Most of the advancements that have fueled online video's recent growth over the last few years tend to revolve around the technical aspects of targeting and placement.
But Rapt Media CEO and co-founder Erika Trautman finds placing online video's value in "sight, sound and motion" overlooks the true power of new media.
"What surprised us when we started Rapt three years ago was that video was failing to take advantage of what online is great at: user choice, relevance, interaction, social chatting and search," Trautman said.
"It seemed that all we were doing with online video was taking the basic form that's been around since the invention of motion pictures a hundred years ago, and making it shorter and putting it on a smaller screen. That's completely missing the point, because the Internet is fundamentally different."
Rapt, whose clients include NBC Universal (its first work was for the company's USA Network) and Maybelline, focuses on connecting online video ads and content across screens while respecting the differences of each venue.
"We promise video-to-website pairing, where video can easily refer to specific parts of a marketer's main website, such as product offers or different information that a user is being introduced to in a video," Trautman said. "Interactivity is not just living within the video, but tying it to the rest of the Web. Most videos are just dead ends that sit in a player, display unit or on a site. But we want to seamlessly integrate with all parts of the Web."
The 30-strong company, which deploys its stack via a SaaS model, gets about half its business from agencies, with the remaining 50% coming directly from marketers and content companies. Rapt has also begun expanding beyond the United States, and has worked recently with WPP creative German subsidiary Ogilvy Düsseldorf on a campaign promoting Philips electric shaving and grooming products across the Web.
The campaign, titled "Designed To Play," sought to connect with young men on mobile, while linking to the wider placements on other media, said Thorsten Ruehlemann, the agency's worldwide managing partner for Global Brand Management.
"One of the most integral parts of the campaign is an interactive video whereby users can interact directly with the protagonist [of the stories in the Play campaign]," Ruehlemann said. "By choosing different styles, the user can create his own story of 'the night before.' Engaging and entertaining content helped us to bond the brand with our target group and also demonstrated the product features in a very natural environment. In the end, viewers were able to unlock no less than 625 possible story combinations, all through an interactive video."
The overarching goal was to build engagement around Philips shaving products and have it relate to the lives and imagination of young urban men. It is too early to say what the results ultimately were, Ruehlemann said, but the preliminary estimates showed time spent viewing the content exceeded four to five minutes, which he considered very positive.
"Another great thing about this campaign," he added, "is that Philips worked with us to really push the boundaries of what was possible in digital engagement via mobile in order to offer these young guys something worth investing their time in."