What Happened to Interactive Digital Advertising?

Interaction is a kind of action that occurs as two or more objects have an effect upon one another.


Earlier this year I was putting together a talk to inspire a global group of digital marketers for one of the world’s biggest brands.

It was an intimidating brief because they do a lot of very good digital work, in one of my favorite genres of work: do nice things for real people in the real world, film it, put it on YouTube.

In order to bring something else to the table, I decided to lean into the interactive part of digital work. Advertising that the user can do something with, to, that they can INTERACT with in some way.

I put a call out on Twitter asking for work of this nature and…well there just wasn’t very much. There were a few beatifully designed websites, and lots of lots of films.

Since we started our own company and I no longer work for a big ad agency, I’ve not judged as many advertising awards this year as in the previous few.

The award shows are really helpful, especially if you are prilveleged to be asked to judge, since you get a crash course in all the best work in the world in that category over a few very intense days of viewing & debating.

So I went to look at what won the anachronously named CYBER category at Cannes.

The Grand Prix Winners were: Volvo Epic Split,

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M7FIvfx5J10

Pharrell’s 24 HOUR music video for Happy,

http://youtu.be/i0A3-wc0rpw

and The Scarecrow by CAA for Chipotle.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lUtnas5ScSE

Notice anything?

They are all films.

One is an ad, plain and simple. One is a very long film. One is a film with an associated game, but the film is what made all the impact. [Did any of the judges play the game? I wonder.]

Not very interactive. In fact, no role for the user — just for a viewer.

Film has plenty of categories to be awarded in. Indeed Epic Split won in basically every category. Maybe 80s nostalgia, who knows.

So I was a bit saddened that now the digital category was simply the place for films that were online. It seems to diminish it, for me. The beauty of interactive work was that the user was in the driving seat, as it were.

Sound of Honda won a gold — it’s a great use of data and technology, but for most people it can only be viewed as a film.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_0ZTPCoQ4jI

Droga picked up a gold for Newcastle Brown Ale’s IF WE MADE IT. This was a SuperBowl hijack where the made some — you guessed it — films. Animatics of how they might have made a SuperBowl spot. They made a bunch of these animatics, including a version of the Chobani ad they also worked on.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LsrPZPZi94s

British Airways [and BBH/OgilvyOne I think?] won gold for the Magic of Flying. This is a beautiful piece, amazing use of real time data technology to inform a digital billboard. It’s great. I love it. It’s not interactive.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k3JucPPqd40

All Eyes On S4 won a silver for the excellent HEIMAT for Samsung. It’s a wonderul installation piece, where you have to keep your eyes on the phone for 60 minutes and you win it. In Zurich station. Online, you can only watch the film.

You get the idea. I guess I just miss ideas that work on the web, where the user is in control of the interaction. Where everyone gets an interactive experience.

So, I was really, really pleased, with the Honda piece that came out today: THE OTHER SIDE. Super simple, incredibly beautiful pieces of film, yes, but the user controls the interaction, and it’s SUPER FUN.

Go watch and CLICK.

[btw: if you have more good examples please send them my way @faris. I also liked The EA Giferator and Hashtagmyass of late.]

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