Clickable video poses exciting opportunities for the future of video. Video is projected to continue its dominance of web traffic, largely because it's a much more engaging and connected form of communication than written word. (Wait till my girlfriend reads that). The majority of the time with video, we are watching another human who acknowledges us as the viewer. This makes the web experience more personal and direct. Savvy online marketers have been leveraging this concept for the past decade and clickable video is the natural evolution of a relatively new medium.

For those of you that don't have experience with clickable video, see the video embedded below for an example. I wrote and directed this video for my employer, ad agency Location 3 Media, in conjunction with production company LightGroup. I would encourage you to turn on all tags automatically, without having to mouseover, using the slide out menu in the upper left of frame.

This video was developed with a technology called wireWAX that is doing some amazing things. As you'll see, you are able to integrate a variety of interactive content including social media, search, and SMS, right on top of the video. On top of this, we're able to integrate the technology with our Brightcove account, so we're able to manage the video and get analytics from within our existing account.

5 Tips for Creating Engaging Clickable Web Videos

So how to create effective, engaging clickable video? Read on...

1. Begin with the End in Mind

Okay, so this allusion to a notable self-help book gives me away as a self-professed lifehacker. But this statement holds true in this case as well – there is really no good way to utilize clickable video unless you set out to create one. Repurposing existing content is extremely hard to do, but if anyone knows of good examples, please send them my way.

There should be a strategy behind the clickable content. You have to get into the mindset of web developers who have to consider the usability behind the frameworks they build.

  • Why should the viewers click here?
  • What information do you want to convey with the clickable content?
  • What actions do you want them to take?

And when you release your video, remember to let viewers know it's clickable, preferably right away once it starts playing. In the video above you'll see an opening bumper letting viewers know they can interact with it. We also made sure that the narration included direct calls to the viewer to click on the elements which were most important to our piece.

2. View the Technology as a Character

This is the biggest tip I can give on the writing side and it works on several levels. Primarily, just as you would put time and care into crafting a character for a narrative piece, you have to do the same for your clickable content. Just as you would write a character with a backstory – a set of assumptions that will guide his/her behavior – you want viewers to have a consistent set of assumptions for how they interact with your clickable content. For our video, we established that that the majority of the clickable objects would be animations.

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This statement holds true for shooting. You have to plan your clickable elements in each shot as if they were a person. Do you keep them in frame long enough that they are recognizable? You want them to be easy to click, so ideally they're not moving around too quickly in the frame. I can't stress enough the importance of previz here. We storyboarded every shot of the piece that involved clickable elements (also a best practice for any sort of motion graphics).

3. Use a Dig-Down Approach with Your Clickable Content

There's an easy trap with clickable video of simply restating the same content in both your video and clickable pieces. Another common pitfall is to simply hit the same call-to-action over and over. While there is value in repetition of message and being straightforward with your call-to-action, you should try to create a more subtle interplay between video and clickable content. Give viewers credit. If their first few clicks are a disappointment, they won't continue to do so.

Try using a dig-down approach where the clickable content provides more details on the higher level narration. This additional content should be useful or provide other value to the viewer. This will make your primary, sales message memorable and increase pass along value.

We aimed to deliver actual tips that viewers could take away and use on their business listings. And then we followed that up with an opportunity to dig down further by entering an email address to receive a whitepaper.

4. Open Your Mind

It's pretty amazing what all you can do with the technology. You can pull up additional video content and live social media streams within a video. It integrates directly with ecommerce applications. Viewers can register for contests or subscribe to your blog. All without leaving the frame, which is huge for viewer retention.

Soon, this technology will be moving to mobile (wireWAX already works on Android and should be coming soon to those non-Flash mobile devices everyone is raving about). Imagine the possibilities there. What if you could develop a way to the technology with augmented reality on mobile phones, skinning clickability on top of the real world?

The coolest applications of it have yet to be developed.

5. Make it Fun

While the main goal of our piece is to promote our newly written local search whitepaper, we've also woven in some purely "fun" elements of video (click on the bank scene character's search boxes for example). Clickable video is still a novel technology for most viewers and has built in pass-along value.

This is something we realized later in the game with our video. If I were to go back and rewrite, I certainly would integrate more playful elements, especially early on in the piece.


So there is my take on strategies for creating good clickable video content. If you've had any good tips from experiences with this technology, share them in them in the comments below.

  • Nathan Evans

    Wanted to share an update. wireWAX just sent me a really cool piece they developed for ITV in the UK that really takes this technology to the next level:

  • mcobrien

    My issue with clickable vids is this: Don't they invite the viewer AWAY from the video? Does anyone else see a problem with this?

    • Ronnie Bincer

      nope... because my videos (and my customer's videos) are usually made to encourage an action of some kind, so taking them away from the vid to do the desired action is just want we want them to do.

      • mcobrien

        It certainly would be an action 'of some kind'. Can't argue that.

        • Nathan Evans

          I agree with Hound. We had some very specific actions we wanted users to take with this video. And mcobrien, on the most prominent CTAs, where the narrator tells the viewer to click, we let people register for the whitepaper without ever leaving the screen.

          And then with the other actions, such as visiting the site and tweeting, those all open in new windows. So it's really a matter of letting viewers pick their path.

  • Ronnie Bincer

    I think Clickable video will really take off once someone figures out how to add it on top of a YouTube Embed that can be shown on your own site. Then the video can direct you to watch it on your site if you can't click on it (for those viewing it on YouTube) thereby helping get the viewer off YouTube and onto your target site.

    Nice Article though... Hey Nathan, I'm down in the Springs. Any joint activities we can do together?

  • Pablo6

    Good tips. Horrible audi dub. Yuck!

    • Mark Robertson

      Ha - I noticed that too. couldnt tell if it was a streaming issue cause it
      seemed to work one time I watch it but probably the raw file :)

    • Nathan Evans

      Yeah, we did ADR which synced perfectly on the file but never seems to stream that great. I wish we had more time for mixing which always helps further the illusion.

  • ScottyG

    Direct social media marketing is the wave of the future and this article nails it. Great job Nathan on the article and being a dead ringer for Matthew Perry! I am seeing more and more real-time apps. Case and Point

    • Nathan Evans

      Haha, thanks on both counts Scotty!

  • Jayce

    I LOVE CLICKABLE Vids! The challenging factor though is changing the ad model from CPM to CPA. This is tough and if this is going to become more widespread we need CPA (through clickable video ads) to be seen as more attractive by advertisers.

  • Kevin Nalts Nalty

    Nice piece Nathan. My additive tip: since most views are on YouTube (and it's very difficult to drive someone OFF the site). 1) provide unclickable annotations that direct people to URLs in description. 2) Be sure URL appears in truncated description. 3) If you really want direct response, become a partner, buy your own ads, and then you get a clickable invid on your own content.

    • Nathan Evans

      Thanks, Kevin. Definitely agree regarding Youtube, you absolutely should have all your content there too as well as your destination site. We actually shot a nonclickable version of the video as well that we're putting up there for now.

  • seth

    Wow!!! rock solid guide! interesting stuff. great job buddy. i think the avatar trailer used this a while back. should be interesting to see if this catches on. i think there should be an additional option to download all the clickable stuff at the end so you can enjoy the video.

    • Nathan Evans

      Thanks Seth! As you point out with the Avatar trailer, there are a ton of cool entertainment applications of this technology too. wireWAX actually did a clickable trailer for "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo"