The term “transmedia” has had a difficult birth as a buzzword of academic-conference panelists and digital-era visionaries. And even though it has arrived in film industry jargon and popular culture in the past few years, it is still a widely misunderstood and little appreciated expression. The concept of transmedia is still powerful for producers though. Here are five reasons why transmedia still matters:
1. Today, content drives an entire marketing campaign
No one is interested in traditional product ads anymore, especially not Millennials. From branded entertainment and viral video to native advertising and social media presence, the creative innovation as well as the money in digital marketing seems to head away from traditional advertising. Brands need to reach out to niche audiences in countless smaller channels with custom content that is relevant to that consumer. GE’s global executive director brand marketing, Linda Boff, argued at the SXSW session on “Content marketing vs. Don Draper” that “brands need to market for the year they’re in”. You can’t think about what worked five years ago; transmedia works now, as The Hunger Games campaign and Dove’s Real Beauty Sketches have shown recently.
2. Millennials are the transmedia generation
Jeff Gomez, one of Hollywood’s leading Transmedia Producers and CEO of Starlight Runner, even calls Millennials the “transmedia generation”. According to Gomez, they are the most social/ most published in the history of humanity; they move intuitively from one medium to the next; they dominate the conversation and give immediate feedback; they demand authenticity and require intuitive interfaces. And Awesomeness TV’s Brian Robbins said at MIPTV that Generation Z will be even more influential than Millennials. Therefore, a new toolset and new techniques are required to reach and engage young audiences. The passive viewer has become an active user and participant.
3. The Producers Guild of America encourages transmedia storytelling
Gomez was also one of the driving forces behind the Producers Guild of America’s New Media Council Transmedia Producer credit. In April 2010, the Producers Guild of America ratified a Transmedia Producer credit for film, television and interactive projects. This ratification established skill set and techniques of transmedia storytelling as legitimate and contractually sound. According to the PGA, a Transmedia Producer credit is given to the person(s) responsible for a significant portion of a project’s long-term planning, development, production, and/or maintenance of narrative continuity across multiple platforms, and creation of original storylines for new platforms. Without this credit, many Transmedia Producers would not receive the deserved acknowledgement.
4. In more and more countries, multiplatform extensions are necessary to get funding
Around the same time, it was ruled in Canada that funding for films and television programmes would be restricted unless producers developed multiplatform extensions such as websites, and other ancillary content around them. The Canadian Media Fund recognised the transmedia technique and began funding projects that were developed natively across a number of platforms. Australia, Holland, Switzerland, the United Kingdom, Brazil and Colombia have since followed suit. And more and more funds are becoming available for transmedia projects.
5. From AI to VR and platforms that allow you to influence stories in real-time
These new forms of transmedia give audiences the chance to dive into a more immersive experience. While doing so, they connect with the story on a deeper level and become loyal to the brand. We live in an experience-driven world. Brands should focus on finding ways to creatively engage with their consumers rather than trying to sell their products/ services. This way their loyal viewers/ users will become loyal customers, too.
Transmedia is a buzzword that has been thrown about so much its meaning has become diluted. However, it has still relevancy today and as Kim Willis, strategy director at the London HQ of content marketing agency Cedar, said at SXSW 2015: “This is the year of transmedia – where having a deep impact on an audience means going beyond aspiring to shallow channel views and instead finding new ways to invite people into a more immersive sensory experience.”
Top photo via Shutterstock – Milles Studio