At NYB Media, we strive to do more than just the standard video-by-commission. As we discussed in our last blog, a video is more than just something you slap together. Instead, it should be a perfect summary and encapsulation of who you are, what you do, and your brand as a whole. Therefore, it’s important that your video not just be an afterthought, but rather part-and-parcel of a promotional strategy that integrates the idea of transmedia marketing. While “transmedia” may sound like a vague buzzword, it’s actually a concept that will only become more important to understand as the marketing industry evolves and the lines separating traditional media continue to blur.
The easiest way to explain transmedia is to talk about how it’s applied to works of fiction (mostly sci-fi). In short, transmedia, or “cross-media,” is when you tell multiple stories on different platforms, yet they’re all part of the same universe, the same whole. Think of a fiction-based franchise, like Star Wars, or The Matrix, or Marvel Comics. Usually, there will be one main story that everyone follows, including the most casual fans (such as the Star Wars movies themselves). This story can stand alone, but does contain hints of a larger setting where similar stories we don’t see are taking place, whether across the street or across the galaxy. Transmedia is the process of developing those complementary stories for other mediums, including books, games, websites, animated series, and comics. These additional stories may stand-alone, but most importantly, will overlap with and inform one another to give the viewer greater detail and understanding of the fictional universe as a whole. Therefore, if you like Chewbacca as a side character in Star Wars, there are numerous books, games, and websites that contain more of the official Chewbacca story.
… So, that was a lot of information. What matters to you is this: How does learning the name of Chewbacca’s parents have anything to do with your company, especially if you’re not selling products based on a fictional world?
Think of it this way: your brand, your company, or at the very least your marketing campaign, is the fictional universe. And any ad, press release, promotional event, or other piece of marketing are the stories that take place within. Your promotions should share an overarching vision, so much so that if a consumer were to view any two pieces of the campaign, they’d recognize them as being part of the same brand “universe.”
That’s what we do here at NYB. We take your brand, your universe, and take it on as if it was our own. We analyze your image, principles, and everything your company or campaign represents, then create an advertisement that perfectly fits within the stories you want your universe to tell.
In many ways, this is all Branding 101. Coca-Cola doesn’t use a variety of logos in its ads; it doesn’t make one commercial featuring cute kids, one with x-treme athletes, and one with sexy models, then release them all at the same time. Heck, Coca-Cola doesn’t even change the colours it uses. Coca-Cola is red-and-white, and it’s the brand that wants everyone, friends and family, to be happy and together (even if they’re Santa Claus or polar bears or cute little creatures living inside a vending machine). The consistency of the Coca-Cola “universe” – visually, tonally, and in its target demographic (ie. everyone who enjoys happiness and smiles) – is considered a key to the company’s success, especially when compared to Pepsi’s multiple, contradictory campaigns in recent years that have muddled the brand.
The other important aspect of transmedia – and where we come in specifically – is that while each story or product in a fictional universe may overlap, it doesn’t mean adapting, licensing, or otherwise shoehorning the exact same story to different mediums. Rather, each new story is created with its medium in mind. In the same way, your advertisements can’t be a simple copy-and-paste job from one medium to another, but rather built from the ground up for the format in use.
This is why hiring a specialized video production company is the next logical step, even as you may think transmedia promotes coherence through keeping everything in-house. In actuality, transmedia promotes thorough understandings of each platform your messaging will go through, so that each piece of marketing you put out is of such quality that none diminish your brand’s image. Therefore, it makes sense to commission experts when marketing with more advanced mediums. If your clients see the same phrases or talking points popping up on billboards, posters, and your Twitter feed, it all becomes repetitive white noise that they tune out, thus wasting your marketing dollars. But if you use the strengths of each format to your advantage, viewers will recognize that they’re looking at pieces of a larger puzzle. Soon, should your advertising be compelling in itself, the consumer may even search out the remaining aspects of the campaign, ultimately strengthening your brand.
Take, for instance, the transmedic approach NBC took to covering the 2012 Olympic Games. While their main focus was obviously on multiple-hour primetime television coverage, a comprehensive website was created to archive shorter video clips and highlights more suitable to the web. In addition, NBC partnered with social media platforms Facebook and Shazam, each of whom used their own developers to create tie-ins supporting the televised coverage. On Facebook, a number of polls, games, contests and exclusives were designed to incentivize users to ‘Like’ the page, and then share NBC.com highlights with friends. With Shazam, traditionally a smartphone app used to listen to and recognize songs playing in public places, users could have the app scan advertisements during primetime coverage for direct, immediate links to athlete profiles and event schedules. Local NBC stations came up with their own strategies, such as the Los Angeles affiliate who analyzed the Facebook News Feed algorithm and decided that daily cover photos counting down to the start of the games offered maximum exposure to users. Each specialized branch of this Olympics promotional push displayed understanding of the platforms for which they were responsible, and how each could involve a separate audience before directing them to the prime NBC coverage, thus attracting a wider client base than had NBC done nothing more than use each platform to lazily tell viewers to watch the television coverage.
Transmedia is only becoming more common as time going on. New media franchises are created with transmedia already in mind, and second-screen experiences are becoming en vogue. The sooner producers and advertisers consider how to tailor their marketing to different platforms (including video advertising), the better. Yet many people equate new media with expensive costs, or playing to a small audience, especially when compared to older mediums like television. In our next blog, we’ll explain how choosing online advertising for your transmedia campaign makes more business sense than traditional options.