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The Transmedia Approach

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 · 
September 19, 2011
 · 
4 min read

Integration is chaos.  With so many agency / channel specialists – clients waste a ton of money paying for redundancies in their big agency fees.  Furthermore, when Kellogg wrote the textbook on marketing integration years ago, I know that what they describe in their scenario planning was not what marketers are attempting to pass off as an integrated marketing plan.

Today, 'Integrated Marketing' is defined as a multi-channel plan using the same message across all channels.  What we know now is that one size does not fit all! The same message or conversation doesn’t work in all media channels.  We know customers behave and consume media differently in each channel and therefore often impressions are wasted.

All brands have a story to sell
While I create television spots, banner ads, mobile apps and websites, I do not believe that individually they can convey a brand’s story or experience.  Nor should we be attempting to try and shove years of innovation into 30 seconds.  It’s plain silly.  In this Post Digital economy, we have the tools, data and know-how to create smarter marketing and engaging brand stories.

Story-selling & Transmedia
Ten years ago, I began a building brand plans based on behavioral insights, media opportunities, and storytelling.  I began calling it Experience Planning. In reality it was Transmedia Planning.   

The basic premise of transmedia is that rather than using different media channels to simply retell the same story, you utilize these channels, their communities and functions to communicate different elements of the story.  Its success relies on fragmenting a narrative and making each platform do what it does best which, in turn, extends the life and longevity of the story.  Contrary to some thinking, this practice isn’t device-driven (Television, Laptop, Kindle, Nook, iPad), but is platform driven as it is the platform that subtly dictates and influences audience reactions, social and behavioral trends and user experiences.   The bottom line is that with a solid transmedia strategy in place everything remains connected by the same central narrative and theme, but each channel excels at what it does best, rather than bending to fit a central idea that’s being repurposed for multi platforms.

Building Brand Experiences with Transmedia Plans
With storytelling at the heart of our business model it’s not surprising that our entertainment and lifestyle clients were some of the first to embrace a transmedia approach. In fact, when working on the Matrix Film Franchise with Joel Silver Pictures in 2001, we used a transmedia approach to connecting our story in film, games and on the web.  We did this to create a story that can only be experienced by engaging with all of the different forms of content. The result, warner bros began using this as a way to put “butts in seats” for years to come.

Once we saw the success of the plan and method we saw it as an opportunity to test the same method to sell brand stories, just the way entertainment properties sell content.
 
Could it work in consumer-packaged goods?
Yes. Here is an example of a transmedia plan we created for Knob Creek.

Screen Shot 2011-09-18 at 4.44.43 PM

Could it work on Financial Services? 
Yup! Here is an example of how we used in at Chase.

Screen Shot 2011-09-18 at 4.50.04 PM

 

Could it work for a big box retailer? 
Sure it can! Here is a sample of how we used transmedia planning to create a new retail experience for do it yourselfers.

Screen Shot 2011-09-18 at 4.48.24 PM

 

What we were doing began to catch on, as we have seen a new crop transmedia story-telling companies emerge.  Some of are some of my favorite examples:

Transmedia + Communities
Now that people are powerful media channels on social media platforms like facebook, twitter and google+, a transmedia approach to selling your brand’s story couldn’t be more important.  In the post-digital world, meeting awareness objectives is more complex than running the same spot on TV, YouTube and in pre-roll. In order to have real-time conversations, you have to tell / sell and engage people in a story that is worth repeating.

The latest evolution of the approach is called ARG (alternate reality games). ARG includes a gaming element and encourages community participation. Real world examples of this type of Transmedia planning can be experienced with content properties like: Why So Serious?, the ARG for Batman: The Dark Knight and I Love Bees, the ARG for the Halo 2 game.  We used ARG when we took Dibs to teens.

In a world where creativity is measured by performance, this is an approach we know works.  The greatest part of all of living and working in the post-digital era is that the data and tools exist to create highly targeted transmedia plans that create measurable earned media for a brand.

Does your brand need a social data-driven transmedia plan?  Contact @substanceNYC or shoot us your marketing objectives to newbiz [@] wearesubtance dot com

The Transmedia Approach via @jpenabickley
Comments
@Steve,
the point of these plans is not to get them at every touch point. it is the difference between 360 degrees of interruption vs. creating 365 days of why a people will select, use and recommend your brand.
Do they all have the energy? The ones with the most interest do.
Don’t they just want to hear benefits and value propositions from subject matter experts? not without an entertaining yet relevant context.
Really great, clever plans, but how many consumers really care about pretend searches for spies, or these other games? Do they really have the time or energy? Don’t they just want to hear benefits and value propositions from subject matter experts?
These are awesome examples of visualizing a transmedia plan! Many thanks for sharing.

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