Knowledge is just a clik away

San Francisco-based interactive media and audience measurement company Clikthrough has transformed engagement with online video.

By Rosie Lavan

Hot spots in each frame allow users to click through discover more

Through enabling the hyperlinking of objects, Clikthrough allows viewers to click on items in a video frame and access further information instantly.

In partnership with the British label Phonogenic Records, Clikthrough launched in 2009 with the video for the single Breakeven by The Script. The 255-second video contained 242 so-called “product hotspots”. Viewers could “clik” on the artists’ clothes and go through to the appropriate site to buy them. A clik on the Mercedes led to a car dealership site; one on the pub on Dublin’s waterfront in the background led to Aer Lingus to buy plane tickets to Ireland.

The idea first struck founder Abe McCallum in 2000, but he had to wait seven years for technology – and investment – to catch up. He says the service is based on three key words: engage, measure, monetise. Powered by encoding, the intuitive software is designed both to overcome the short attention spans of viewers of online video by enabling them to become part of it, and to tap into the digital video economy and make it deliver for content owners, advertisers and consumers.

“We view our technology as a framework that anybody can leverage to extract more information out of moving objects, which are generally very hard to track unless you are just developing pure video games,” McCallum explains.

Clikthrough’s own revenue comes from licensing its core video player, charging customers to encode videos and sharing in advertising profits with its partners. The player itself – lighter than YouTube’s – has been developed to ensure that it is easy to load for users. Its interactive model provides massive potential for data capture, and through Traffic Jam, its analytics package, total audience engagement can be measured down to a single frame.

Clikthrough is often seen as innovative product placement, but McCallum stresses there is much more to it. “What we really focus on is engagement. We can take stories and make them more interesting,” he says.

A key partnership with Euro RSCG, the leading global ad agency, on the Sony Playstation game MAG demonstrates this creative potential. Together they created a custom video game by applying Clikthrough’s technology to the futuristic Global News Network featured in MAG.

“In that project it’s a totally different process than typical commerce because there’s really nothing to buy,” McCallum explains. Instead, gamers can click through from any item or location mentioned in the news reports to explore the roots of the epic battle. Clikthrough’s involvement enabled a global release, supporting translation into 18 languages.

“From a creative perspective we feel that we can really extend the story more effectively for internet creators, because they are telling the story in a very linear fashion,” he says. “What we want to do is add the additional flair and make people say, ‘Hey, I’m intrigued, I want to learn a little bit more about that now.’”

Key partners

Phonogenic Records

Elle magazine

AïX Armani Exchange


Products available from 147 brands, including Dior, Fender and Mercedes-Benz

Twenty artists have made videos with Clikthrough, including Eminem, Lady Gaga and Black Eyed Peas

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