Rapt Media Seeks Attention with Interactive Video Platform

2/14/14Follow @MichaelXBD

Some experts are betting that interactive video is about to reach its potential as the next big thing in online advertising. Boulder, CO-based Rapt Media is working to prove them right.

Rapt Media this week released a new Web-based software program that marketers and content creators can use to create interactive video and websites. Rapt Media is a Techstars alumni and was formerly known as Flixmaster.

The idea behind the program, which Rapt Media calls Site Pairing, is to break down the boundary between a video and a website, Rapt Media co-founder and CEO Erika Trautman said.

Currently, websites can feature videos, but they usually are a distinct piece of content that doesn’t interact with the rest of the page as the video plays. With Site Pairing, companies will be able to create interactive videos so that when a user clicks on something in the video the page changes, and vice versa.

“It will feel very much like the video is the website,” Trautman said.

The software already was put to use to create the interactive site for the Cinemax drama “Banshee.” The site features interactive videos that tell the characters’ back stories and other content for fans.

The intent of the site is to give viewers additional opportunities to interact with the show and to build awareness, Trautman said.

The “Banshee” website shows off what the Rapt Media’s software can do for media companies, but it can be used to create so-called shoppable videos, where consumers can learn more about products, and interactive ad campaigns. Site Pairing also can be used by enterprises to create instructional websites, Trautman said.

Interactive video might have hit an inflection point in 2013, with high profile ad campaigns from Phillips (which Rapt Media helped produce) and videos by musicians Pharrell Williams and Bob Dylan.

Those examples show the potential of interactive video, but they also were expensive projects. Rapt Media hopes that site pairing will produce quality videos and websites with greater ease and lower costs.

“It’s been very cumbersome to build that kind of experience. What we’ve done is make it more friendly and fast. You can build a template and churn these out without compromising creative quality,” Trautman said.

If Site Pairing is successful, it could grab part of a growing market. A report last year from Forrester estimated that ad agencies and brands in the U.S. will increase spending on online video marketing by 22.4 percent by 2018.

Much of that increased spending could be on interactive video, according to analyst Anthony Mullen. He thinks agencies and content producers will need new tools to get the most out of the experience.

“Video experiences are evolving from a lean-back medium to something more pliable and interactive—creating a new canvas for the Web,” Mullen wrote. “Marketers should not sit still with their existing approach to video and instead should begin to embrace the new interaction design possibilities with [interactive video.]”

Michael Davidson is the editor of Xconomy Boulder/Denver. He covers startups, venture capital, clean tech, energy, aerospace, telecoms, and whatever else happens above 5,280 feet. Contact him at mdavidson@xconomy.com. Follow @MichaelXBD

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