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June 29, 2011 / davebirss

Notes from this morning’s DBA talk on Transmedia

If you didn’t make it to the DBA breakfast event this morning, here’s the next best thing. Just grab yourself a croissant and a coffee and pretend you’re surrounded by lots of uber-talented, yawning designers. If you did make it this morning, thank you kindly – and here are a few reminders.

The old approach to integration sucks. Matching luggage may have worked when we lived in a time where we controlled our media – either by buying advertising space or creating our own media. But we no longer live in an environment we control. And we now have such a plethora of media options available that it’s harder to manage than ever before. The control-freak (or downright lazy) approach of demanding visual consistency is dying. It’s far more important to be strategically coherent and have everything working towards the same goal. This isn’t a new message – but surprisingly few marketing people have actually adopted it.

Transmedia is not anything new either – but it’s being talked about more and more in the marketing world. So what is it? I’ll leave that to the godfather of Transmedia, Henry Jenkins, to describe it:

“Transmedia storytelling represents a process where integral elements of a fiction get dispersed systematically across multiple delivery channels for the purpose of creating a unified and coordinated entertainment experience. Ideally each medium makes its own unique contribution to the unfolding of the story.”

OK, it does sound a bit dry and academic. So here are a number of principals that describe a good transmedia approach:

  • Every piece of content adds to the whole
  • Each media channel is used for its strength
  • Each individual part is self-contained so that it doesn’t rely on the whole
  • Users can enter the story from any channel
  • It can be different things to different audiences
  • Good experiences will create communities
  • Even better experiences will allow the audience to be involved in the story

Transmedia stories first appeared in the entertainment world. But people are now looking at how the approach can be applied to marketing. The truth, however, is that a transmedia approach doesn’t suit every job – or every brand. Let’s be blunt – who actually wants to delve deeper into the world of GoCompare? Or immerse themselves in the story of an everyday carpet cleaner. F**k. Right. Off.

However, there are some parts of the transmedia approach that can be applied to a lot of briefs:

  1. Look for the story in a product or brand
  2. Think beyond media choices to creating an experience
  3. Use each media channel for what it does best
  4. Create an experience that involves your audience
  5. Create an experience that evolves with your audience

I hope this rapid download is helpful in some way. If you want more information, you can always book me to speak 😉

I’ll be doing a workshop on July 19th that puts the principals into practice and looks more closely at how to create a transmedia campaign. Keep an eye on the DBA site for tickets.

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