Content Marketing
Here’s Why Netflix Is Embracing Interactive Content (And You Should Too)

Here’s Why Netflix Is Embracing Interactive Content (And You Should Too)

July 13, 2017
3 min read

Who didn’t love Choose Your Own Adventure books as a kid? Being a kid is tough; there aren’t many things they can control. So it’s no wonder that millions of kids loved the Choose Your Own Adventure series. Those books offered personalized stories and control over their reading experience.

Those same lessons apply to interactive content, which lets users take the lead and offers personalized content as a reward for engagement. Netflix is the latest company to recognize the power of interactive content. The subscription viewing service recently revealed plans to incorporate choose your own adventure-style interactive elements into its original programming. The company is betting that adding interactivity will unlock new ways to reach viewers, according to Netflix president Reed Hastings.

“Once you’ve got interactivity, you can try anything,” Hastings told the Daily Mail. Here’s why we should all take a cue from Netflix’s bold move and embrace interactive content.

It’s engaging

Is there any more passive activity than staring at a TV screen? Back in the old days, most of us were glued to our sets for fear of missing an important plot point, only running to the kitchen or the bathroom on commercial breaks. But these days, thanks to services like Netflix, we’re used to stopping and starting our content at will. What’s more, as many of 87% of us are looking at our phones while we watch TV.

Netflix is smart to get users engaging with its shows (here are other examples of engaging content). Audiences have become increasingly impatient with passive experiences, and giving audiences choices is the best way to make sure they give content a chance, whether it’s an interactive quiz that helps them determine the best place for their next vacation to a choice of ending in their favorite show.

It’s personal

It’s no secret that the Facebook algorithm feeds us content we want to see, and ads are becoming so hyper-targeted they can tell us what we’re getting for Christmas before Santa brings it. While this intense level of personalization can sometimes feel a bit creepy, audiences have come to expect at least some level of personalization in all their online interactions.

A recent study by Marketing Drive found that 71% of audiences prefer personalized content. Adding interactive elements to static content can ensure that each user feels their experience is tailored to their needs and interest. For example, adding an interactive assessment to a static white paper helps the user find solutions to his or her unique problems rather than offering a list of inapplicable options. By putting the audience in charge of its viewing experience, Netflix is embracing the power of personalization.     

It keeps audiences coming back for more

Netflix shows like Stranger Things and Orange is the New Black, have been a major part of the American cultural zeitgeist in recent years, with hundreds of articles, podcasts, comments section debates, and even memes springing up around our collective viewing experiences. Imagine how much more intense those discussions will get if a full viewing of these shows required multiple exposures to choose different actions and even endings. Audiences would feel compelled to watch again to get the full story.

One of the biggest benefits of interactive content is its potential for repeat exposure. Trying out a quiz or assessment multiple times for different results is part of the fun, just like flipping back to the beginning to start all over again was the biggest draw of the Choose Your Own Adventure books from childhood. A study by ion and the Content Marketing Institute recently found that 79% of marketers agreed interactive content has reusable value and often results in repeat exposures and multiple visits.

It sets you apart from competitors

At the end of the day, Netflix needs to differentiate itself from what seems like an endless array of similar offerings: Hulu, Amazon, HBO Go, the list is constantly growing. Interactive programming gives Netflix something competitors don’t have, which can be a huge advantage when all these streaming services have comparable movie and television offerings.

Interactive content has proven effective at setting companies apart from competitors. One study from ion and Demand Metric found that 88% of marketers said interactive content put them head and shoulders above the other guys.

Will audiences soon prefer interactive episodes of House of Cards to the endless repeats of Law & Order on cable TV? Only time will tell. But as audiences come to expect interactivity in all elements of their lives, even their online streaming services, it’s time for the rest of up to set up our game and start creating the most innovative, and interactive, content possible

2 thoughts on “Here’s Why Netflix Is Embracing Interactive Content (And You Should Too)

  1. Andrea Torti

    I completely agree – as flooded as they are with tremendous amounts of content, many people can do nothing but watch passively: only highly-engaging content can overcome their apathy!

  2. hppy romz

    it’s time for the rest of up to set up our game and start creating the most innovative, and interactive, content possible

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Michael Brenner is an international keynote speaker, author of "Mean People Suck" and "The Content Formula", and Founder of Marketing Insider Group. Recognized as a Top Content Marketing expert and Digital Marketing Leader, Michael leverages his experience from roles in sales and marketing for global brands like SAP and Nielsen, as well as his leadership in leading teams and driving growth for thriving startups. Today, Michael delivers empowering keynotes on marketing and leadership, and facilitates actionable workshops on content marketing strategy. Connect with Michael today.