Netflix announced recently that they are producing a choose-your-own-adventure series in the vein of “Black Mirror.” This is a groundbreaking announcement in the media industry. Up to this point, choose-your-own-adventure interactive stories, outside of video games, have been limited to books and the occasional YouTube series. There have also been occasional projects posted online in a similar style. However, this specific narrative genre has never been seen on such a large scale. So, how does this relate to digital marketing? It doesn’t. At least it doesn’t relate directly. But it is a sort of concept that I think opens up many ideas in the area of digital marketing.
Giving the audience a sense of agency almost always results in a more involved, engaged audience. Viewing changes from a passive to a more active method. When people are already interacting with the content just to simply consume it, it opens the door for more people that are willing to interact with it online. Encouraging people to share the individual story that they experienced from the content, while allowing them to discuss those stories with other people online, can ultimately create an extremely engaged audience. This all comes back to the idea of narrative media and the inherent communities that build around it. I believe interactive storytelling can bring new kinds of people into those communities, and result in a much larger audience. Supporting and enhancing that community experience falls back on the marketers, though, and that can be a challenging position to be in.
I’m not sure how Netflix and/or the content creators will handle this project when it is finally released, but I’m really looking forward to how they treat it differently than their other media. TV is never treated the same as film. Film is never treated the same as video games. Interactive media should not be treated the same as other media as well. It’s different, and on all fronts, should be treated differently.