What is interactive video?

Interactive video takes many forms and can fall into a variety of definitions, but the gist is simple: it’s video that engages viewers in ways that stretch the boundaries of traditional video.

Think content where you can “build your own adventure” and choose the kind of video experience you’re after, or videos that include quizzes and information as you’re watching it.

For brands, this is a meta way to strengthen your digital marketing. In essence, interactive video is marketing wrapped inside your marketing video. With every card and contact form, you’re reaching the audience watching your video without having to communicate on another marketing channel (like email or social).

What sets interactive video apart from regular ole video?

Interactive video is, well, more interactive. It opens up a dialogue between viewer and creator, whether that’s through creative cards that give you behind-the-scenes trivia on a scene, or a customized end card that tells your viewers exactly which of your videos you should watch next. Interactive video is the next frontier of curating the watching experience.

Why should I use interactive video?

Video is always changing, and so should the kinds of video you create. Interactive video provides an opportunity to try something new and see if it resonates with your audience.

Connecting with viewers is a beautiful thing: it means you’re telling your story, reaching more humans, and growing your brand. When we’re talking interactive video, we mean a full suite of powerful interaction tools available with the touch of your keyboard. Vimeo’s interactive video tools are known for features like:

  • Powerful end screens: Vimeo Pro and above users can choose exactly what appears after their video (think recommended videos, contact forms, and call to action buttons).
  • Customizable contact forms: Vimeo Business and above users are now able to select exactly how they’d like to generate leads from their videos. You can place your contact form at any point throughout your video (beginning, middle, or end) and gather valuable user information (in addition to contact info).
  • Mobile-friendly cards: Vimeo Business and above users can link viewers to any destination they choose, at any point in their video, no matter where it’s being viewed. Plus, annotating your video and adding time cards allows users to drop in anywhere that matters to them, making it more likely the content inside your video will resonate with them.

How Vimeo’s interactive video tools work

Within the Vimeo player, you’ll find our Interaction Tools in the video settings. Here’s how you customize your videos:

  • Navigate to your Videos page.
  • Select the video you want to work with.
  • Click or tap the Settings icon for any video (your video will open in a new tab).
  • Within the video editor, click on “Advanced,” which is a gear icon to the far right.
See “Advanced” settings to the right of the Vimeo editor.
  • Head to the “Interaction Tools” section on the left sidebar. You’ll get a live preview of your video, so you can see what your changes will look in real time.
A snapshot of the interactive video features available, like chapters and cards.
  • From there, you’ll have options to customize your end screens, chapters, contact forms, and end cards.
  • Then, hit “save” to make your interactive changes official!

How to make interactive video with Vimeo

Create powerful end screens

End screens come with eight customizable options, all designed to engage your audience. To choose your end screen, hit the pencil icon underneath the “End Screen” field. 

From there, you can select which content you’d like recommended at the end of your video, add a CTA, include a custom image, and so much more. Get the full download on end screens here.

Capture email everywhere

Vimeo video email capture form

Vimeo Business, Premium, and Enterprise users can place contact forms at any point before, during, or after their embedded video. (Don’t worry, you can give your viewers the options to opt-out of the form, if you so choose.)

You can also set these forms to capture all kinds of information (viewer email, company, industry, areas of interest, etc.) then sync that info directly into the email provider of your choice Mailchimp, HubSpot, and Constant Contact, to name a few. You can learn more about the power of contact forms here.

Add mobile-friendly cards

Vimeo’s unobtrusive, notification-style cards allow Vimeo Business, Premium, and Enterprise users to boost engagement without distracting viewers. You can insert as many cards as you need, to any page you want, at any point in your embedded video. (Did we mention the sleek, organic design perfectly pairs with the player?) 

Each card starts with a headline, and you can add a link, description, and thumbnail, too. They’re perfect for linking to your website, merch pages, crowdfunding campaigns, or just a helpful note.

And since mobile traffic makes up the majority of video views, we optimized cards for embedding on iOS, Android, Facebook, Twitter, and pretty much everywhere else.

Putting it all together

Having control over every detail of embedded videos is important to us because it’s important to our creators. We want things to be as easy and effective as possible, which is why your video stats page includes impression and engagement stats for your interaction tools.

Eventually, we anticipate interactive video to gain more traction video industry, especially as the world of VR and AR grows in ubiquity and sophistication. Plus, it’s easily trackable and provides more meaningful data than “video starts” and “finishes.”

Phew! That’s a lot of us talking. Now, it’s all back to you: start customizing away, generating more leads, and growing your business. Not a Vimeo Pro or above user? It’s easy to get started. 

Up your videos’ interactivity today

Editorial note: This piece was originally written in 2017. Updated in 2021.