wireWAX’s intelligent tags open up new worlds within video for storytellers, brands and individual users alike
By Rosie Lavan
wireWAX is a clickable video tool. The first of its kind to allow users to upload and tag their own videos, it has also been used in music videos and cinema trailers and by brands to enrich content and engage viewers.
The tool prides itself on being “intuitive and dynamic”. Intelligent tags allow users to place content within the original video – from images, links and other videos to geo-specific data, links to databases and Flash applications. Taking the idea of the video hotspot a step further, tags follow an object or person as they move through the frame. A video that has been given the wireWAX treatment can be shared on social networks or embedded on other sites and platforms and wireWAX is a premier technology partner with Brightcove. When videos are shared on external sites, all the tags and associated content remain intact. “One of the key points about what’s different about wireWAX,” explains co-founder and CEO Steve Callanan, “is that when you click on a tag everything that pops up happens in that frame, so that when you embed that video elsewhere it all goes with it.”
Callanan and Dan Garraway developed the first wireWAX prototype in 2008 through their work producing online content for brands. Callanan explains that with their clients they were keen to move away from “passive” video content. Efforts began with flash slideshows alongside videos, and wireWAX gradually grew from there. It has taken two years to develop a user interface around the tool.
“It was designed from the ground up to be completely independent and stand alone as a tool,” says Callanan. Anyone – individual user or commercial client – should be able to apply and incorporate their own material. The intention is for the basic wireWAX model to remain free for the general user, while turning the tool into a licensed product to which publishers and content owners would subscribe to develop their own material.
wireWAX was designed from the outset to incorporate metrics to chart and understand audience activity. Every viewer’s progress through a video is recorded, enabling users to replay each audience member’s journey and find out where they paused, skipped, clicked or shared. Additional tools identify a viewer’s location, operating system and language and show where they have chosen to embed or share a video.
wireWAX has won industry recognition, critical acclaim and some significant partners. Momentum Pictures, the UK film distributor, and its digital creative agency allcity approached wireWAX to create an interactive trailer for The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. In the “website within a video” characters and certain key objects were tagged, allowing viewers to click and access biographies and download exclusive content. A Facebook campaign which ran alongside the trailer allowed returning viewers to spot new objects in the videos, updated weekly, and gather clues with the promise of a prize at the end of the game. The campaign garnered an Innovation Award from the UK Film Council, and drew 80,000 views and 15,000 clicks.
Its work with singer-songwriter Laura Marling and EMI/Virgin records on her 2010 album I Speak Because I Can was no less innovative. wireWAX developed what it calls the “video listening post”: the video, shot in black and white, featured certain key objects in colour which were tagged to allow viewers to listen to different songs from Marling’s album or access exclusive extras. Select objects led to details of a competition, and every tag offered viewers the chance to pre-order and subsequently buy the album or embed the video elsewhere. This project was also accompanied by a Facebook campaign; it has so far drawn more than 33,000 views and 10,000 clicks, boosted the fan mailing list through contact details submitted on competition entries and bolstered pre-orders and direct sales for the album. It followed a highly successful project with EMI for The Kooks at Christmas 2009, in which 4,500 email addresses were collected through competition entries in three days; ordinarily it might take a year to generate a fan base of that size.
“Our ethos is to make the whole process as easy, pain free and streamlined as possible,” Callanan says. Exciting new developments are underway to support this aim. A face recognition facility will find faces in all uploaded videos and, for users who post their content on Facebook, will also automatically identify their Facebook friends who appear in the video. Callanan is also working on what would effectively be an apps store to enable people to drag and drop apps for partner affiliates into their videos – an Amazon app to tag featured books, for example, or an IMDB or Love Film app to tag an actor.
For storytellers and creative producers, Callanan sees particular potential for wireWAX in building non-linear narratives. “We have started playing with game-playing or role-playing sequences where you could click on a tag and it would take you to another video – it would pivot off, like a video pathway as you navigate through,” he says.
The tool is extremely attractive to advertisers, too, and it is well-positioned as the industry seeks a more effective alternative to pre-roll video ads. An average wireWAX video receives six clicks: a rate of engagement six times higher than a pre-roll could offer, let alone actually achieve.