Are interactive content experiences the best way to reach your customers? That’s what Moti Cohen, CEO and Co-founder of Apester, an interactive storytelling platform as a service, believes.
Cohen has a technology and product background; he helped build products and visual interactive strategies in digital formats for companies like WIX.com. He also worked in the finance industry, helping companies understand how to use visual cues in the world of trading.
He told me that his passion comes from “understanding how the mechanics work on a product level and packaging them in a way that is appealing on the visual level.”
Which is why he started Apester in 2013. He believed that there was a big transformation in how content was created and distributed and how consumers engaged with and consumed that content. And he wasn’t wrong. Social and mobile have helped create a new digital landscape, and it has dramatically changed how consumers engage and interact online. Cohen said he saw a huge opportunity to repackage content and add interactive experiences that are more effective for publishers/media and B2B marketers and brands.
The key to effective content is engagement
Cohen believes that in the next five to ten years, every brand will have a strategy around the type, format, and channel of content and how to manage its effectiveness. I would say many brands and media companies are already here, but he thinks we are only just beginning to figure out how to tie measurable performance indicators to our content. He’s probably not wrong on that last point.
We all know content marketing has been around for a long time in one form or another. Brands know that good content helps communicate and create brand awareness, but Cohen points out that it can also help a brand learn how to better position its product/offer in the market. And interactive content, Cohen said, makes content marketing more efficient.
Which is why Cohen saw a need to create a single platform that makes creating, distributing, and measuring interactive content easier. Apester is a platform where you can produce content, transform it to make it more interactive, distribute it across channels and platforms and collect the data from that interactive content in a single location where you can measure its performance and tie it to real business goals.
If you’ve ever used Canva, the user experience for Apester content creation is very similar. Anyone can sign up a free account (ad-supported) that lets them create a range of interactive content types including quizzes, polls, video quizzes or video polls, personality tests, stories, and image galleries and countdowns. After the free account, there is a revenue-sharing Publisher Pro account and a Marketing Pro account, each with additional capabilities around advertising, performance monitoring, integration, creative support, and more.
Apester- Create a Story
I wrote about Stories for social networks like Instagram and Facebook not so long ago. Apester also provides the ability to create and publish Stories to social media, but you can also publish your stories to your website or mobile app, which makes them that much more useful. You can also create stories for your website using AMP Stories, but that requires developer capabilities that you don’t need with Apester.
An example that Cohen provided was with EA Sports and a story around Team of the Season. The audience would vote for the best team. Included in the story was a CTA to either download the new FIFA 2019 game or purchase tickets to an upcoming game. Over half a million engaged with the story. Of those, 90% finished the story, and 20% swiped up to a landing page with a CTA. Apester has also been used by Time for the last three years to vote for Person of the Year.
One piece of the puzzle to improve the customer experience
An interactive content experience platform can’t exist on its own; it has to integrate with existing marketing and sales technology to connect and leverage the engagement data it captures. Along with providing a rich set of analytics in the Apester platform that helps you understand how your content is performing across each channel, you can also send engagement data to a DMP or a visualization tool where you can pull the data together with other customer data.
Engagement data can help improve retargeting and create more accurate segments or audiences as well. For example, Apester built a Story with a quiz for its own audience. Depending on the number of questions answered correctly, it built a set of audiences and targeted each one with a different message/offer.
Cohen said it’s easy to build a different strategy based on the customer’s knowledge or willingness to buy. However, Cohen said that the technology that will help you nurture an account to the point where they are more likely to buy - where the science will be at a level that can tell you exactly what to offer and the time to make the offer to increase conversion - is still a good twenty years away. And to make that happen, you will need all your data in one place. This is where Apester sees themselves in the future, as a core component used to help capture data in the most effective way.
The advertising element
Apester has a strong advertising component to its platform that makes it popular with publishers and brands that want to include ads in social and mobile content. Brands and publishers can create video and display advertising to use on their own websites and channels or brands can publish ads across Apester’s network of publishers.
Apester isn’t the only interactive content experience platform available. I’ve talked to Ceros and ion Interactive (now part of ScribbleLive) a few years ago and they are still going strong. Both are platforms for building a range of interactive experiences which include some of what Apester does, along with interactive whitepapers, infographics, look books and more. Ceros and ion Interactive land on the more complex end of the user experience scale. Other solutions that come in the middle offering a mix of interactive content capabilities like SnapApp, Uberflip, and others.
For me, Apester works because it’s easy to create bite-sized interactive content elements that you can quickly distribute to your social or mobile channels and embed into deeper experiences on your website. Apester is interactive content for the mobile and social generation, fun and easy to do activities that we all tend to love when we are scrolling our Instagram and Facebook feeds. If you are using the free version, you will have to put up with the ads that come along with it, so you’ll have to decide if that’s okay.
As a final note, Apester is planning to release a version of its platform for the small-to-medium business market later this year. It will include all the content creation functionality you get across all versions but offers less security, data capture, optimization and collaboration capabilities.