Which peanut butter do you prefer on a PB&J: smooth or crunchy?

This is one of the deep questions that eko’s VP of Data & Insights, Amiel Shapiro, can’t help but ask as he dives into the data for the team’s latest project: Interactive Tasty. The new series, being developed in partnership with BuzzFeed, is a twist on the Tasty’s iconic recipe videos, where instead of just watching a recipe come together, the viewer can decide which ingredients to use and create a finished dish that is customized to their tastes.

Amiel Shapiro “Our goal is to build a community around choice-driven entertainment and understanding how users are engaging with our content is key to making the experiences as captivating as possible,”

Amiel Shapiro says.

Interactive Tasty is eko’s first food-based interactive experience in partnership with BuzzFeed’s Tasty, the largest global social food network. But eko began with a purpose far removed from American kitchen tables. Israeli musician Yoni Bloch, now CEO, and his bandmates initially developed their interactive technology as a way to give their fans more control while watching their music videos. As interest in the technology grew, the company expanded with offices in New York City and Tel Aviv, and began creating content in other genres, including interactive comedy That Moment When and drama series War Games. eko is now producing a wide range of new experiential and series-based entertainment content, scheduled to go live through 2019 and 2020.

Creating compelling interactive experiences with meaningful choices is a complex art form. Each choice point is a fork in the road, both for the user, but also for the show production and technology teams that make the experience possible. The more choices a user makes, the more divergent the paths become. Each of the new Interactive Tasty recipes have up to 16 possible outcomes depending on the user choices. That’s 16 different pre-recorded Tasty videos, for each recipe. (For more on how Interactive Tasty was produced, read this Q&A with eko Creative Director Marli Sharlin).

Of course, some choices are inherently more popular than others, and depending on your decisions, you could either end up on a well-trodden path or watching a video that few other viewers have seen before. Amiel Shapiro, a guitarist, songwriter and interactive video analytics expert who has been with eko for six years, has been exploring the choices that users make in the new Tasty series.

“One of the questions I had with our first episode, PB&J, was which choice had the clearest ‘winning answer’. As an Israeli who had never eaten a PB&J sandwich until last month, I was a bit surprised to learn it wasn’t smooth vs crunchy, or grape vs strawberry, but actually the seemingly mundane choice of whether to slice the sandwich into triangles or cut the crusts off.”

Most media companies typically look at a few key metrics when judging the success of their video content: total views, watch time, how many videos watched per session. eko’s interactive player, however, adds a new layer into the equation: “nodes”. When a user makes a choice, they are presented with a different node of streaming video. The total amount of views on each of these nodes, is calculated to understand which choices are the most popular. From a content perspective, understanding how users reacted to choice within an experience can provide valuable insights for developing future storylines and scripts.

“With binary choices, we feel that generally the best ones are where the data is split around 60/40,” Amiel says.

“A completely meaningless choice would often present a 50/50 result, whereas if one of the options gets over 75%, it is a no-brainer for most users. Tough choices that engage your brain and draw you in, tend to land in the 60/40 sweet spot.

“However, you have to be cautious with just looking at the data. It’s crucial to look at the choice itself and do some qualitative thinking before presenting an insight”.

Some of the “tougher” choices within Interactive Tasty: PB&J include the hotly-debated crunchy vs smooth peanut butter, which saw smooth take the edge over crunchy, based on data from more than 100,000 choices. Within the Interactive Tasty: Sangria recipe, the viewers were confronted with another classic choice: red wine vs white wine. Somewhat surprisingly, white wine won, beating out the traditional red for Sangria.

For Amiel Shapiro, the simple A/B choice results are interesting, but it’s only scratching the surface. Deeper insights can be formed by examining the compounded effect of multiple choices within an experience.

“For example, people who choose white wine and then frozen in our Sangria recipe, are far more likely to go on to pick rum as their base spirit. It’s this sort of deeper data that we’re finding the most interesting and relevant when it comes to improving our consumer offering,” Amiel says.

“In some of our upcoming shows we’re also planning to integrate this data into the experience itself, letting the viewer know whether their choice was in the minority or the majority. Our goal is to build a community around choice-driven entertainment and understanding how users are engaging with the content is key to making the experiences as captivating as possible.”

Catch up on Interactive Tasty recipes (and make your choice count) by visiting the series page here. New recipes are being released all summer.