Friday, December 30, 2011

From Transmedia to Intermedia

As I’ve written elsewhere, I believe that transmedia is a big part of advertising’s future.  Transmedia takes the traditional ad model and turns it on its head.  Rather than focus on repeating the same message in every medium over and over and over again, transmedia says that a brand narrative can be spread across mediums.  In fact, for transmedia, a typical linear story arc isn’t necessary.  Instead, a brand can tell parts of its story in different places and then allow consumers to fill in the missing pieces or to take the story in new directions.

However, technology is changing so rapidly that heretofore separate mediums are converging, making transmedia plans more interesting and more complicated. According to Georgia Tech’s FutureMedia Outlook 2012 , “The media creators of tomorrow will design fluid content ecosystems via connected and intuitive platforms. Media delivery formats and genres will blend, becoming more sophisticated and borderless.

Books will be games like Undoda.

News will be generated and presented by users like Facebook’s PostPost.

Music will be marketing like Neurotic Media .

Social networks and TV will converge to put the users themselves onscreen like Youtoo.

Huge digital documents will be moved, morphed, and manipulated at the touch of a finger with innovations like LiquidText.”

These new emerging media are redefining the very idea of transmedia (trans is a Latin prefix meaning "across"; thus transmedia = "across media").  Perhaps a more appropriate term than transmedia is Dick Higgin's "intermedia."  Higgins coined the term "intermedia" in the mid-sixties to describe the tendency of the most interesting and best in new art to cross the boundaries of recognized media or even to fuse the boundaries of art with media that had not previously been considered art forms. (See "Intermedia" for more info.)

This new intermedia world is creating opportunities for a whole host of new businesses.  Fast Company calls this new industry, Co.Create Nation"Today," they write, "a new creative map is taking shape, as the barriers between these businesses [advertising and entertainment] fall away, spurred by a swarm of adventurers and explorers. For companies and consumers, actors and artists, marketers and musicians, there is no turning back. On the contrary, this is the wave of tomorrow."

One of my favorite examples of this new model is Joseph Gordon-Levitt's hitRECord. (See Fast Company's Co.Create website and Forbes' innovaton-cocreation website for more examples.)  In an Entertainment Weekly article he notes, “As much as I love acting, I also like telling stories, making little short films, music, art, writing, etc. Normally when an actor starts a production company, it’s sort of an insular, Hollywood thing, but I wanted to collaborate with all of these artists all over the world who are making beautiful art and don’t necessarily have the connections to work in Hollywood.  That’s why we use the Internet and we put these projects that we do online, and anybody can contribute to them. I’m there directing, participating, curating, and editing, and we make things together.”

Further, not only are new media forms emerging, consumers are demanding that all this media be available across multiple platforms. According to Nielsen ("Cross Platform is the New Norm,” 2011), “Today's consumers are not just watching TV anymore, they are using a collection of media devices from TV sets, to laptops to mobile phones to watch, interact and engage with video content. As this new viewing behavior becomes more broadly adopted, looking at TV or online alone does not accurately reflect the most effective way to reach your intended consumer." 

In fact, not only are consumers using multiple devices, they are also watching these devices simultaneously.  According to a 2010 Nielsen survey, 59% of consumers watch the Internet and television simultaneously!

The opportunity for advertising agencies in 2012, will be how to plan, charge and track these new intermedia, transmedia and traditional media forms while at the same time, figuring out the best way to communicate within them.

“The men who are going to be in business tomorrow are the men who understand that the
future, as always, belongs to the brave.” Bill Bernbach

Here's to the brave in 2012.

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