As Mashable’s Matt Petronzio puts it in his article Immersing Consumers in ‘Immersive Experiences’, the term “immersive experience” may be one of the most overused phrases. But he also points out that the immersive experience approach in online marketing is actually pragmatic, able to engage online users by “pushing them into the middle of the content”. His examples clearly show that there are many ways to accomplish this, not just by having an image or video that fills up the entire background but also deploying interactive elements that allow online users to actually participate in the content itself.
And the driving force behind these immersive experiences is what we call, innovative streaming. Streaming ensures that your video plays immediately and smoothly when online users demand it, which plays a crucial role in making the experience immersive. Then comes the innovative part, where you offer an intuitive user interface that is natural and conducive for online users to explore and control your video, or at least certain aspects of it, creatively in real-time. It’s no longer the traditional lean-back experience where online users are simply fed with content, but it’s the newer, active lean-forward experience where they get to interact with the provided content.
So, does this mean everything online must turn into a video game of sort? No. Gamification is just one way to make your online experience immersive. There are many more possibilities.
One technological solution that’s picking up steam is Web-based robotics. Many forward-thinking brands are using Web-based robotics to provide one-of-a-kind online experiences that enhance their brand values. Driving a real car with a keyboard, shooting a ping pong ball launcher at eggnog cups, a music star remotely playing hundreds of pianos worldwide simultaneously, controlling a snowball launcher, playing a pinata robot and a tweet-powered paintball marker are some real world examples. Controlling something mechanical over the Internet is simply awesome, and truly immersive.
UGC (User-Generated Content) platforms are also popular. They allow online users to record and upload their own videos and mash them up with your video, creating an entirely new content in the process. A UGC platform can also be utilized for viewer votes, competitions or testimonials. A create-your-own-video-greetings app is also a good example of UGC. And the beauty of it is that online users become an essential part of this creative process.
Another solution is real-time creative collaboration. Imagine a virtual creative environment, perhaps a simple drawing canvas or a sophisticatedly simulated art gallery. Online users come on and begin to create a crowdsourced masterpiece together, all in real-time. And as more and more online users come on, the canvas or the gallery magically expands to accommodate the increased creative collaborative process.
As online users become more discerning and sophisticated, your web presence must become more creative; and all these immersive experiences are changing the online landscape as a result. Online technologies will continue to advance, which means immersive experiences – however cliché it may sound – will continue to evolve. So, are immersive experiences just a fad? Hardly. They are the answer to the future of user interactivity on the Web.