Transmedia, Branding and Marketing

In Part I and Part II of this blog series we outlined the basics of Transmedia storytelling, as it pertains to entertainment, and how technology is helping to shape the way we consume story across multiple platforms.  The Transmedia approach is also fast becoming popular with brands because the rules of marketing, advertising and PR are evolving in favor of the consumer. People don’t want to be talked at or “sold”. Some might argue that it’s not that people don’t want to be advertised to, but rather, we don’t want to experience bad advertising. I would argue that, good or bad, people simply don’t have time for anything that isn’t relevant to them on a very personal level. Additionally, brands are realizing they need to take a more educational approach with their messaging and the Transmedia storytelling methods are the best way to educate and engage people.

Simply put, the multi-platform narrative organically encourages people to feel empowered in an authentic way because it delivers story where people are consuming content and completely on their terms. While Transmedia is certainly going to be playing a leading role with branding and marketing, here are a few key challenges brands and agencies are facing with respect to this new paradigm:

  • there are so many touch points where people enter and exit a narrative or messaging; TV, Internet, gaming, live events, etc. that managing each one of these different touch points requires a team of professionals who live and breathe the brand and can ensure the narrative remains consistent.
  • the brand message/story must resonate and engage people on every platform. Not all campaigns require the use of every single form of distribution, so it’s critical for the creative team to be familiar with how people engage content on each platform.
  • the metrics for reporting ROI on each of these platforms and/or touch points are in a very nascent stage. We still don’t have a consistent way to measure how each of these platforms perform in the larger picture and this is crucial before brands will begin to distribute digital dollars evenly across all platforms.

Furthermore, managing a brand these days is no longer the job of a few key people, but the responsibility of an interdependent community of creative and technology professionals. Most brands and agencies don’t possess the internal manpower to fulfill these new capacities and will need to reach out to other entities for the next few years, while the Transmedia paradigm continues to move away from the fringe and into the mainstream.

While we wait for critical mass to take hold, we need to educate ourselves on the best ways to (1) effectively use, (2) monetize and (3) measure Transmedia storytelling methods. Looking at this shift from a global perspective, licensing brands and entertainment properties across multiple platforms will certainly prove to be challenging over the next few years as we sort things out. This is all the more reason to keep on eye on other global markets, who may not be challenged in this way, to see what exciting innovations emerge.

Transmedia Predictions (in no particular order)

  • Transmendia won’t always be just for the die-hard action fans or gear heads. Branding campaigns and entertainment properties will continue to drill down to the core audiences and target the hyper vigilant fans across all verticals. Writers like Aaron Sorkin (going well beyond the West Wing blog of 2006!) and Tony Kushner will contribute to intricate marketing campaigns that (a) utilize all forms of technology and (b) find interesting ways for their heady characters to engage with the audience.
  • All platforms will merge into one, superfluous network and can be accessed by anyone, at any given time – regardless of hardware. The idea of co-creating content, story, and messaging will be completely in the users’ hands at this point. While people will always want to be led by the nose from a creative standpoint, they will want take story points provided by creators and assemble their own worlds, interactive components and communities.
  • 3D and live events will become the cornerstones of all large, entertainment and marketing narratives within the Transmedia paradigm.
  • Transmedia storytelling will reshape the educational system. When (I’m telling you one of these days they will) project based teaching/learning becomes commonplace in the educational system, Transmedia storytelling will be used to help students master  difficult subjects. Additionally, as language in the global classroom evolves, teaching/learning will rely on advanced rich media like interactive video and storytelling.
  • Keep your eyes on Brazil, especially around the 2016 Olympics. This region is plowing full speed into the world of Transmedia storytelling and the kids coming up there today will be a force to be reckoned with in the near future.

Regardless of where you hang your hat, everyone loves a great story. Continuing to educate your clients, staying abreast of advancing technologies and expanding your network of professionals who understand Transmedia, will help guide you to a happy ending.