“Storytelling is the most powerful way to put ideas into the world today.”

Robert McKee

Here at Ceros, we spend a lot of time thinking and writing about digital storytelling. While the principles of great storytelling haven’t changed since the birth of language, we’re fascinated by the evolution of media used to share those stories. We’re on a mission to discover which digital formats are the most powerful delivery mechanism for the most powerful type of content brands can create.

Which leads me to interactive content. I’m a passionate believer in the power of interactivity to deliver stories in a unique, immersive, and engaging way for today’s distracted content consumer. I work with clients to build a variety of different interactive pieces in our platform; I also obsessively research what other interactive content exists in the wilds of the web.

Based on firsthand and secondhand data, here are 4 emerging types of interactive content that seem primed to take off over the coming months.

Interactive Video

Nike Lidyana

Source: Nike

Nike’s Lidyana microsite combines video, branching logic, and shopability to deliver a fully immersive, customized experience. As you browse the site, you’re able to choose which activities you want to view the main character doing. As she goes about her day—getting ready, stretching, working out—you can explore her clothing and even add items to a shopping cart.

This kind of immersive, personalized storytelling can be a powerful content marketing tool for consumers and B2B brands. Giving your audience control over how they explore your narrative can drive engagement and provide a more enjoyable experience.

Interactive Games

Interactive Matching Game

Source: Adweek

Advertising platform GumGum created an interactive experience called the Marketer’s Matching Game. Viewers have to match cards with the same designs to learn about different types of marketing tactics. This format is a lot more engaging than just a simple blog post or static infographic.

Even if you don’t have a developer or platform to create intricate games, you can still add gamified elements to your content by assigning points and levels to certain actions.

Branching Narratives

Project Spark

Source: Microsoft Project Spark

The Choose Your Own Adventure book series from the 80s was super popular because people love exploring their own path. With today’s technology, brand storytellers are able to create even more interesting branching narratives. For example, Microsoft’s The Keys to the Kingdom microsite gives you the freedom to answer questions and progress through the narrative about Project Spark as you like. Depending on the answers you give, you get a different storyline and ending.

You can create your own branching narratives pretty easily in a traditional HTML framework, but a more sophisticated HTML5 experience can be even more effective—and provide you with detailed data on which paths were most popular within your content. Top-of-funnel educational content is a slam dunk for this format, but you could also use branching narratives further down the funnel to help prospects explore the solutions that best fit their objectives or challenges.

Sophisticated Microsites

Interactive Microsite

Source: SimpliSafe

Microsites have been around for ages, but they’re making a comeback—and bringing sexy with them. Today’s microsites are a far cry from the boring sites of the early 2000s. Brands are incorporating interactivity, fun visual effects, and beautiful graphics to inform and engage their audiences.

For example, this Layered Defense Microsite from SimpliSafe brings straightforward home security recommendations to life with cute art, interesting scrolling effects, and clickable elements.

A microsite is a great way to create a standalone, themed experience to educate your audience. It also gives you more design freedom, as it doesn’t have to reflect the look and feel of your main web properties (unless you want it to).

The Bottom Line

The world of digital storytelling is ever-expanding. These 4 interactive content types are on our radar for 2016.

What new formats will you be experimenting with this year? Let me know in the comments.