All posts in “eko”

BuzzFeed teams up with Eko to create interactive recipes and other videos

BuzzFeed and Eko have been working together to create a wide range of interactive videos, and they began launching in the past week or so — starting with this Tasty potato recipe that allows you to customize your ingredients, revealing a bit about your personality in the process.

There’s also an interactive Tarot reading, a video quiz that determines what kind of dog you are and this customizable ramen video.

I spoke with BuzzFeed and Eko executives last week to learn more about how they’re working together, and where it might go next.

These videos feel pretty different from previous uses of Eko technology like “That Moment When,” which is more of a comedic, Choose Your Own Adventure-style story.

Eko’s Chief Creative Officer Alon Benari acknowledged that in the past, the company usually “started from a traditional video and injected interactivity into it.” But while “this is one of first projects where we did the other path” – namely, taking an interactive format like a quiz and introducing video — the focus is still on “bringing together the best of both worlds.”

“This isn’t a direction change,” added Vice President of Business Development Ivy Sheibar. “We have a full pipeline of what you would consider coming more from traditional video.”

As for BuzzFeed, Chief Marketing Officer Ben Kaufman suggested that this is a natural extension of the publisher’s strategy to experiment with new formats. By offering this kind of interactivity, BuzzFeed can tailor videos to their viewers’ needs and interests (for example, by customizing video recipes based on dietary restrictions)  while also “allowing our audience to engage with our videos and create data feedback loops.”

In addition to providing the technical platform to create these videos, Kaufman said Eko’s team also shared important insights from years of experience with interactivity.

“One of the things they trained us on was what the meaning of a meaningful choice was — [a choice] where actually as an audience member you would take that to heart and makes you feel like, ‘This video is really made for me,’” he said.

Kaufman added that as BuzzFeed and Eko continue rolling out different types of interactive videos, “Our goal in the next few weeks is to crack this, to build a real deep audience connection, see what they are loving and go heavy into scaling that.”

Walmart is working with Eko to create interactive content

Walmart and Eko announced a partnership this morning to create a joint venture for interactive content called W*E Interactive Ventures.

The best example of the interactivity that Eko enables is probably “That Moment When,” a comedy web series that the startup created last year in partnership with Sony. In a series of short videos, you take on the role of Jill, a young-ish woman struggling to get her life together — the viewer decides what Jill says and also plays mini-games to help her achieve her goals.

According to the announcement, W*E content will include a variety of formats like cookings shows and interactive toy catalogues.

Eko CEO Yoni Bloch said they aren’t announcing any specific shows yet, but they will be “free and distributed everywhere,” and will be united by an aim to make the viewer “be the hero, be a part of the decision-making in the story.” The plan is to start releasing this content sometime next year.

Walmart might not seem like the most obvious partner on something like this, but the company has been expanding into digital media with efforts like Vudu (it just announced a partnership with MGM) and, more recently, Walmart eBooks.

Bloch said the deal also includes a Walmart investment of undisclosed size into Eko. Apparently the joint venture will work primarily as “the funding vehicle” for this new content, with Walmart staying out of the creative decisions.

“Walmart has been an incredible partner, allowing us to have creative control, which we are passing on to the creators,” Bloch said.

Tribeca Productions co-founder Jane Rosenthal will serve as strategic advisor to W&E Interactive Ventures, and Eko Chief Media Officer Nancy Tellem will be on the board.

“Our partnership with Eko will help us accelerate efforts to deepen relationships with customers and connect with new audiences in innovative ways and is one part of an overall entertainment ecosystem we’re building,” said Scott McCall, senior vice president for entertainment, toys and seasonal at Walmart U.S, in the announcement.