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Transmedia Marketing Playbook

A guide to theory and practice of marketing in the participatory culture

by Matt Davis & Ryan Risenmay December 14, 2012

A production of the Master of Communications program within the University of Washington, a program that for more than a decade has analyzed, challenged, and instructed on digital engagement for strategic communications. With research and contribution by Mariana Llamas-Cendon and Lisa Kennelly and under the supervision of John Du Pre-Gaunnt, Faculty Advisor.

Transmedia Marketing Playbook
A guide to theory and practice of marketing in the participatory culture

Table of Contents ABSTRACT ................................................................................................................................. 3 EXECUTIVE SUMMARY ............................................................................................................. 4 TRANSMEDIA MARKETING ...................................................................................................... 6 State of Marketing..................................................................................................................... 6 Transmedia................................................................................................................................. 7 When is a Transmedia strategy appropriate?............................................................................. 9 STRATEGIES AND FRAMEWORK OF A TRANSMEDIA MARKETING CAMPAIGN ................... 10 Where to begin ......................................................................................................................... 10 Planning To Execute ................................................................................................................. 17 KPIs and Measuring Success ..................................................................................................... 23 Challenges with Transmedia Marketing .................................................................................. 24 CONCLUSIONS ....................................................................................................................... 24 REFERENCES .......................................................................................................................... 26 ABOUT MCDM ......................................................................................................................... 27 Additional Transmedia Case Study Information ...................................................................... 28

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Transmedia Marketing Playbook
A guide to theory and practice of marketing in the participatory culture

Abstract

Media options are constantly increasing and evolving as consumers adopt new technologies. This proliferation of media choices also fundamentally changes how marketers communicate and engage and with consumers. Consumers often don’t use only one device or only one communications channel, such as online social networks—and that challenges marketers to create a connection with consumers on their own multi-channel terms, providing an experience that is personalized, always available and easily sharable. Marketers are vying for mere fragments of consumer attention. They need a new approach for using multiple media channels to reach a more distracted audience. Marketers know this shift toward multi-channel communication by many names. We’re calling it “transmedia marketing.” It involves synchronous multi-platform social storytelling and multi-level community engagement and participation. The vocabulary isn’t nearly as important as is the way of thinking and the adjusted marketing approach. This extended model is not an easy transition for most marketers and many publications to date only provide a surface-level analysis of the marketing landscape changing from traditional to digital or statistics focused on new media or consumer technology adoption. The goal of this document is to provide a framework, as well as some tools to help brand and product marketers with social storytelling and managing audience relationships with multiple platforms; to help answer marketers questions “Where do I start?” and “What can I expect to find?” It outlines the activities and challenges in adopting a transmedia friendly orientation to telling a branded story. It provides a specific framework for analysis, strategic planning and execution with some guidance on when a transmedia approach would be appropriate, such as for product launches and rebranding support.

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Transmedia Marketing Playbook
A guide to theory and practice of marketing in the participatory culture

Executive Summary The age of the empowered consumer has eroded the foundations of traditional brand marketing. The one-to-many broadcast approach of “message” style marketing used over the past 50-plus years is increasingly unable to reach and engage audiences. Consumers have taken control of their media experiences and when and how they will engage with a brand. At the same time, they expect to brands to be always available on a one-to-one basis and on a variety of levels across multiple media channels simultaneously. This challenges marketers to change their approach with these fragmented and more concentrated audiences. Transmedia marketing offers marketers a new framework to meet the needs of these consumers. Why do consumers expect brands to be so attentive? Consumers are placing a higher value on personal connections with a brand or product. These emotional, identity-defining connections, and influences from their peers often trump generic sales pitch messages. Consumers desire community, interactivity, and the option to participate in the story of a brand, its product, or services. The Millenial Generation is on the crest of this wave of behavioral change to the participatory culture. Millenials—“digital natives” born in the 1980s and 1990s—have grown up with technology as a central component of their daily lives. MILLENIALS DEMONSTRATE MULTIThey have come of age and are now the largest PLATFORM USE: consumer demographic. They are comfortable with adopting new media formats and technologies, and  57% simultaneously checked their they move freely from interactive service to platform emails while watching TV. to device—or use them simultaneously. From adoption of social networking to use of smartphones and tablets  44% browsed for unrelated to access content, Millenials are leading the way information or accessed a social forward. This heavily influence the behaviors of both network. “Boomer” (the over 55) and “GenX” (1960s -1980s)  19% searched for information groups. (2009, PewResearchCenter). Enter transmedia marketing – a strategy that brands can use to harnesses the change in behaviors of these consumers. It builds upon their interest in compelling storytelling and their preferences in determining what part(s) of a branded experience they will engage with at the time and place of their choosing. While

regarding an ad they have seen.  16% browsed discounts or got coupons related specifically to an ad they saw while watching on TV.

Nielsen 2012

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Transmedia Marketing Playbook
A guide to theory and practice of marketing in the participatory culture

Transmedia strategies originated in entertainment media marketing such as television, movies and gaming, this format of marketing doesn’t mean repurposing the same old message or marketing angle across different media platforms (known as “cross-media” marketing). This type of storytelling for marketing purposes isn’t solely about brand recognition and positioning, nor is it about convincing people to buy or like a brand or product. It’s about creating deep, immersive, and extended media TRANSMEDIA MARKETING experiences that open up the possibility for sustained two-way communication between a  A long term strategy focused on building brand and its customer. This can create relationships and devotion of consumers. emotional ties in which customers become  Integrated across digital and linear touch more than a passive audience. They have the points. potential of becoming influencers and  Multiple immersive and extended participants in the development and growth of a brand, product and even the company itself. narratives that add to an overall brand Transmedia marketing requires a long-term approach to customer engagement with extensive planning and execution along a meaningful storyline. For brands, transmedia marketing involves extensive staffing, resources, and thoughtful analytics and measurement of goals and objectives. Transmedia isn’t appropriate for all marketing needs. However, when done right, a transmedia strategy can help a brand be successful with consumers by tapping into their innate behaviors and building relationships worthy of devotion.

story.  Open to audience interaction and participation.

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Transmedia Marketing Playbook
A guide to theory and practice of marketing in the participatory culture

Transmedia Marketing State of Marketing Today, in many cases and in many ways, traditional marketing is failing business. Advertising is noise. Public relations comes across as too impersonal. Audiences don’t want to be addressed. Technology has taught consumers today to know they don’t have to put up with traditional ways of getting and trading information. With their devices they can sidestep the corporate voice and join others who share insights and opinions. As a community with common interest, they’re important; they know they are. They can easily take their conversations, commitments, and loyalties wherever they matter most. For today’s marketers, transmedia marketing suits a consumer base that’s progressively changing its behavior with preference to things digital. On the heels of consumer television turning digital and channels multiplying, viewing technology options have become even much more prevalent, accessible, affordable, and convenient. Consumers have always had a choice to make: what’s worth watching? And that’s truer now than ever before. We are now part of a multi-screen world. As people become more familiar with information sources they value and discover ways for accessing that information, sensory overload is not in the picture. Viewer focus can just as easily shift to the next eye-catching media program or to platforms offering compelling content with deeper engagement. Consumers can focus on multiple media platforms—both sequentially as well as simultaneously—when specific goals are to be met. In business it’s much the same—people spend time with media and delivery platforms that fit the investment and gain they perceive. Time is money in business, so it’s critical to address people appropriately. And because most people engage across a continuum of interests and media platforms, marketers that want to reach consumers and business decision makers must be careful not to get caught up in the story that just one device tells about their customers’ behavior. Audiences now expect information and engaging entertainment to be instantaneously accessible through a variety of media platforms. Having multiple access points and user inputs draws the audience in. They tend to latch onto platforms that are easy to navigate and foster participation. Their involvement can provide valuable feedback in real time, build stronger ties with devoted followers, and can even help define or shape aspects of the story that needs to be told as they choose what is more relevant and meaningful to them.

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Transmedia Marketing Playbook
A guide to theory and practice of marketing in the participatory culture

To address a multi-screen world, marketers must adjust the traditional marketing mix into simple and affordable communication paths that spread storytelling and engagement across multiple platforms. Transmedia marketing sticks when it is submitted to public opinion and is granted permission to carry some or all of the conversation. It goes where the community goes and seems to belong. And, in a sense, as community property it has shared ownership and grows stronger when others want to take it further. These expectations challenge the methods that marketers may be most familiar using, but the payoff fits the bill. Transmedia Transmedia marketing is more than just broadcasting out a promotional message; it’s a strategy for creating a story-led branded experience that captures interest by tapping into participatory behaviors of today’s consumers. A common confusion when talking about transmedia marketing compared to other strategies TRANSMEDIA MARKETING: is cross-media marketing. Many marketers already use many different traditional offline and digital A brand communications strategy channels such as newspapers, television, radio involving synchronous multi-platform Facebook, web and mobile advertising to reach their social storytelling and multi-level audiences. The brand message is promoted community engagement and participation. simultaneously as an orchestrated campaign. A transmedia marketing campaign seeds an idea and enables audiences to self-discover, engage and contribute to that idea though many different entry points and paths. The narrative focus is on immersing consumers in an expansive yet navigable story world, thereby rendering meaningful emotional experiences, each building a part of the whole story/message. The goal is to foster engaged, loyal (fanatical) communities that not only help unfold the storyline but also advocate on behalf of a brand and its products or services beyond any one campaign window. Transmedia marketing uses a variety of media that could be digital only or a combination of digital with others, such as mobile and conventional media platforms like television and print. Which media platforms are used is less critical than ensuring that each selected platform is utilized in the most relevant way. One of the most commonly cited transmedia marketing case studies is the recent Old Spice campaign. With the campaign named “The Man Your Man Could Smell Like” the almost forgotten Old Spice brand successfully re-launched in 2009: repositioning it in the personal care market mainstream, creating awareness about within younger generations (GenX and Millenials), and boosting sales by millions. The Old Spice campaign took off in the form of traditional TV ads. Once those TV commercials hit YouTube, it went viral. A social media strategy was implemented using both Facebook and Twitter platforms, proving tremendously
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Transmedia Marketing Playbook
A guide to theory and practice of marketing in the participatory culture

successful with thousands of comments. To engage the audience on a larger scale, “The Old Spice guy” Isaiah Mustafa also responded to some random Facebook comments and tweets via YouTube, including one special to Demi Moore, who posted comments online via social media at this regards. More than 180 YouTube videos were created with the intention of responding to the thousands of thousands of fans it generated. Mashable’s Brenna Ehrlich wrote “This campaign really is a perfect storm of viral marketing — not only does it target specific bloggers (who are then more likely to cover the whole thing), it also reaches out to less prominent individuals who can be made more aware of Old Spice. Moreover, they become personally invested in the brand because they have actually become a part of the world it has created.” But in recent years, a number of other iconic global brands such as BMW, Audi, Coke, and Mattel (Additional Transmedia Case Study Information) have used a  Transmedia marketing is only for transmedia marketing strategy successfully. BMW entertainment or media brands created a shorts film series called “The Hire”, which and products. featured a fictional character driving cars in ways that  Transmedia marketing is too highlighted features and capabilities of various BMW expensive to create and maintain. models. Over the next couple of years, BMW expanded  Transmedia marketing is for this story with new videos segments online generating over 100 Million views, distributed via DVD and even a “geeks” and “technophiles.” comic book series. Audi’s transmedia campaign called  Transmedia marketing is just the “The Art of the Heist” created an online/offline alternate same thing as multi-channel or reality game (ARG), where consumers had to look for cross media marketing. clues to solve an auto theft. The campaign included web sites, as well as clues planted in various public spaces in which consumers could investigate and learn about characters to find out more about the crime and propose whodunit theories. Coke started with a television commercial that included a fantastical world inside the vending machine called “Happiness Factory” that comes alive when someone orders a Coke. Based on strong response from consumers, Coke wanted to extend this magical world with a "behind the scenes" story. They created other stories, a website, a custom music playlist, and a video game based on the Happiness Factory where consumers could investigate, and interact with the world themselves. Another excellent example of transmedia marketing storytelling comes from Mattel and their highly successful Barbie and Ken campaign. Mattel created a story about the ups and downs of Barbie’s “relationship” with Ken over the years of these iconic toys. Gathering input and votes from the online community Mattel was able to create participation in the final outcome of this story culminating in a Valentine’s Day reunion of the two. Smartly, Mattel used this love story as a vehicle to create new buzz about two of their oldest products

TRANSMEDIA MYTHS:

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Transmedia Marketing Playbook
A guide to theory and practice of marketing in the participatory culture

and engaging new and old fans alike. The benefit of utilizing a transmedia marketing strategy was an invigorated community. What made each of these campaigns so successful? Focus on narratives and creating spaces for the participation allowed development of a community of fanatics. The campaigns told interesting stories that carried the brands products but didn’t push ad slogans or marketing messages. The audiences connected to the story and each other using various media platforms, fueling the demand for more and more content (stories) building reach and exposure for the brand. When is a Transmedia strategy appropriate? Transmedia marketing can be used successfully for a variety of business objectives, whether launching and growing a brand or product, shifting perceptions or generating intent and changing behaviors. That said it is important that transmedia marketing not be about selling, or making “the pitch.” Transmedia marketing is best used as a long-term community engagement strategy. Not all brand stories would be as good or appealing when told on very different levels across very different transmedia channels. Though traditional marketing campaigns have an associated story that drives the development of creative and messaging, the narrative is a means to an end and is not the central purpose intended to create a community around a branded product or service experience. This is because they are only “moments” intended to tactically deliver a specific message or generate a response. In other words, having a good story is a great beginning, but would that story be also worthy of devotion by the community to which is directed? Brands and products that don’t lend themselves to a meaningful, creative narrative that consumers will care about, or can contribute to, would have limited benefit from a transmedia marketing campaign. For example products or services for industrial use or things like medical or science equipment might not benefit much from a transmedia marketing strategy. And those marketers looking for quick results and short term gains will likely find the effort involved to plan, and manage a transmedia campaign too expensive and challenging. Though the story may quickly grow a vibrant community of fans, there shouldn’t be expectation that that will immediately result in increased business performance like sales and revenues. The payoff of transmedia is the ability to tap into the participatory behaviors of today’s consumers to create emotional connection to the brand, and a community of like-minded fanatics that will buy a brand’s products, and advocate on behalf of the brand over time.

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Transmedia Marketing Playbook
A guide to theory and practice of marketing in the participatory culture

Strategies and framework of a Transmedia Marketing campaign Where to begin A well-developed and successful transmedia project starts more or less like any other marketing strategy. It requires a precise definition of the marketing objective, a clear understanding of the target community and their TRANSMEDIA FRAMEWORK: inherent media behaviors, and expected measures of success, which have to be defined and designed from  Set objective the start. From there a transmedia strategy can take a  Create the story marketing campaign to the next level leveraging a  Community - understand the story that creates an experience and connects a audience and their behaviors community of consumers across multiple media  Determine technologies and media points of access. The narrative and roles that various platforms in a  Determine what success looks like transmedia project will play to advance a particular experience and enable community participation can be mapped out with a simple execution model for large or small transmedia marketing campaigns. Considering the transmedia marketing execution model (see figure 1) allows marketers to conceptualize the business reasons for employing transmedia and connects different models for audience interaction that can be tied to measurable and goal-oriented results. Objective Tactics/ Transactio ns Sharing methods — offer details about a concept, brand, product, or service Idea Exchange Transfer of informatio n— provide valuable insights in an audienceaccepted format Tasks/Inp ut Media platforms — determine methods of exchange Response KPIs Impact

to be employed

Business goals — exchange with a purpose (social, economic, marketing , or knowledg e)

Audience participatio n — plan ways to involve audiences

Analytics — observe measureabl e changes

Results — evaluate how business objective s are met

Figure 1: Transmedia marketing execution model By following an execution model that starts with business objectives, marketers can approach campaign planning with community engagement in mind and set objectives that facilitate
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Transmedia Marketing Playbook
A guide to theory and practice of marketing in the participatory culture

storytelling and the exchange of ideas through a variety of media platforms, identifying in advance what should be the measures of success. Objectives The concept of transmedia engagement is to invite audiences to participate within the framework of a story. However, before committing to specific digital media platforms to conduct this exchange, marketers must pinpoint what objective ultimately needs to be accomplished. A transmedia marketing campaign should not be conducted solely on the merits of leveraging new media platforms. The purpose of the transmedia campaign can best be determined by its business objective(s). Media strategist Gary Hayes of Screen Australia recommends identifying goals in three key areas through a series of business-oriented questions. 1. Considering the perspective of the user, what do you want to achieve? Marketers must help address the value and usage that users will glean from the experience. 2. Considering the perspective of the creative team, what are the goals? Stimulating the right kind of user involvement is key—not for the sake of creating something open, new, and inviting, but for definite purpose. 3. What is the economic goal or model? Determining up front the benefits sought after (whether commercial, marketing, experimental, or for public good) can be the guide to staying on course throughout execution. It can also be a measuring stick for success. As discussed in the previous section, BMW and Audi used transmedia to launch new vehicles. Mattel and Old Spice reinvigorated existing product lines. Coke’s campaign created a community of followers and grew audience reach. The importance of setting the marketing objective for the transmedia campaign can’t be underestimated. As shown in the detailed transmedia marketing execution model (see figure 2), marketing objectives drive the nature and extent of the narrative elements that are to be scripted versus the elements that are to be crowd sourced. The model defines how ideas are shared, plus the tactics and transactions for that exchange. Given that knowledge, it should become evident which media or platforms should be used. Through it all, the business objectives should identify the desired and expected outcomes of the campaign, and that outlines the success measures that can be tracked and reported.

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Transmedia Marketing Playbook
A guide to theory and practice of marketing in the participatory culture

Figure 2: Transmedia marketing execution model in detail Without a framework model, Transmedia activities may still occur, but they do so more in random, cross-platform fashion rather than by planned purpose and strategy. Marketers need to be careful to not jump too quickly to the execute stage, but spend time planning the objectives and exchanges as well as the measurable success criteria. The Story The narrative structure is the foundation of a transmedia project. It creates the experience that a brand or marketing campaign intends their audience to live. The story is the core of what will engage audiences to evolve into communities that are the critical element of transmedia success: creating loyal fans, not just capturing eyeballs and impressions. With traditional linear media, a marketing message is fixed. If there is a story, it has to be (relatively) short, simple to understand. Marketing messages for linear experiences are designed to carry the campaign on the back of one phrase for as long as possible before being tuned out by the audience through saturation. At this stage, the method of message distribution often may not yet be determined and therefore the message is more generic in nature. The message can be placed offline and/or online as needed such as a thirty second television commercial that is transformed to a static newspaper/magazine page ad or online banner or video. It’s the same message (ad) in syndication.

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Transmedia Marketing Playbook
A guide to theory and practice of marketing in the participatory culture

In a 2012 interview, Brent Friedman, co-founder of Electric Farm Entertainment and Executive Producer of MTV’s Valmont University, and Sony’s Woke Up Dead transmedia projects, said designing something from a transmedia standpoint is very different than writing for linear media. Considering the distribution architecture helps designers plan everything for how people are going to be seeing it and experiencing it. This includes knowing at every point where to move the audience and, if given the option of bypassing certain points in the story to get from A to Z, if this will still be a satisfying experience to the user journey. The transmedia story must allow the audience to identify themselves within the story’s architecture and therefore want to experience it more at their own level and preference.

The narrative structure of a transmedia campaign, “Social media isn't just one platform whether in an entertainment or product marketing but it's a change with people. They've environment, must have the ability to offer a connected got a lot of platforms that are vying version of the story while also standing on its own for their attention. What brands have independently of the other platforms in which the experience will take place. Therefore, creating an endcome to realize is that this becomes a to-end transmedia narrative has to be done on the huge factor in their content creation drawing board before even heading to the production strategy.” department. Not only the story arc but how it ideally plays out across platforms starting with primary or John Hartman, Partner and dominant platform. Many other factors not directly Transmedia Producer for Robot 22 related to the plot or characters must also be considered. Marketers really need to know what the critical experience path of the story is, taking into account that crossing platforms already provides dimensions to the story and the experience itself based on how they transact activities with content and interact with each other. Planning the dominant message path can only go so far. The actual path chosen by the consumer and the sequence of platforms may be significantly different than the intended path designed. The table below (figure 3) provides some basic storytelling elements that can be used to map out the story path and experience of the community. It also notes some key impacts and considerations to the transmedia campaign setup and execution. Planning each element

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Transmedia Marketing Playbook
A guide to theory and practice of marketing in the participatory culture

establishes the storytelling backbone of the campaign and introduces marketers to the next critical consideration: the community.

Figure 3: Storytelling elements (based on Elements of Digital Storytelling, University of Minnesota, 2005)

Brian Marr, Director of Strategy at Smashing Ideas, notes that “building a narrative across each piece of the marketing mix can make the engagements more compelling and deepens the connection with your target.” Interest in the story idea is what causes the community to develop. The community in turn participates in how the base story (message) should be extended. This could be depth of context, character, and complexity of story, history, or side stories that add insight to the main narrative. So understanding the connection between the story creating the community and the community participating in the story is vital to design, execution, and success of a transmedia campaign.
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Transmedia Marketing Playbook
A guide to theory and practice of marketing in the participatory culture

The Community One of the most critical elements for success of a transmedia marketing project is the community. With the overwhelming number of marketing campaigns fighting for consumer’s time, a transmedia initiative has to do more than just catch an individual’s attention; it has to retain attention with a storyline and content able to provide an experience worthy of devotion. Not everyone is going to explore the full length and breadth of a transmedia experience. Those who actually do, become true fans. That’s the community. Community is also the value (ROI) of the transmedia marketing investment. Not specifically their ‘eyeballs’ or the impressions that can be counted but how much engagement they have with the brand—devoted attention and participation in the stories and communities. How can that kind of community be formed? In this digital “global village,” as Marshall McLuhan called it, the audience chooses what gets their attention, expects direct, tailored interactive experience that inspires them to participate, engage and become active as crowdsourcing co-creators, not just spectators. A What makes community is not community collects and connects around the narrative, age, gender, income, or other follows it, supports it, interacts with it and last but not demographics traditionally least, when appropriate - contributes to it. used to segment and target consumers; it is a common Douglas Heidland, community manager for the Valemont interest, connection with and Commons fan site, notes, “What fans bring to the table is ability to participate in an the ability to develop and deploy additional assets outside idea—the branded story. of the budget.” Marketers must decide how to leverage those assets that spring up spontaneously and how much of that to let audiences manage on their own. This may require devising a plan for how to react to critical user feedback or even “hacking” as they respond to and engage with a transmedia campaign or world. As Friedman advises, to create a community, brands must create a space for their audience where they are (i.e. the media and platforms they use) and give them a purpose. After identifying the space of choice, marketers must provide a clear way for the community to actualize their purpose. This takes audiences beyond passively absorbing whatever marketing message is conveyed to them at a particular time in a particular place to engaged participants. The platform Media platforms such as the web, mobile, Facebook and similar create points of access to the narratives in a story while contributing their own unique experience and functionality. “Ideally, each medium makes its own unique contribution to the unfolding of the story.” (Jenkins, 2006)
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Transmedia Marketing Playbook
A guide to theory and practice of marketing in the participatory culture

Similar to the story itself, media platforms—whether traditional or digital mediums of exchange—used in a transmedia marketing campaign convey various levels of emotion and intimacy to the community (see figure 4).

Figure 4: Community intimacy by media platform Whether there are two or ten, media platforms are not to be chosen randomly or by following popular trends. Digital and/or non-digital platforms should be selected according to the overall experience(s) the campaign intends the target audience to live.

Do transmedia campaigns need to feature a mobile app or engagement platform?
It depends on the community and their transaction needs. With half of all Americans now owning a smartphone (Nielsen, March 29, 2012), serious consideration of how they spend their time in the mobile space can help answer this question. Google found that 77 percent of TV viewers had another device in hand, often using that device to search for more information about what they were watching. Even more significant to marketers, the research showed that people are more apt to accomplish tasks spontaneously with a smartphone in hand (80 percent versus 20 percent planned) than they are with a PC or laptop device (52 percent spontaneous versus 48 percent planned). Understanding that consumers often want to search and transact via mobile devices when already engaged in related content on another media platform, can help marketers plan how much transaction based functionality should go into their mobile presence.”

How can the right platforms be chosen? Taking hold on a trending technology platform isn’t the starting point of creating a transmedia project. The whole effort should be planned, laid out, and developed from story to community and then appropriate distribution platforms. Selection criteria of a particular media platform should be based on its ability to enhance the story, audience preferences, and enable consumers to find the narratives and interact with others. Not every media platform will serve any one particular transmedia project. Hot trend or not, introducing a platform that doesn’t fit the community creates barriers for them exploring and enjoying the story experience. To that end, understanding the media behaviors of the community is critical to planning the campaign. These are generally current behaviors but also involve those that the community would be naturally inclined to use.

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Transmedia Marketing Playbook
A guide to theory and practice of marketing in the participatory culture

Fortunately many media platforms are increasingly becoming ubiquitous for a consumer, which means marketers don’t have to recreate these channels. That said, if the marketer doesn’t choose wisely which transaction platforms will best involve the audience, the desired transmedia exchange may never take root. In summary, a transmedia marketing strategy starts out the same as any other marketing project. Those fundamentals don’t change for the marketer. Setting objectives drives the decisions on who, what how and why the campaign is being created. What’s different with transmedia marketing is the story and the experience is intended to generate a community of fans for the brand and its products or services. Understanding the behaviors of the audience will help the marketer determine what platforms should be used and how to measure the engagement and adoption of the community with the idea of the story.

PLATFORMS TO SELECT  Native to audience behavior.  Complimentary to the structure and content of the narrative.  Enable communication (intimacy and emotion) between the brand and the consumer.

Planning To Execute Assuming the campaign objectives, story, and community have been planned with clear key performance indicators (KPIs) and other success measurements in mind now comes the time to kick off these initiatives. And as promising as multi-channel engagement may be, marketers need to make sure they are able to commit and execute at a tactical level. The level of commitment will be transparent to the community, evidenced by things they experience: creative design, user support, cross-media connectedness, and the participatory and interactive nature of transactions for participants. Ultimately, it’s these transactions and how users feel supported throughout that experience that make or break a transmedia marketing initiative. Traditional marketing and advertising campaigns do not often have the kind of complications that accompany a multi-platform engagement strategy. Friedman compares a transmedia experience to live theater, which, when the switch is thrown and people are invited into the story world, all the related elements need to interact almost like a production in front of a live audience. Seldom may there be a dull moment once the production is in full swing. Knowing how to assemble the initiative, manpower, and funds that fuel a campaign sets up the right amount of support and direction for the story transactions and all stages of the project. The following sections identify critical elements to any transmedia execution plan: story transactions, project teams, community management and interaction, timelines, and scope considerations.
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Transmedia Marketing Playbook
A guide to theory and practice of marketing in the participatory culture

Story transactions Tasks and activities invite participation — they are the purpose given to the community. They are essentially transactions that enable the community members to interact, such as build a piece of the story, which marketers have shared with them. They are also the key to tracking and measuring results. For story transactions to work, marketers must see that actions center on ideas and activities that matter from the perspective of the audience. For example, as participants gather critical pieces of information, where should they immediately use or offer up that information within the community? Like clearing a path of least resistance, activities should set forth the natural next steps in the user journey through storytelling, story building, and story sharing. Depending on the campaign timeline, the points of transaction and the transactions themselves can vary to help unveil or construct the story. In the storytelling of Valemont University, the lead character registers to attend the school to uncover what led to her brother’s unsolved death. As the audience watched the episodes unfold, they were enticed to enroll themselves in an online version of the school—a website built to uncover more than what the episodes revealed. The more the participants got involved, the more they could discover and share with others.

Figure 5: Activity paths/user journeys across transmedia platforms
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Transmedia Marketing Playbook
A guide to theory and practice of marketing in the participatory culture

As figure 5 shows, thinking in terms of transmedia activity paths can help marketers plan not only what platforms can be useful but also the timing of introducing various platforms, content, and actions, keeping in mind that audience members may enter at any stage in the storytelling campaign. Ideally, business objectives facilitate strategic paths of audience engagement with a slant towards entertainment and engagement as they perceive it and value it. Otherwise, why would they engage? The options for audience participation are open. Many transmedia campaigns may not be set up to utilize network television entertainment, but that shouldn’t stop marketers from creatively telling stories through any combination of online, social, video, event, and print marketing channels as appropriate. Project teams Considering what talent and skill sets are needed for the project, marketers need to consider how to support the desired experience. As the campaign launches, who will build and maintain an app or a microsite? Will a full-time community manager be required and how will that person interface with content writers on a day-to-day basis? This can go well beyond responding to and engaging with fan comments. In the case of the Old Spice “The Man Your Man Could Smell Like” campaign, managers were curating submitted questions, passing them off to creative teams to be quickly turned into video responses that matched and perpetuated the campaign message.

By virtue of the rich transmedia community experience, a transmedia project team will likely span and work across departmental boundaries within an organization or it may require outsourcing for additional agency support. An agency can offer specialized media platform services like rich media, mobile web and apps, social presence development, and intellectual property management.

These types of marketing projects call for new skills and much more collaboration and coordination than what traditional marketing projects require. Transmedia forces a mobile design expert, for example, to design not only for that single platform’s activities but what the activity path experience will be and how it complements and enables movement to and from other platforms. It forces a customer care team to need to assess where a challenged user is in his journey through the transmedia space. The project may require 24/7 support, new analytics tools, or other business processes that were not needed before. If a new community participant is introduced to the campaign on Facebook and YouTube before registering on the web portal, how will user data be collected from the platforms and then reported—as one user or as three?

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Transmedia Marketing Playbook
A guide to theory and practice of marketing in the participatory culture

The following table illustrates how potential team members’ skill sets may need to expand to support transmedia requirements. Role Traditional Marketing Project Needs Linear narrative Standard website reporting metrics Limited user entry points Prescribed transactions Website experience Amplified Needs with Transmedia Marketing Diversified, synchronized story telling Unique tagging Tracking users across platforms Multiple user entry points Varied transactions Cross-platform user experience Peer-based reward system Promotional Manager Media buying Search marketing Business development Product placement advertising Third party site marketing Figure 6: Comparative roles and skill requirements Community management and interaction As with traditional marketing, transmedia campaigns may aim to reach many target audiences. Once a community has formed it must be nurtured and managed to help keep the momentum and the participation. In addition to customers, other potential audiences— including business partners, shareholders, industry advocates, and other constituents—may have interest in the story to be told and could actively join in the conversation. Planning for this ongoing community management is essential, anticipating where the the discussion might go or interactions that a transmedia campaign starts. Depending on the strategy and objectives, the campaign may or may not want to allow departure from the planned storyline or experience and have to correct course. Another mark of a community-friendly campaign is the ability to reward “shining stars” that bring a positive influence and help perpetuate the good of the campaign or the brand itself behind the campaign. How can devoted fans be best acknowledged? During the Old Spice campaign, active Twitter participants were rewarded with personalized videos posted to the campaign’s YouTube channel. Ford partnered with influential local bloggers for its Escape
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Content Writer Data Analyst

UX Designer

Transmedia Marketing Playbook
A guide to theory and practice of marketing in the participatory culture

Routes campaign to get insider access to contestants and help spread word of the show to a wider audience. How the transmedia team is equipped to respond to the 24/7 community needs of the world it has created will be an indication of its planning and foresight. What encouragements or support might the community need if there are problems with features and media platforms? Are there “Ambassadors” (generally top fans that advocate for a brand) can be recruited help answer community questions and shared their experiences to broaden the common knowledge base. Timelines Knowing in advance the target lifespan of the campaign helps a transmedia team scope and schedule their efforts (see figure 7). This can often be done simply by determining the story arc and the finale and planning to introduce media platforms at the right time to offer the functionality for story transactions.

Figure 7: Sample transmedia timeline For some campaigns, affixing an endpoint is not necessary. The story continues as long as the community uses the resource. For Ford Escape Routes, the story’s natural conclusion was the
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Transmedia Marketing Playbook
A guide to theory and practice of marketing in the participatory culture

announcement of the winning team. After that point, the site became an archive of content and what transpired with new data entry disabled. Some content strategy decisions can still be made on the fly based on how the brand story or campaign evolves with user involvement. However, in many cases, marketers may choose to plot out the entire timeline of the campaign from the beginning and put a cap on the ending. Scope considerations After planning for story transactions, the project team skillsets, community management, and the timeline to implement, marketers can plot the budget for the campaign. Budget and scope put bookends on the project from start to finish. A good place to start scoping the work required is to identify where the brand/organization already has a presence and build from there. If it’s seen as an extension or a restatement of what is already familiar, transmedia can play right into audience acceptance. MTV executives realized their audience spent time on three media screens—television, computer, and mobile devices—and embraced the Valemont story’s ability to play to those strengths. A combination of short television episodes (2-3 minutes each), the Valemont University website, and an online alternate reality game on the website aimed at different groups and engagement levels with the audience. In scoping, marketers need to ask questions such as:       How many people are targeted through the campaign goals? Do the campaign goals focus on a specific region, market segment, or national/international reach? How much may be spent on media buys, and how much will earned media balance the campaign’s public visibility? What content writers can effectively create, perpetuate, and further develop the story with the target audience? What systems need to be in place to measure transactions and KPIs according to these business goals? How much is required to staff the right level of support at all stages of the timeline?

Reviewing again the business goals can help size and fund the right amount of effort. No matter how impressive or innovative any technology or method of interactivity may be, if it doesn’t facilitate media storytelling tied to KPIs, it’s nonessential.

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Transmedia Marketing Playbook
A guide to theory and practice of marketing in the participatory culture

KPIs and Measuring Success How can the success of a transmedia campaign be measured? How will its impact be realized? That all depends on the measures of success laid out at the outset. It is crucial to determine, well before launching the campaign, what is to be achieved and the return on investment. Marketing managers may choose “old school” KPIs, such as an increase in the sales of a product. Or, they can be more complex to measure, such as increasing the share of voice in the online conversation as compared to that of competitors.

ROI should be determined in terms of meeting the business objectives. Concluding the campaign as intended may in itself be as important as KPIs that are Nina Bargeil, community manager measured through the duration of the endeavor. for Valemont Whether there is a definitive endpoint or, if at some point the transmedia world will be turned over to the audience/users to inhabit without brand involvement, either eventuality should be determined before the campaign begins. Measurable KPIs reflect user activity, which is often the nearest indication of changes in attitude. Brian Marr, Director of Strategy at Smashing Ideas, Inc., notes that “a large portion of the industry wants to measure actions. The number of people who took an action that led to a sale is still easier to quantify.” In the end, any type of return depends on the specific objectives and audience responses of the campaign, such as:         Earned target number of marketing material downloads. Achieved target number of product trials. Increased brand awareness. Increased fan base (e.g., communities on/offline devoted to the brand’s evolution that did not previously exist, such as 10,000 Facebook fans). Increased share of voice (e.g., brand gains conversation space compared to competitors). Content, story, news, etc. shared by audience including influence from key people in the community. Achieved target video views or uploaded user video responses. Achieved target units sold.
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“For transmedia to start really being successful we have to start quantifying things. We need to have metrics. Not simply registrations but activity data. Real metrics about engagement are what's needed.”

Transmedia Marketing Playbook
A guide to theory and practice of marketing in the participatory culture

Relating again to the transmedia marketing execution model, campaigns with a planned social engagement objective can be measured based on how actively the audience participated. Campaigns based on business economics can reveal customer commitments based on sales transactions experienced. Brand marketing based campaigns can drive conversation which shows audience loyalty through the sentiments expressed. And successful campaigns that focus on delivering information for public good can be identified by behavior changes and education. When campaigns are accountable to business objectives, measured KPIs make clear the resulting impact on the community. Challenges with Transmedia Marketing Many challenges for a transmedia marketing campaign are no different than other marketing programs. However, there are unique challenges that transmedia will introduce to marketers. The following are examples of some of the more critical challenges but by no means represent an exhaustive list.     Audience understanding that the story is spread out across platforms and taking discovery initiative. Potential change in direction (loss of content control) away from key idea/theme by community. Complexity of cross-platform interactions and activities. Long-term resource commitment and coordinated approach across an organization – tied up teams means less ability to start and manage new work during the life of the program. Expanded duties and responsibilities of key project team roles. “Catching the lighting” – good ideas don’t always mean success. Exit strategy for the program – what happens to the community so carefully built and nurtured? Continual growth of new channels and device choices – for longer running programs the community may move/shift to new platforms not included in initial planning. Financial constraints and ROI accountability

    

While these challenges are not necessarily ”blockers” to using transmedia, they need to be identified, discussed and considered up front in the decision-making and planning stage to avoid disruptions to the story, audience platforms, and KPIs. Conclusions Traditional one-to-many marketing messages fall short in connecting with their intended audiences. In large part the shifts in consumers to the participatory culture and everyday
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Transmedia Marketing Playbook
A guide to theory and practice of marketing in the participatory culture

multi-screen media behaviors causes mass-media advertising and marketing to fall on deaf ears. The consumer controlled, multi-screen world we live in today necessitates that marketers consider new methods to invigorate their brand message and capture consumer interest. Transmedia marketing is a brand communications strategy that can help brands reach these consumers. It involves synchronous multi-platform and multi-level community engagement and participation. Rather than a one-size-fits-all “pitch” message, transmedia campaigns consist of telling a story to build a devoted community of fans with platforms that fit naturally with audience expectations. Transmedia marketing is more complex than traditional marketing and presents new challenges to marketers. The connected nature of participants and media platforms requires more upfront campaign planning and management to deliver a meaningful experience while ensuring the campaign can track and measure KPIs, deliver on the business objectives and provide ROI. It affects project team collaboration as well as their roles and responsibilities, timelines, budgets, KPI’s, and requires community management practices. Transmedia clearly does not suit every marketing initiative, but it provides marketers a way to connect well with today’s participatory culture. By following this playbook, brand marketers leverage synchronized storytelling and focus on community relationships actions, not just eyeballs and impressions, for measurable business impact.

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Transmedia Marketing Playbook
A guide to theory and practice of marketing in the participatory culture

References Jenkins, H. 2006. Convergence Culture: Where Old and New Media Collide. New York University Press. PewResearchCenter Publications, 2009. Generations Online in 2009. Retrieved online on December 1, 2012 from http://pewresearch.org/pubs/1093/generations-online . University of Minnesota, Institute for New Media Studies 2005. Elements of Digital Storytelling Retrieved on line on December 1, 2012 from http://www.inms.umn.edu/projects/elements.html

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Transmedia Marketing Playbook
A guide to theory and practice of marketing in the participatory culture

About MCDM The Master of Communication in Digital Media gives professionals the necessary tools to understand and exploit the fast-changing world of media technology and distribution. The MCDM provides students the opportunity to study the economic, political, social and cultural impact of these new communication technologies. In this way, they will learn what is driving this digital media revolution — and why. This is key intelligence for anyone looking to advance his or her career through the use of media innovation. The program stays abreast with developments in the workplace through an External Advisory Board consisting of leading digital media communication professionals. Directed and taught by Department of Communication faculty, the MCDM maintains the rigorous academic standards of the University of Washington Graduate School. Courses are based on the theory and practice of the communication discipline. The MCDM program focuses on:    Social Media (community and distribution) Storytelling (effective content creation) The business of digital media in communication (revenue models, marketing and regulation)

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Transmedia Marketing Playbook
A guide to theory and practice of marketing in the participatory culture

Additional Transmedia Case Study Information Old Spice – “The Man Your Man Could Smell Like” BMW – “The Hire” Audi – “The Art of the Heist” Coke – “Happiness Factory” Mattel – “Barbie and Ken Reunited”

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