Do you know the difference between cross-media marketing and transmedia storytelling? What about interactive advertising?
I hadn’t given any of these buzzwords much thought until I started compiling a list of technology-related trends that creative professionals probably need to think about as they try to anticipate where their next opportunities might come from. The more I learn about these trends, the brighter the future looks for creative professionals with a natural gift for conceptual thinking.
Cross-media marketing is defined by InfoTrends as “the use of two or more media types (print, e-mail, Web, mobile, and/or social) in an orchestrated campaign targeting a specific demographic and/or psychographic segment…A cross-media campaign delivers relevant content and a call to action through multiple media simultaneously as an integrated campaign.”
Transmedia storytelling, as explained by JWTIntelligence, “involves narrative threads tailored for different channels (from mobile to big screens, from social to traditional media) and audiences (gamers, readers, Tweeters, etc.)…For brand marketers, this means that rather than striving for consistency across multiple touchpoints, the goal is for different channels to communicate different things (within the overarching strategy), with an emphasis on putting the brand community at the center.”
JWT’s Dean Baker explains it this way: “What we need to do is figure out the story behind the brand, the place it wants to occupy in the consumer’s mind, deconstruct it, make it relevant and reassemble it for the relevant audiences on the appropriate channels. Then, through social media, let the experience and associations grow organically.”
Interactive advertising, as described in the excellent documentation on The Barbarian Group website, is “any advertising that a potential customer can interact with.” While most interactive advertising takes place on the Internet, it could also be advertising on a mobile phone, a kiosk on a salesroom floor, or a billboard on Times Square. Interactive advertising is not human, it is not e-commerce, and it is more than banners and websites. Most importantly, says The Barbarian Group, “It is the one form of advertising that the customer initiates.”
I learned about The Barbarian Group when I read a news item about a billboard they had created that uses facial-recognition technology to interpret the characteristics and movements of viewers and adjust the advertising content accordingly.
Is your mind boggled yet? Mine certainly is.
But the reason I feel optimistic for creatives is because success in all three of these areas will require higher levels of both analytical and conceptual thinking.
For marketing execs (analytical thinkers), these trends add new layers of complexity to planning and measuring integrated marketing strategies.
Marketing-service providers will have to innovate in order to help their clients execute all of the elements of cross-media, transmedia, and interactive campaigns in the most cost-effective, efficient, and timely manner.
Then, it will be left up to conceptual thinkers (the creatives) to come up with the novel ideas and fresh approaches to storytelling that will effectively engage targeted consumers at every point in the process.
This could present some refreshing opportunities for creatives, because so much of the work formerly trusted to creative professionals has been boiled down into “formulas,” then automated in the form of templates and artificial intelligence embedded in graphic-design and image-editing software.
Perhaps because of the sheer volume of fresh content that must be continually fed to the Internet, creative professionals often find themselves regarded more as assembly-line production laborers than as potential contributors of innovative strategies. In my opinion, creative talent is sometimes under-utilized.
Hopefully, creative professionals will find new ways to contribute as marketing (and entertainment) becomes more dependent on finding new ways to construct and deliver coherent and emotionally powerful stories across multiple platforms.
The Barbarian Group defines themselves as “a digital services and creation company that delivers the best possible experience for the consumer through the integrated and disciplined use of the best possible practices, good ideas, people and technology.” The portfolio portion of their website features examples of interactive advertising, including a trade-show backdrop projection wall in which blades of grass sway in a virtual breeze created as visitors walk past. Their Barbaripedia includes a wealth of information about how interactive production differs from traditional advertising and broadcast production. They recommend way to avoid potential pitfalls.
InfoTrends is a worldwide market-research and strategic consulting firm serving the digital-imaging and document solutions industries. Their recent study, entitled “The Cross-Media Direct Marketing Opportunity,” explains how marketing executives are using print, online, mobile, and social media in their businesses.
JWTIntelligence, part of the JWT marketing-communications agency, is described as “a center for provocative thinking.” They describe their mission as follows: “We make sense of the chaos in a world of hyper-abundant information and constant innovation—finding quality amid the quantity.” Their trendletter entitled “Transmedia Rising,” explains why “The days of broadcasting to consumers are over, a new era of entertaining, engaging, and empowering consumers is upon us.” The report highlights examples of transmedia projects such as Mattel’s Ken and Barbie campaign and The Old Spice campaign featuring The Man Your Man Could Smell Like.