27 August 2010

Transmedia is not new. Transmedia strategy is.

There is a significant opportunity now for a paradigm shift in the development of transmedia strategy for brands.

While there was a mild peak in interest in transmedia and the discussion around transmedia strategy in 2006/7 with the publication of Henry Jenkins' Convergence Culture: Where Old and New Media Collide , the buzz died soon died down to be replaced with discussions around narrative exposition and the centrality of the brand story.

One of the problems of Jenkins' critique is that the role of brand has largely been underplayed in subsequent discussions of transmedia. The assumption that brand assets like fictional content, media property and entertainment franchises are so evolutionary that they appear largely ownerless and un-branded, perhaps even disenfranchised by transmedia as well, seems naive. Now with the confluence of technology and brand creating ever more powerful social media platforms, brand owners have begun to realise that significant revenue streams have gone largely unexplored and undervalued, the argument for transmedia strategy now seems unequivocal.

Still brand development and planning continue to remain resolutely in brand strategy and advertising planning silos, rather than in the more convergent disciplines such as PR and social media which now cover "influence" rather than platform-based awareness. All the while the simplification of technology production and wider device access is radically increasing the ability, scale and scope of individual and audience collaboration and co-creation in brand development, it is still rare for brands and the campaigns that follow to embrace more than one or two transmedia approaches, even better still a full and lengthy transmedia strategy.

I believe much of the problem lies in three parts. Firstly, both a disavowal and a general ignorance of the role brand and brand creation has in the development of the transmedia assets. Secondly, the tactical short-term focus most brands have on brand deployment and engagement and subsequently followed by the action of their agencies. Thirdly, this concentration on short term campaign development (linked to agency renumeration and commission structures), replaces the more favourable strategic objective of long term brand equity building.

The above video is a broadcast of slides for my lecture to a Masters class at the University of Technology, Sydney. It is simply an introduction, designed to inform a larger discussion on the emerging role of transmedia strategy in brand and marketing planning.

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