Transmedia Rising – comments

The JWT report of transmedia as a trend – Transmedia Rising, downloadable here – is a good read and shows pretty well where we are right now, in the world of transmedia (which evolves at a dizzying pace, but then again, what doesn’t). The report does have branding and revenue as core elements in the report; on the other hand, no transmedia project can expect longevity without a sound business model at its core.

I did have some thoughts on a couple of the topics discussed in the post: creating the flow and digital natives. We say transmedia but in my mind we really need to think sansmedia; there is very little we can create or come up with within the borders of a project (short of true telepathy or something suchlike) that there is not a viable technical solution for, or one that can be invented. This is not to say that we should not look at platforms or tools while developing and writing, as these many times can work as inspirational material and enablers, rather than obstacles. But to start a project with the assumption that ”this will be a television, web portal and iPhone app-project” and let that assumption define the story, story world and transmedia experience, that’s just plain wrong. The digital natives experience their content without thinking about platforms or codes used, they just do it. So must our content, our stories, do. Furthermore, it really is not enough to come up with new ways to tell stories and technical solutions for it, if we do not find new ways to empower the audience and let them have their way with the content – but in a way that we as creators can still be OK with.

Coming, as I am, from the world of television (television formats to be precise), this is a process and a way of developing and producing that absolutely MUST be viewed with positive goggles on. It is far to easy to look at ones’ television documentary or drama and simply give up on getting to grips with the challenges of a many-faceted story world with multiple intertwining stories; it is equally far too easy to look at such a project from a traditional marketers’ point of view and simply long to go back to selling those 30 second ad spots for the sitcom you represent.

The reality is, of course, that this is true if one lets it be. I would suggest quite the opposite; that such a project would give a producer a multitude of ideas, that can get an audience to engage deeper and truer in a story and a story world, it can give the producer and the developer invaluable contacts to their core audience, it can lengthen the life span of the content many times over… it is building an exoskeleton of pure titanium on a hitherto lovely but limited story, enabling it to punch through the traditional storytelling walls and invite an audience to follow.

For the marketer the benefits are even clearer. As the story gain more aspects, more details, more spaces to occupy, so will the marketer gain more possibilities to connect to a brand, to reach customers, to advocate the content and thereby the associated brand(s).

To quote JWT’s report:

For marketers, this is an evolution of the integrated marketing model: Rather than a consistency across multiple touchpoints, the goal is for different channels to communicate different things (within the overarching strategy), with an emphasis on putting the brand community at the center

Now, substitute “marketers” for “storytellers”, “marketing model” for “storytelling model” and “brand community” for “narrative superstructure” and it is very obvious that these are two sides of the same coin.

The JWT report is a good sign that transmedia thinking and development is getting into more and more people’s minds in a good way. I for one am looking forward to what 2011 brings – a year that has already started magnificently.

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