Thursday, September 10, 2009

The upside down world of new media.

One of my favorite disciplines from my ad life is Brand Platform Planning. This is a design thinking approach that forces an architectural structure to the exercise of developing expansive, multi-media ad/promotion campaigns. The goal is simple: to ensure consistent delivery of relevant benefits at every point of contact. Think of an org chart flowing down and out from brand promise/values to all the constituent channels, mediums, occasions and audiences.

That was then. Now, flip that upside down.

Start with the myriad channels, mediums, encounters, audiences. Then imagine wanting to figure out how to allow them each to thrive on their own, and yet still being able to organize or connect them in such a way that the storytelling can achieve symbiosis.

The answer, now coming fully into its own via social media/sharing, is Transmedia Storytelling. Here's a quick clip from the entry in Wikipedia:

Transmedia Storytelling defined by Henry Jenkins in his 2006 book Convergence Culture, is storytelling across multiple forms of media with each element making distinctive contributions to a viewer/user/player's understanding of the story world. By using different media formats, it attempts to create "entrypoints" through which consumers can become immersed in a story world. The aim of this immersion is decentralized authorship, or transmedial play as defined by Stephen Dinehart in his 2006 transmedia thesis project "Journey of Jin" at the USC School of Cinematic Arts.[2]

There are two prominent factors driving the growth of transmedia storytelling. The first is the proliferation of new media forms like video games, the internet, and mobile platforms and the demand for content in each. The second is an economic incentive for media creators to lower production costs by sharing assets. Transmedia storytelling often uses the principle of hypersociability. Transmedia storytelling is also sometimes referred to as multi modality, referring to using multi-modal representations to convey a complex story through numerous media sources.

Transmedia Storyteller, Jeff Gomez, defines it as "the art of conveying messages themes or storylines to mass audiences through the artful and well planned use of multiple media platforms." Jeff furthers this explanation stating the following: "Most of us flow naturally from one medium to the next. Unfortunately most of our content doesn’t. Instead the stories are repurposed and repeated. They do not extend the franchise nor do they build brand equity. With transmedia, each part of story is unique and plays to the strengths of the medium. The result is a new kind of narrative where story flows across each platform forming a rich narrative tapestry that manifests in an array of products and multiple revenue streams. The audience is both validated and celebrated for participating in the story world through the medium of their choice."[3]

Once again, I'm reminded of how incredibly useful/informative it is to turn things upside down and look at them anew. Or to squint for a bit and let your focus change. What's most intriguing to me about social/user gen media/new marketing is how much it's driving a return to the simple, service-based, respect-the-individual values of door-to-door selling. That's a good thing.


John Ettorre said...

Would the corollary be a return to simpler storytelling too?

Scott Crawford said...

Hey, John. Yes, I think simpler as in less contrived and gussied up. Transparency, openness pretty much demand it. Front porch, screen door, camp fire stuff. What's got me turned on is the way people are using the tools to weave stories and share in the very best ways. Gives space and time to do the necessary work of rebuilding trust on shared values. Hopefully.

John Ettorre said...

You've said it well, Scott. I'd certainly agree with all of that.

scottellington said...

I envision a fleshed-out Promise Org-chart into a Promise Pyramid, and when I visualize inverting that structure, it looks like a Feedback Funnel in which numerous and diverse impressions of the product converge on the singular seat at the apex of the pyramid whose jobligation is to fix and tweak the brand toward optimal, sustainable satisfaction for all involved in the caring system.

It's an absolutely lovely model that transforms "culture" back from a noun to a verb.