George Ruiz: Transmedia Challenges and Opportunities

Last night I attended the Transmedia Meetup here in LA. The guest speaker was George Ruiz, Head of New Media and Senior Vice-President Business Affairs at ICM. George did a great job at summarizing the current challenges and opportunities of transmedia, and I’d like to repeat them here in case you weren’t able to make last night’s meetup.

Transmedia Challenges

1. Determining audience behavior: The audience wants to participate, and they make their own choices in what they want to consume, when, where, and how. At the same time, you can’t make your audience jump too many hoops to consume your content, despite all of your participation and interactivity efforts. ARG’s (Alternate Reality Games) are a great thing in theory, for example, but many consumers simply don’t have the time or willingness to get involved with certain media content to such a large extent and detail.

2. Being visible: It becomes increasingly harder to be found in the constantly growing media market. One of the best ways forward are viral videos, but so far there is no formula to guarantee a video going viral. Here George recommends teaming up with existing influential personalities on social networks and to collaborate with them in order to become visible.

3. Educating your audience: Transmedia is not just a new concept for producers. It is also a new way of thinking for audiences, even if they may experience a natural predisposition towards it. So tell your audience what transmedia is, and that you have more content available for them to enjoy. Tutorials, rewards, and such are also helpful. As George puts it: “Remember, you are always competing against porn.”

4. Immediacy: Only hard-core fans are willing to wait long pieces of time for the next piece of content. Mainstream audiences become easily distracted and/or impatient. So ensure that your content is immediate, and it is not spaced out too much.

5. Following trends: Don’t. You’ll only be a copy. Find out why the last trend was so successful, what characteristics it had, and then be original and innovative while learning from past trends.

6. Measuring success: Everyone defines success differently, and so it must be defined differently on a case-to-case basis. For example, an artist may be happy enough if large amounts of people see his/her work, while corporations need actual sale and revenue increases to define success. So find out why you are creating and maintaining your transmedia project, and what kind of goals you are trying to achieve, and then measure actual success against that.

 

Opportunities: 

1. Multi-dimensional and non-linear storytelling: Conventional, linear storytelling is no longer needed. You can now tell any story how you want, in the depth you want, and in the order you want. An immense opportunity for artists and creatives.

2. Experiential storytelling: You can now try anything you want. There are virtually no limits. Some transmedia projects might work, others won’t, but there are no rules what you can and cannot attempt. And thanks to new media, gate-keepers are vanishing quickly as well.

3. Deep storytelling: No more format and time constraints. You can continue your story from one platform on any other platform, and offer as much depth and background detail as you want.

4. Personalized storytelling: Social media offer an immense opportunity for dialogue and for incorporating ‘real’ stories, and narratives based on audiences’ personal stories.

5. Real-time storytelling: Thanks to new media’s feedback functions, be it as comments or social media streams, it is now possible to not only respond to audiences’ opinions of your narrative, but also to incorporate real-life happenings, from news, to weather reports, and trending topics. And thanks to new media, there are also no more time and place restrictions that could hinder real-life storytelling.

6. Creating entire universes: Transmedia allows you to think BIG. You can create entire universes and worlds, brand-new sagas and epics that would previously never have fitted into just one medium. Now that you can take it transmedia, it can be as big as you want it to be.

 

George’s talk was great in covering the basics. However, he did not answer the old question of how to monetize transmedia storytelling. While I haven’t been able to find a fool-proof formula for this problem either, I have put together some important economic aspects to consider in the next few blog posts.