- Walmart announced a joint venture with Eko, an interactive video technology developer, that includes plans to create original, interactive content, according to a news release.
- Content could range from cooking shows to interactive toy catalogs and would let viewers participate in and shape stories as they're told. The venture, which will be known as W*E Interactive Ventures, will be led by Yoni Bloch, Eko's CEO, with Tribeca Productions co-founder Jane Rosenthal serving as strategic adviser.
- Walmart has previously provided funding for Eko and agreed to participate in the developer's next round of funding as part of the venture.
Walmart's venture with Eko signals that the retailer continues to expand its offerings beyond commerce and enhance its entertainment network. Walmart is locked in a rivalry with Amazon on a number of fronts, and delving into interactive video could intensify the competition. The move could also help Walmart provide more unique, personalized experiences and deepen relationships with consumers, helping the retailer build brand loyalty. The effort is also likely to be tied to commerce, as well, with viewers able to purchase items showcased in an interactive cooking show or toy catalog.
The news of the joint venture follows Walmart's announcement this week that its video streaming platform Vudu is planning a new shoppable video ad format for its free, ad-supported Movies On Us service, letting viewers purchase from Walmart.com. Vudu is also partnering with MGM on the development of original shows based on franchises from the studio's film and TV portfolio, with the first short-form series on Movies On Us scheduled for 2019.
As marketers continue to invest in video content, many see the addition of interactive storytelling elements like choose-your-own-adventure as an opportunity to enhance creativity and boost engagement. Marketers are also striving to meet consumers' growing demands for more personalization in marketing, but often struggle to get the messaging right.
Eko previously partnered with MGM on #WarGames, an interactive, re-imagined version of MGM’s 1983 film. The series was available on Eko's platforms and Vudu. Viewers can shape the story by clicking on video feeds of each character to add different perspectives to the story. Some cast members filmed themselves with smartphones and webcams to place viewers in the action. The show also tracks viewers' choices and notes their interest to create personalized experiences.