What it takes to be media agnostic

One of the core tenants of Transmedia Marketing is the development of a concept/story that is designed to be consumed across multiple media.  What I’ve come to realize is that there still seems to be some confusion between “media” and “platforms”.

> Some of this confusion is a result of industry evolution:  traditional media companies were often defined by the platform they used (newspapers delivered news via paper, television companies delivered entertainment via television, etc…) while newer media companies are an amalgamation of multiple platforms and/or media i.e., Google with YouTube

Here is my attempt to define the difference and why the difference matters.

1) “Media” refers to the consumer intent: watch a movie, read a story, play a game, share/contribute, learn the news, etc…

2) “Platform” refers to the manner in which the media is consumed: consumers can watch movies on their television, iphone or in a movie theater.

If we design a story for PLATFORMS, then we run the risk of creating a very mono-dimensional story, and getting lost in technical fads and operational processes.

>  YES, telling a story in a movie theater requires very different specs and technical considerations than the same story told via hulu, but in both instances, the consumer intent is to watch a movie.

>  YES, the interface on a news company’s web site should be different than the interface on a mobile site, but whether on web or mobile the consumer intent is still the same – learn the news.

If we design a story FIRST for different media THEN for different platforms we have the opportunity to create truly engaging, interactive and viral stories.



Create, Collaborate and Critique: Stages of Development

For the last ten years I’ve been saying: everyone can critique, but few can create.

This was a useful mantra for helping my product development teams get through the mire and pain of “executive feedback” which usually includes tons of opinions but teaspoonfuls of useful input.  Now I’m  in a position of developing content vs products, but my mantra remained the same.

However, I recently realized that I was skipping a step: collaboration.    I think my “skip” was actually a Freudian slip – I knew it existed, and I practiced it, but I sublimated this step into my sub-conscience because it is a grey area that exists between the seed of creation and the pruning of critique and because it is so difficult to define. Here are the stages of development that I am now using:

Creation is a singular activity.  Collaboration is a small group activity. Critique is for the masses.

  • When I say “creation is singular” I don’t mean only individuals can create (although there is a body of thought that supports this position), rather I mean “singular vision”.  Creation is both fragile and dynamic.  Singular vision during the creative stage allows the idea to coalesce, whereas too much friction can lead to an implosion.  Creation occurs best alone or with like-minded people.
  • Collaboration requires high levels of trust and selective diversity.  Some of my best experiences with collaboration have occurred with people who came to a similar conclusion from a different angle.  Our vision was the same, but HOW we reached it was very different, and it is in those differences that we found the opportunities for refinement.  Too much diversity during the early stages is usually more dilutive vs additive (and yes, I made up the word dilutive, but I really like it – so it stays.)
  • Critiquing is the pruning shear, large grit sandpaper, chisel and  hammer.  It shapes the idea into something more useful and fruitful than an idea left in the hothouse of like-mindedness, but if introduced too early in the process it can kill the idea.

My litmus test for “truth” is: does this principle apply to multiple areas?  if so, then it is a principle vs a preference.  Fortunately for me, I see the principles of creation, collaboration and critiquing in both nature (plant a seed – water and fertilize during development – prune when it hits a level of maturity) and family (2 people make the child, a family raises the child, the world shapes the child.  Exposing a child too early to the public forum of criticism may not kill the child – but often times seriously messes them up.)

In transmedia marketing, a key step is the inclusion of your audience into the creative process.  When should they be added? I think fans are added during collaboration, but the masses during critique.  The challenge here is; where are your fans (e.g. like minded people) and what is an efficient method of collaborating?  Things to be considered in a future post.

What do you think?  Am I stretching a preference into a principle or is this really a good way to view the development process?  Critiques are now welcome 🙂

Binge-viewing is transforming the television experience

Dawn C. Cheimlewski Services like Netflix and Hulu let fans watch multiple episodes or even entire seasons of shows all at once, giving life to new series such as ‘House of Cards.’

A couple of comments about this article:

1) We gotta find a better term than “binge viewing” to describe the phonomena of vwatching multiple hours of a single tv series.  We don’t call it binge reading when we read a complete book during a single week-end, it’s just reading.  And, as a life-long reader, I can testify to the fact that binge viewing provides the same satisfaction that was previously only received when reading: complete immersion in a story, a culture, a character or an event.  So, instead of binge viewing, let’s call it “immersive viewing.”

2) Immersive viewing is changing advertising.  Consumers who subscribe to a viewing service (Netflix) or buy a DVD series don’t want to be interrupted by commercials.  An obvious fact, but important to highlight because commercials are one way in which the entertainment industry generates profit on this content.  No commercials, less profit – UNLESS, “commercials” simply become part of the content.

When advertising goes from interuption to integration everyone profits:

> the audience is exposed to commercially available products or services within the context of a story that they value

> the “advertiser” reaches their audience during periods of attentiveness and concentration

> the content producers are able to make a livelihood from creating beautiful stories. 

Immersive viewing is driving the adoption of integrated advertising, which will lay the foundation for t-commerce.  And, I think it will all be here faster than we expect. 

See on www.latimes.com

The End of TV as We Know It and The Birth of Transmedia

The attached presentation is from Doug Scott and Matt Doherty at Ogilvy Media.

Here is an excerpt from the slide share posting:
“Throughout history, we have told stories. Stories are what connect us across geographies, cultures and experiences; stories demonstrate that we share the same hope, dreams, fears, challenges and desires. Today’s complex, digtally connected consumer universe makes brand storytelling more challenging, but also creates opportunities for brands to tell their stories in new ways.

Doug Scott and Matt Doherty discussed how the idea of TV might be a thing of the past, but the stories that drive our content will always be our constant. Our variable? Telling. Telling has evolved due to the primary role of digital in our lives and disruptive innovation which has given us the ability to craft transmedia experiences. Transmedia has brought a bought a new set of creative tools and narratives that are rooted in content, formed by context and crossed by all things culture.”

I appreciate how the authors mix storytelling for entertainment and branded storytelling into the same presentation path .  This meshes with my view of what marketing will look like in 10 years.  We’ll go from interruption to integration, from “sponsor” to “story contributor” and from a disconnected purchase path to instant commerce:  I saw it, I bought it.

The implications for marketers are huge, and also very exciting.

You can also see this presentation on http://www.slideshare.net/OgilvyWW/the-end-of-tv-as-we-know-it-the-birth-of-transmedia

USA Network Brings Advertisers into Its Social TV Journey

Excerpt from eMarketer’s interview with Jesse Redniss;

eMarketer: USA Network launched its own social platform, Character Chatter, two years ago. How have brands gotten involved in that platform?

Redniss: The Character Chatter platform has become the central hub for real-time participation while our shows are on. It’s an aggregation of real-time conversation from Facebook, Twitter, YouTube videos, Get Glue check-ins, Viggle check-ins; it continues to gain a lot of momentum and popularity. A lot of other networks are launching very similar community-building platforms. CBS just announced its CBS Connect platform, for example. We’re trying to bring brand advertisers into the conversation. When the Ford Fusion, for example, is integrated into an episode of “White Collar,” it’s then easy for us to promote that positioning or brand integration in platforms like Character Chatter. When working with advertisers we take a “created with” approach. We don’t want people to view something as an ad, we want people to view it as added content to their “White Collar” show experience.

(Tina) Redniss, and USA get it: marketing is moving from interuption to integration.  This requires marketers to understand stories and storytelling in order to facilitate the inclusion of the brand’s story into the character’s story.  Such a beautiful thing.

Read more at http://www.emarketer.com/Article.aspx?id=1009272&R=1009272#8QS8bx8Usg0LhRfi.99

See on www.emarketer.com

5 reasons Myspace is making a comeback

(Excerpt from the article)

“There’s a need for a place where fans can go to interact with their favorite entertainers, listen to music, watch videos, share and discover cool stuff, and just connect,” Timberlake said at a news conference. “Myspace has the potential to be that place. Art is inspired by people and vice versa, so there’s a natural social component to entertainment. I’m excited to help revitalize Myspace by using its social media platform to bring artists and fans together in one community.”

5 reasons why Myspace is making a comeback:

  1. A new focus
  2. An ever-changing audience
  3. A much needed retooling
  4. A musical advantage
  5. A whole new attitude
IMO, Myspace is another example of the power of building a social platform for a like-minded community.  This is also the basis for Pinterests success, and the reason why Google+ has yet to hit a homerun.  Google is trying to be a generalist vs a specialist.
I go to Pinterest to hang-out with my chickie friends, Facebook for family, Linked-in for past/current co-workers, twitter for like-minded news/event junkies.
How about you?

See full article on www.imediaconnection.com

Marketers Challenged to Keep Pace with Mobile, Social (eMarketer Report)

Top 3 factors that are the biggest challenge to marketers :

1) Growth of channel and device choices

2) Customer collaberation and influence

3) Financial constraints /ROI accountability

eMarketer’s core take away from this data is that marketers are challenged to keep pace with proliferation of mobile & social tech, and therefore need to work more closely with tech groups.

As a counterpoint I add the following thought:  the proliferation of channels, media, tech, etc… requires the development of transmedia marketers: storytellers, technical generalists (and sometimes specialists!) and community enablers.

Full article from eMarketer here:  http://www.emarketer.com/Article.aspx?R=1009167&ecid=a6506033675d47f881651943c21c5ed4

See on www.emarketer.com

What is Transmedia?

Recently, I tried to explain the concept of “transmedia storytelling” to some marketing friends.  I eventually drew this image on my whiteboard.  It gives a simplified view of the evolution from multimedia to transmedia and helps convey the ideas of “story elements” and “social participation”.

In marketer-speak “story elements” are like “message maps”.  Since marketers create message maps, sound-bites, speaking points, etc… we can easily grasp the concept of story elements.  Where transmedia breaks the mold is the idea that the story elements are designed to tell a single story across all media.  Today, many marketing orgs are very silo’d and story elements are developed that do not roll-up into a coherent story.  The idea of starting with a single story and then breaking it into elements for multiple media is a slight paradigm shift.

The real  “a-ha” moment is the concept of social participation.  Marketers may conceptualize the brand story and develop the story elements.  But the story that exists in the marketplace is a combination of what marketers say AND what the market says.  Unfortunately, many marketers try to control the brand story by keeping “social participation” in its own silo.   With transmedia, marketers don’t control the story – they enable the story.  They give story elements to the market.  They encourage the market to add, embellish, and play with the elements and then they bring some of those “market created” elements into the official brand story.  By enabling the market to contribute to the story, marketers create a sense of brand ownership which leads to brand fans.  Brand fans are a good thing 🙂

Let me know what else you would add!

eBay’s Second Screen App – Getting Closer to Compulsive Shopper Nirvana

Late last year eBay entered the 2nd screen market.  Below is a video demo of their app.   Great concept, but still missing a key component:  the ability to purchase the actual clothes, housewares, books or gadgets that I’ve just seen on the screen.  Maybe not the original item – but at least a similar item made by the same product maker.

This highlights the importance of the content producers and/or transmedia producers in the eco-system of 2nd screens. Finding sponsors and/or partners for products in the show and then tagging the media is not something easily done as an afterthought.  Fantastic costumes in your show?  I bet there is someone who would produce contemporized/street ready versions.  Cool gadgets?  The maker communities are alive and flourishing.   However, this eco-system needs to be created earlier in the process – possibly during the development phase.

Although this means more work and complexity up-front, it eventually turn into a win-win for everyone:  consumers  purchase the products they’ve actually seen and want, content producers develop an additional revenue stream (i.e., a portion of the sales  revenue) and the product creators get additional exposure and revenues.  Win-win-win.

Ebay brings us close to this shopper’s nirvana, but not quite there.