Transmedia…how will the next iteration of broadcast television survive?

I read this great article, Rebel Alliance by David Kushner, in the most recent issue of Fast Company. As a pseudo-Indiana Jones fannatic (ie. I was not an over-the-top psychotic fan –> I just loved the movie series), I know what it’s like to be all-consumed with anticipation about the Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull that debuted in theatres last week. I owned the series on VHS –> I got each one from McDonald’s years ago when they were promoting it back then. I watched each episode featured on TV in the weeks leading up to the premiere. I was also bombarded with TV trailers, not to mention those posted on Youtube. Unlike TV series, the infrequency of movie premieres lends itself to the advantage of developing the anticipation and hype prior to a debut. Television series cannot leverage that same potential. Or can they? The article speaks about the obsolescence of broadcast television and what can define success in the next iteration as the digital home becomes more of a reality. David speaks of this new buzzword, “transmedia” as defined by Wikipedia as “storytelling across multiple forms of media”. Its growth is driven by the explosion of new media including video gaming, mobile and web apps that allow new forms of content creation. These guys understand that like what itunes has done to music sales, the same environment will dictate a move towards creating an alternative revenue stream for TV/video programming. It’s already happening. On the heels of Hulu (NBC/Newscorp venture), ABC announced it was going to allow free video sharing for all its content, making most video content by both networks ubiquitous. While Hulu has allowed embedding without required sponsor ads, ABC still requires the user to view commercials in their entirety. It’s my guess that the online user may demand alternative forms of advertising as viewing programming online becomes more mainstay.

So, what does transmedia imply? For true fans this means access to new information through enhanced storylines or character development and also having the privilege to comment and contribute to new content. This involves development of a branded universe with increasingly more consumer interaction and creation. This plays into the eventual semantic web as initial mass appeal becomes more fragmented and true loyalty to a product will be borne by the few. So dependence on the die-hard “trekkies” or fantatics for sustainability may help build product longevity. Everything’s in test-mode right now. Today’s content generation now has the power to dictate where it all eventually leads…still to come…

Open ID…Data Portability… seamless integration or lack of control?

This week’s announcements from MySpace, Facebook, and Google about their respective launches of Data Availability, Facebook Connect and Google Friend Connect gives us a preview into the next evolution of web connectivity. To marketers it’s a amazing leap forward in being able to 1) tap into audiences behaviourally across mutliple social networking platforms 2) develop more efficient media strategies where previous fragmentation has been unable to capture user behaviour outside of individual walled sites 3) and, in essence, provide much richer data for targetting strategies.

It didn’t take long, however for today’s news to arise: Facebook rejecting Google’s Friend Connect. Already, concerns about privacy are arising. As great as it is from a business perspective, the idea of Open I.D. raises a lot of concerns about how my data, as a user will be used. Yeah, I love the fact that I can register and create my profile only once and allow my data to flow with me as I surf from one site to another but it begs the question of control. The reason that fragmentation exists is that the user has the option to maintain mutliple identities/personas across multiple sites. Friend lists will differ depending on the purpose of my presence on certain sites. Maybe my profile on scribd as a “health guru” does not necessarily want to integrate with my political profile on jibjab. My professional linkedin friends should have access to my blogspot and my twitter but not my facebook. The point is: only I should have control on who sees my stuff and which friends I want interacting with me wherever I go. Giving this control to Facebook, Google or MySpace, for that matter, gives up my right and my control over my data.

Facebook is already noticing the impacts of cross-pollinating users/friends from one platform to another. Privacy concerns must weigh in especially since each platform has its own policies for its users. It will be interesting how this will be architectured cross-platformed to give users full disclosure and opt-out control if they so choose.

Marketing Revolution: The Art of Conversation Laced within Authenticity

While I’ve been fortunate enough to have worked in multiple mediums as a marketer: television, OOH, guerilla, print, direct mail, database CRM, online media, radio, nothing has prepared me for this radical shift that has necessitated the move towards reinventing marketing from a model of selling to a model of listening.

The democratization of media has provided increasingly more tools at the hands of consumers and has given them more power than ever before. The consumers, in essence, have become the marketers and, in many ways, continue to elude their pursuers given the increasing media fragmentation. However, at the same time, these tools have allowed their very needs and behaviours to become more transparent –> an advantage that needs to be leveraged. The definition of conversational marketing in Wikipedia asserts a more complacent, acquiescing relationship that marketers should attempt to create with consumers if they are to succeed in turning consumers to advocates. The sweet spot is being able to effectively develop a relationship with the consumer who is an influencer. This can be a dangerous path if not dealt with care and caution. My scribd friend Tizio, who is part of a blogger network, puts it this way, “In my opinion, the great revolution in marketing isn’t the technology, the creativity or the WOM. The real revolution is to speak the truth. Engage discussions and don’t be misleading.”

Many marketers have yet to ascribe to this belief, let alone understand its true impact. The reality of digital media is that the shift of power to the consumer is not the only factor that companies must contend. Time, place and speed of information can seriously cripple a brand if a company does not enlist in strategies to respond, research and proactively manage the messages. A must-read is HD Marketing 2010:Sharpening the Conversation. Rishad Tobaccowala, CEO and founder of Denuo, said it this way: “time is compressed and often a victim of arbitrage. Place doesn’t matter. People can blog or access content from anywhere. Area has shifted to digital focus: content can be anything or come from anywhere. Speed of marketing, in process and execution, is critical.”

My recent experiences have brought to light the importance of integrating blogging strategies, interactive community sites, testing emerging mediums, and including flexibility for iteration; and most importantly incorporating data insights (ie behavioural and verbal) and measurement criteria to gain increased understanding of the market.

Engagement and Advocacy must supersede Awareness and Eyeballs from the onset. I’ve said this before: Deal with the consumer in their space and on their terms….and they will come.

The problem with social networks

Every social application has a lifecycle. There is a honeymoon period where excitement is present, activity is abundant, where I come back time and time again to see if someone’s noticed me and has added me as a friend. Suddenly, it becomes an obsession — wow, I’m connecting with my gal pal from kindergarten…and, OK, I’ll add the snobby cheerleader who didn’t say boo to me once in high school…but hey if she wants to be my friend, cool….and as long as I’m on here, I might as well fill it with all my stuff: my pics, my videos, my communication with all my pals. OK, after the honeymoon period there are are all these crazy applications that my newfound friends want me to be a part of. Some of them are really funny. I can decorate pics, spend way too much money on those “it’s-only-a-dollar” virtual gifts, declare my BFFs to the entire world, hug and poke and superpoke and twitter and update my mood… and be part of groups I probably will never visit again…. ..and….now…it….gets….way….tooo……boring.

This video below sums it all up! I found it on called “Social Network Wars”. After awhile, the sizzle is gone. The reach that these social web apps is misleading. They may have the numbers but the time spent is dwindling. Now the proactive user is now reactive and only visits on the odd occasion that they get an email. Maybe it’s because I have a FB account, a MySpace, a Twitter, a Friendster…and a new Ning site I just created. Don’t forget, I have a life too in the real world……

Vodpod videos no longer available. from posted with vodpod

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