London Transmedia Fest 2012

The London Transmedia Fest event has concluded, with one day of branding and storytelling in focus and another day with the Future Media Bootcamp (where I talked a bit on new funding models), a TV Hackathon and an Immersive Writing Lab.

On Friday it became quite apparent that there is a very tangible interest in transmedia storytelling, not least among the marketing crowd. And it’s no surprise; utilizing transmedia storytelling methods when working on content – be it together with a brand or not – simply makes sense. It forces a creator to examine the subject at hand in great detail, document all aspects of it and thereby gain new inspiration and see new ways to offer entry points to the audience and engage them as participants and co-creators, fostering engagement and establishing loyalty towards the content and/or the brand.

Friday kicked off with Ogilvy talking about brands and storytelling. I will readily admit, I think they have gotten a lot of things right. The showcases were for the most part pretty awe-inspiring, beautifully produced and very well designed to cater for an increasingly sceptic audience’s appetite. At the same time, it’s not so much about creating what I’d call ”true transmedia”, it’s still about marketing, only now with a greater understanding of where the intended target groups actually are nowadays. There is quite a lot of talk about story worlds, about deeper narrative… but in the end, it’s most often ”just” a campaign, only a lot fancier and on more platforms than before. And I’m not judging anyone now, I believe it’s a great step forward for marketing to go into storytelling more than ”just” witty ad spots, but at the same time it could be so much more.

The BBC also impressed with their numbers for the Olympics – all online streams had more than 100k views, 12 million people watched the Olympics on mobile etc – but in my book that’s still not really transmedia storytelling; enabling people to watch the same events on a number of platforms. I know there are people who are of the opinion that it is indeed transmedia; I guess it all comes down to your own definition of the term (once again).

A couple of other things that stuck in my mind was firstly the fact that Red Bull have been doing their thing so consistently and so well, that they now can start to reap some serious benefits. By going into the niche of extreme sports and – through their media house – creating brilliant content there, for a long period of time, they have now reached the point where they are breaking even on their content, and are looking to turn a profit next year. For a brand, that’s just awesome. Make your marketing material and have broadcasters / distributors pay you to feature it on their shows? Good work.

Secondly I was thrilled to hear that we might just be reaching a point where we’ll see a new pricing model for content on television, based not solely on ratings but on audience engagement as well – recording tweets, FB updates, ”buzz”, interaction etc, combining them with traditional ratings and coming up with new ways of pricing a show.

The Future Media Bootcamp saw some really good speakers on Day Two of the London Transmedia Fest. Matt Campion gave a great overview of where the money is in the digital age and how to best try to get hold of it. I spoke about funding from the POV of a creator/producer, citing our ”The Mill Sessions”-project as an example, and referring Jeff Gomez’ ”10 Commandments” post from last week as a checklist for anyone wanting to nurture their content in the best possible way. Chantal Rickards from MEC talked about branded entertainment, and I can’t but long for the kind of budgets they have to throw around. Some terms were actually new to me. It’s quite natural to understand that brands want to go from paid-for content, via owned content to the area where someone else writes about them and talks about them for free – ”buzz” as you would have it – but the importance of ”Brand in Hand” had eluded me (i.e. the practice of getting people to take your product in their hands, be it free soda bottles or tasters of youghurt or Nintendo controllers).

A little interlude was had after Utku Can’s (Mint Digital) and Rob Pratten’s (Conducttr / Transmedia Storytellers) interesting talks, when a small debate started, prompted by a question from the audience on the ethics of multiplatform and transmedia. Now, I get where they were coming from – there was precious little talk about ethical matters with regards to funding, sponsoring, data mining etc. I absolutely believe this is an area that should be explored further and discussed and hopefully agreed upon… but this was on the other hand perhaps not really the best venue for that.

The TV Hackfest also concluded – the winners were a team that had come up with a browser plugin called ”Don’t Tell Me!” that blacked out potential tv series spoilers from friends updates on Facebook. Pretty neat, althought similar stuff had been done before with babys vs kittens etc.

I won’t write about every single detail that happened, but for those inclined the back channel is up on Epilogger here. All in all, a couple of good days out at Ravensbourne college; hope that next time we’ll see some more truly innovative transmedia examples!

11 thoughts on “London Transmedia Fest 2012

  1. Hey Simon
    I agree with you on the lack of great Transmedia examples, and that true Transmedia (that of telling one story across platforms) is getting taken over by Franchises and Marketing and other “Wonderful” forms of “Transmedia Marketing”
    Over in Storyworld I had a similar argument, that what is being lost here is the word story (not branding but story) – and that we have all moved into the financial models, without actually getting work out there.
    I know of so many projects that have been “launched” but have stopped because they’re waiting for TV broadcasters or advertising agencies to give them money! Why can’t we all just get out there and do it?
    Maybe I’m as guilty as everyone, but I don’t want to lose the word Transmedia -because I think it’s good. But I do think that people need to rethink their projects as Multiplatform or Multimedia
    I don’t know if that makes sense – the text box kept on resizing itself!
    Laters buddy

    • Absolutely Rhys; even though I am very much in favor of attaining financial sustainability when it comes to any kind of project, it’s very obvious that we can’t forget the content or the story in all that. Instead, the financial model should rise from the story and the story world, at least in an ideal world.

      On the dilution of the term “transmedia”, I happen to like the term as well. There is, however, not much for us to do; we can’t ban people from using it, so there is not much more for us to do than smile and hang on for the ride and do our very best to create as much brilliant true transmedia stuff as possible, to show the way.

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