How HTML5 and interactive video are increasing product sales

How HTML5 and interactive video are increasing product sales

I’m probably a bit of an oddity in that I mostly use YouTube to watch instructional videos, be it programming languages or how to replace the glass on the cell phone my daughter just broke for the fourth time. One frustration with these, not to take away from the folks who generously spend their time to put this out there for free, is that there is no real decision tree in there for variables, they all assume a single path. What I’m describing really is a subset of the issue of interactivity with media, in this case, video, and this is where Rapt Media comes in, how they saw this need and chose to fill it.

As quick background, Rapt Media was founded by Erika Trautman, who owned and operated an Emmy award winning video production company, and Cameron McCaddon, a senior Game Designer at Namco Networks, who’d been dreaming of ways video with interactive and social elements that were being used in the gaming industry. Rapt Media is the only company that provides interactive video that is viewable on mobile devices, that can easily be scaled or repurposed, that can use existing video content, that pairs directly with a brand’s website and that offers the most insightful analytics, more on the analytics later.

I had a wide ranging conversation with CEO, Erika Trautman, about the technology, the service, the company and how HTML5 is increasing conversions over Flash. Some of this is a Q&A format and some is summarized from our conversation that doesn’t lend itself to a Q&A.

Fundamentally what Rapt Media has done is built a drag and drop video editor that allows you to take various chunks of video and lay them out on a story board. They provide an interface layer that allows you to create a decision tree that will branch down each path to a different video. This overlay is hosted in their cloud based system, your videos can be in that same cloud or on your own services. They generate an iframe that can be distributed to wherever you need it and the results are a fully responsive HTML5 based interactive video. The entire experience is very clean and easy to use, they’ve done an exceptional job with this.


They provide all the tools to make the video as interactive as you need. One thing I noticed on a couple of their demo videos was that I didn’t have an obvious way to back up a decision tree and go down another path without just restarting the video and having to listen to everything again, however they have this great sample video for making a pie that illustrates just how complete you can get with the video, being able to back up, fast forward through segments, jump to different segments, do clean loops of music and video at an end point, etc. So, all the tools are there, it’s incumbent on the creator to put the functions in there for you.

Rapt Media can track down to a click path in each video. You will know exactly how many clicks went through each path, but also the conversion of those click routes and the desired end point destination. Being able to parse between between popularity and conversion allows them to more finely tune their video. In the example below, it is actually the less traveled path that generated the most conversions. In other words, it is counter intuitive that the more popular path generated less sales, but that is the value of having these kind of granular analytics.

Shawn Gordon: What are some of the metrics for your success stories in terms of increased conversion?

Erika Trautman: We’ve really hit a maturation point now with the technology. Interestingly, the music industry has been the main source of helping with the adoption and acceptance of this kind of technology and interface paradigm. We’re also seeing that HTML5 based immersive sites are outperforming Flash based ones by 40 percent on click through rates. For the roll out we did with Maybelline, they had a click through rate 14 times higher than anything they’d done before.

One of the interesting side metrics we got that ran against conventional wisdom, was that people will spend far longer on content from their smart phone as long as the content was engaging. People we’re spending several minutes at least, when they normally just bounce from item to item. We also found that an interactive video landing page outperformed a conventional landing page by a factor of two. There is a recent Sizmek report on the stats about growing the use of Interactive video and the stats about HTML5 that reflect our findings as well.

SG: Have you developed any proprietary or patented technology here or are you putting together things off the shelf so to speak?

ET: We’ve developed a variety of patented, patent pending and proprietary technology that allows us to really fine tune the product and flow so our customers realized the greatest benefit.

SG: Speaking of your customers, can you talk about pricing at all?

ET: There is such a huge variety of services we offer that it is really best for people to work with us directly to help them come up with a plan that makes sense for what their objectives are.

SG: That makes sense given how broad the capabilities are and the variety of targets.Can you tell me more about this Site Pairing I see discussed on your site?

ET: I’m glad you asked, you just had a press release on this recently and it is very exciting. Site Pairing allows two way communication between the video and web site itself. If a viewer is clicking on something in the video, then the website can know that and then load the rest of the site based on that decision. Or if the person is clicking on something on the site, it can drive which video would then play. We have this fully integrated with eCommerce solutions, so a simple example would be selecting items in a video and having them in load in to your shopping cart.

SG: I’m particularly excited about the educational and training aspects of the technology, I really enjoyed the “Pecan Pie” video and my daughter liked the Maybelline one, there are a lot of possibilities here and I’m sure many will come out that you never envisioned when you started.

Do you have some final thoughts to leave us with?

ET: I’m sure you’re right Shawn, we’ve been very pleased with the adoption, acceptance and success of what we’ve built thus far. Going forward, Rapt Media is looking to demonstrate that as brands grow the amount of budget dedicated to online video/digital marketing, they need to look beyond YouTube for their video strategy, because

  1. It’s too noisy,
  2. It’s only useful for reach, and
  3. They need better analytics than number of views or time with video today.

SG: Very good points, knowing you had 10,000 views on YouTube doesn’t really tell you much of anything in terms of if that turned in to something useful. I want to thank you for your time today Erika, this was a very interesting conversation for me, and I believe for our readers as well.

Main image credit:

Shawn Gordon founded The, a leading developer of commercial software and open source development on Linux for many years. He also founded ProgRock Records, a leading record label in the Progressive Rock community with over 100 artists. He's spent years building products and solutions, all the while writing over 100 articles for various magazines covering software reviews, programming tips, interviews and music piracy.