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Simon Staffans: From Transmedia to… Intermedia?

Could Beyoncé tweeting her pregnancy from the VMAs be the ultimate example of optimised transmedia?

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Beyoncé

Photo: Beyoncé at the VMAs, with NIcki Minaj (left): prologue to the ultimate crossmedia moment?

As people who have read my previous blog posts here will attest to, I tend to look at matters from a transmedia point of view. The reason is simple; I firmly believe that using transmedia methods when developing media content, be it drama, news, formats or documentaries, will make the end result more compelling and the audience more engaged.

Recently I feel that the discussions on the transmedia (or cross media, or multiplatform, or even intermedia) business world has become more mature and given rise to a number of great thoughts. As I stated in my earlier post here (Can Transmedia Be A Cash Cow), I am of the opinion that transmedia projects, as any other, need to make money, simply because otherwise the project will be discontinued in favor of some other project that does make money. Nuno Bernardo from BeActive had a good post here last month about how to fund a transmedia project, drawing on the experiences of his own projects such as “Sophia’s Diary”.

But looking from another angle, what are the latest thoughts on how to make the most of the finished product?

Brent Friedman stated in a talk last week something that should be fairly obvious, that the audience is now for the most part totally social. Any property that is being developed or produced mustn’t think of social as an alternative or as a future add-on; meaningful social interaction with the audience and between audience members in the context of the property should be developed together with the property itself; integrated as well and as logically as possible to engage and excite the people you are trying to reach. Do read the sum-up of Brent’s talk; it’s highly enlightening.

The Long Tail has been a mantra for many people in the media business; the idea that content still sells after what feels like aeons after the initial release. Many have been consigned to having their properties long-tailing with little or no traction after a relatively short time after the initial release.

Over at Transmythology, Simon Pulman discussed an interesting article this week and put it into transmedia context, arguing that transmedia methods can help prolong all phases of the “Interest Graph” the initial interest, the climbing interest, the peak of interest and the more or less slowly vaning interest in the property, the Long Tail. This is, however, something that needs to be integrated and planned for from the very first beginning of development on the property.

So, what is this thing called “Intermedia” then? The next buzzword? It might well be, as Rick Liebling recently made an excellent case for producers and marketing people to take a long good look at the area he wants to define as the Intermedia area. It is the flow of action and interaction that happens as a result of cross media or transmedia methods – one of Nick’s examples is Beyoncé at the MTV Awards, performing pregnant and then tweeting from the front row with the gala still in full swing.

This immediate, spontaneous, it’s-happening-now-and-gosh-I’m-in-on-it! experience is an area that is currently woefully underdeveloped. By the way, developed and spontaneous are in this case NOT contradictions; experiencing a fullfilling and rewarding spontanity benefits from a framework well developed.

All in all, as we approach MIPCOM in a couple of week’s time, getting revenue in the traditional ways is becoming harder. What everyone is looking for are new examples of how to make money in a multiplatform world.

What everyone needs to realise is that transmedia content will need to be developed together with the main property as part of the main property, from the ground up, in a logical and timely fashion. At MIPCOM, I hope to see some good examples!

Simon Staffans is a format developer for Media City Finland, a regular contributor to MIPBlog and MIP Markets’ champion tweeter! He takes part in MIPCOM’s final wrap-up session, October 6, 14.30. Full conference programme

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