With "Touchable Video," Brands See What Consumers Want To Buy

Cinematique takes a unique approach to e-commerce with a streaming player that tracks the objects viewers touch when watching a TV show or video.

Retailers already know that videos can drive engagement, increase brand awareness, and convert viewers into shoppers. Now, in order to create an immersive viewing experience that leads to more sales, one streaming startup has built a "touchable video" platform.

Based in Los Angeles and New York City, Cinematique has built a video player that tracks what viewers "touch"--taps on a touch-screen device or mouse clicks on a computer--while watching TV shows, music videos, and branded videos. The objects are then bookmarked and saved to a "boutique" that can be purchased or shared with friends online. Bootstrapped since its founding in 2012, today Cinematique announced it has raised $800,000, and that Sir John Hegarty, cofounder of the advertising agency Bartle Bogle Hegarty, has joined its board.

"For content creators, not only does [Cinematique] allow them to monetize the viral spread of their videos, it also allows them to use the analytics, which are more powerful than regular video analytics, to decide which parts of the campaign are successful, to see which parts users want to re-engage, and how to go forward," cofounder Randy Ross tells Fast Company.

Cinematique has roots in advertising and filmmaking. Ross began his career in advertising before directing commercials, and his cofounder Kyle Heller is a self-taught developer and film producer. "We've been learning how to build films and what sort of thing inspires people to reach out and touch," Ross says.

An example of Cinematique's player embedded on a brand page, with items from a user's "boutique" shown above.Image: Cinematique

Retailers and tech companies have been trying to locate the Holy Retail Grail that is shoppable video for years. For this year's Super Bowl, H&M ran a TV ad that allowed viewers on Samsung's Smart TV to buy products directly from their remotes. Google has also experimented with shoppable videos. Last year it launched a "channel gadget" that let viewers find featured products in how-to videos across different retailers online. An earlier example of a shoppable YouTube video was seen with Juicy Couture, which in 2012 debuted a video that alerted viewers to items available for purchase with a box outline. When clicked upon, the box paused the video and opened up the retailer's product page.

Since its launch last July, Cinematique said users have spent 250% to 350% more time watching videos on its streaming platform compared with non-interactive online videos, "touching" products between 2.5 to 3.5 times a video. So far the company has worked with 60 brands, which have seen an 8% to 13% conversion rate, the percentage of views that lead to sales.

Cinematique's video player on the iPhone.Image: Cinematique

"When you catalog the interior of video, you open up and create a multitude of data points," says Ross. For instance, he notes, brands can learn that, "People love the fact that this celebrity was in this video because of how many times they touched [him or her]."

With this first round of funding under its belt, the nine-person company aims to expand its technology to new verticals, educate customers on its platform, and accelerate hiring. "We'll continue to iterate moving forward because we believe we're just at the beginning of a new piece of the cinematic language right now," Ross says, "which is the ability for people to take part in content."

[Image: Flickr user Martin Voltri]

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