ultimately create a greater affinity with the brand than simply ‘pushing’ out marketing messages and hoping consumers will listen.

It is only in recent years that mainstream television has started to shift consumer behaviour to a point where people now expect to be able to control the outcome of what they are viewing.

Shows such as The X Factor, The Only Way is Essex and Million Pound Drop now actively invite viewers to be part of the show, decide its outcome and contribute to the overall entertainment experience.

Whether it’s a TV show or an advert, getting viewers to interact with the content has the same challenges.

First and most importantly, viewers have got to genuinely care about the outcome of the story and be entertained enough to want to effect this outcome. Viewers only vote on The X Factor if they have a real affinity to the contestants, in the same way they will only decide the outcome of a piece of branded content if they genuinely care about the story line or characters involved. Considering how the video content transcends into a social experience is essential.

Second, the content and story must be relevant to the audience. In the case of Mercedes, the story was written to align with the programming it sat within – music and celebrity-based story within The X Factor.

Thinking of the technology used to allow participation is ever-more important. Participation via a hashtag on Twitter, a ‘like’ on Facebook or even an SMS response should be determined by the technology usage of the desired audience.

And finally, with TV shows raising the bar in terms of creativity and quality, production values of user-controlled campaigns need to be higher than ever. Participation and technology can’t be at the expense of creativity and production quality.

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