Mark Schaefer explained it best: We are in the midst of content shock. So much content is being produced at such a rapid rate that it is becoming impossible for anyone to truly consume it. Static content – blog posts, infographics, whitepapers – will not cut it anymore in this new era. What’s more, the average attention span in 2015 was 8.25 seconds, making it even harder to capture attention. Content shock poses a serious challenge to brands, necessitating a content evolution.

What Is Interactive Content?

Interactive content simply means content that provides a way for viewers to engage with it. Types of interactive content include quizzes, interactive infographics, shoppable video, graders, calculators, and product hunts.They get your audience thinking by engaging them in some sort of activity, whether that’s answering questions, making decisions, choosing a path, playing a game, or designing a custom product. Interactive content better educates viewers because it helps the brain absorb new information in a busy environment (in this case, content shock). They become active users, no longer passive observers. It’s the class discussion versus the lecture – everyone is more likely to enjoy and learn more from the former.

What Can Interactive Content Do for Your Brand?

Interactive content captures attention much more rapidly than static content, which is important given that the average person can focus on something for less than a goldfish can. Because it requires action, interactive content is a refreshing break from short- and long-form written content. Viewers feel listened to, because they can enter information about themselves in a two-way dialogue with the brand.

That communication leads to the other key benefit: user-provided data. Interactive content enables rich data collection, for both behavioral and psychographic data. Brands can measure how far along in a quiz or grader an individual got before leaving, or how many fields a calculator should have to be most effective. Even more importantly, brands can capture user-provided data points on preferences, interests, and opinions. These data will be much more accurate than anything inferred from third party data, which is notoriously inaccurate. Interactive content can capture data points as specific as shoe size, favorite jacket color, job title, travel plans, and more. These data power much more effective remarketing and allow brands to build richer profiles of their customers.

What Are the Challenges of Interactive Content?

Interactive content needs to present a value-based exchange. Customers will never take quizzes, customize products, or use calculators if they feel like it is merely a data collection scheme. They want to get something out of the content that they did not have before. That means with interactive content, brands need to make sure that they provide something worth customers’ time. Custom recommendations, unique insights, and personalized discounts will ensure that customers stay engaged and view the content as authentic.

How Can Brands Get Started?

Getting started with interactive content comes down to consciously thinking about it in content planning sessions. Brands should push themselves to think about where they could provide additional value to customers with their content. Could a blog post about home security be transformed into a home security grader? Could a new infographic on social media become an infographic-quiz hybrid that helps readers pick the right platform for their brand?

Interactive content will become the norm in the next few years, and smart brands will stand out leading the way out of content shock.