Where digital beats TV

Traditional advertising is about selling a concept to the audience. Invoking a feeling inside them that stays with them and connecting that feeling to the brand.

TV is arguably the best medium for this. When pictures and sound come together to make film, they capture our attention and immerse us in whatever world the creator designs. I love TV ads, but here I'm going to argue for another medium: interactive video in your web browser.

What happens when you add a third element to film? Pictures + sound + the ability to affect those things? I think that can amount to magic. Film immerses us in another world, but we are only spectators. With interactivity, we can put the plot and the destiny of our characters in the hands of viewers. Or should I say, participants.

A good comparison is Grand Theft Auto, the video game series that allows you to become whatever "badass gangster hero" you like. Once the game's creators had nailed gameplay, the head of Rockstar Games set a focus on storyline, aiming to make a video game that competed with film, art and music as a cultural entity unto itself. They took all the plot twists and nuance in character seen in film, and pushed them to a realm that film could never hope to live in. Gaming is now a culture celebrated by the normals (not just the geeks), and plot and character have become integral parts of modern game design.

All of this works for us as digital advertisers too. We have nailed 'gameplay', that is: UX, and it's improving all the time as new ways of interacting with technology become normal, and plot and character has been integral to good advertising for decades.

Online interactive video does what Grand Theft Auto did. It involves us in a concept in a way that TV advertising never could—at least, it has the potential to—and I think that is a huge opportunity for brands.

'Earth 2045' from Swedish pension company SPP is a good example, see what you think. And give it a fair test: put your headphones on and watch it properly!