Wednesday, October 13, 2004

Three views on crossmedia communication

Maybe this is a little vain, but I am proud that my definition of crossmedia communication is mentioned in this MGAIN report, which is interesting stuff to read for all you crossmedia thinkers out there.

IST Event 2004 Crossmedia Discussion

My proposal for a networking session on crossmedia on the upcoming IST Event has been approved. I am looking forward to an inspiring discussion, please attend!

IST Event 2004

Today's comments on republished articles

I find regularly people are looking for these articles and cannot find them, now they are online again.

Republishing articles 3: How to make money with crossmedia storytelling

Published in 2003 on Europemedia by Monique de Haas

How to make money with crossmedia storytelling

Now, here is what you must have been waiting for. After that I have analysed the structure of interactive storytelling and discussed the how to’ s, it’s time to show you the money!

Interactive storytelling is done by use of cross media communication. When we look at commercial communication, intelligent cross media communication will;
1. Bring you financial advantage
2. Enlarge and deepen the brand experience for consumers

There are many ways of using interactive storytelling in Business to Business communications, which will be profoundly beneficial in terms of efficiency and effectiveness, but I will start with Business to Consumer communication. Generally seen as the most difficult area to make money using interactive media. Commercial communication in this field is predominated by the work of advertising agencies. To start with: I think that however brilliant Ad agencies may be at producing 30 seconds commercials, they will loose territory to cross media communication. Because…

Instead of just sending a one dimensional advertising message to your target group, with cross media communication, you will be able to enter into a multi dimensional dialogue with your target group(s).

A good commercial, however creative it may be, will only be able to communicate 1 up to 3 unique points about your brand and product. While at the same time and for the same amount of money, you are able to communicate on several information levels at the same time with cross media. Serving several information needs, that different consumers have, at the same time! In other words, you can;
• expose a brand in multiple media channels,
• supply the consumer with diverse information that will influence the attitude towards your brand or product and..
• you may even influence the intention to buy your product.
You can do all that and not pay more than you would for your advertising campaign! It is probable that your advertising agency will not support this view. Making an interactive story is very different from producing a 30 seconds spot. A field where advertising agencies can not service you. You need cross media specialists.

The first advantage of crossmedia communication is that you obtain more and diverse effects with your target group. The second advantage is that you will gain financial advantage. Because you as a narrator are in control over which media channels are being offered to the consumer to engage in the interactive story, you can choose efficient channels like the internet or even, if you wish, make money on the reply consumers give by using premium rate telephony or SMS. So you save on expensive media channels to build reach and contacts and still get the reach and contacts!

In 2003 more advertisers may feel the pressure on their budgets because of the recession. Smart ones start looking into interactive storytelling as a means of getting more of their goals reached for the same amount of money (or maybe even less!),

Republishing articles: 2 The experience of crossmedia communication

Published on Europemedia in 2002 by Monique de Haas

In the midst of the internethype Pine and Gilmore’s “The experience economy” was first published (1999). It gathered large groups of fans in a short period of time. But then the
bubble snapped and distrust against any vision from that period grew. ‘The experience economy is dead’, advertising agencies told their clients (feeling awkward to get out of sync with what was going on). So they proclaimed of the experience economy “It was just a fading vogue…” But that’s why your classical advertising agency is really a dinosaur in disguise. They just don’t get it!

A lot of ‘beautiful’ ideas that didn’t deserve any second thought gathered millions from investors that didn’t get it, but wanted to be in the game.. Advertising agencies told investors that a lot of money needs to be invested in creating the online brand, … of whatever…(which actually is a brand I discovered recently).. Just put a lot of communication budget into it and let our creative interactive department make you a wonderful website, then off course we need to make a great campaign to build the brand…” Sure, you need to invest a lot at first, but then in let’s say two years tops, everybody will be on the internet just looking to get to your website, because dear client you have invested all that money in building your online brand, and that’s why you need to do so..” Well… we all know how that story ended..

Now lets get back to basics. It all starts with a relevant product or service, so that’s something a lot of investors didn’t get (yet). But as they lick their wounds and evaluate their actions, by now they must be older and wiser. Good, because you need to know the rules of the game, in order to get playing. So it actually starts with what you have to tell, your story needs to be relevant for the people if they are willing to give you any of their valuable little time. The story that is, if you are an advertiser, what is your product or service and why is it relevant to people?

Now that we have gathered our strengths for the hard times to come, we need to shift the good ideas from the bad ones and Pine and Gilmore’s “experience economy” belongs to the good ones. I would like to look at it from a crossmedia perspective. As you might probably know I am a propagandist of using stories to give information to people and more precisely I am a strong propagandist of using the structure of stories to guide cross media usage for the public.
Pine and Gilmore proclaim we are transforming from a service economy to an experience economy. We need to look upon business as performing in a theatre and I do agree. Pine and Gilmore are a typical product of their American culture and a lot of the cases they make couldn’t work that way in other environments. That’s because stories are context- limited. To me it is eminently clear, not that we are transforming to an experience economy, but that we have at all times been an experience economy, from the time of Aristotle and probably long before. We are people and we need stories to understand our worlds.

Stories are the food for meaning.

The structure of stories is embedded in our DNA’s, transcended from generation to generation. Crossmedia communication is just a new way of telling stories. Old wine in new bags for that matter. But because of the possibility of large scale interactivity with the story, it is a profound new way of telling stories. While we still tell stories, the way we do is changing in a matter that will affect the structure of stories. Then we get great new bags and maybe really refreshed wine.

With crossmedia communication and interactive scenario’s we try to establish an experience for the people using that scenario. As crossmedia communicators we are directors of experiences, where people make use of different media channels to undergo that experience and to influence the desired outcome of it. Let me make this conclusion, take away ‘The experience economy” out of the dust it is gathered in your bookshelf and read it again, because this book isn’t closed yet..

Republishing articles 1: Rules of interactive storytelling in cross media communication

Published in 2002 on Europemedia by Monique de Haas.

In an interactive scenario the receiver is part of the story. He can give direction to the storyline he wants to consume, or so he will perceive. This perception is crucial, for if you actually give him an totally open role, you may not be able to give direction to your story anymore. In a crossmedia setup, with an open ended role in the story line for your users, it can go anywhere and will lose structure, cohesion and finally meaning, unless you are willing to go into dialogue with every single user. In which case you have created a forum, not an interactive scenario.

A good interactive scenario is able to process the interactive responses of a multitude of users at the same time. This is possible if you give your users a multitude of fixed possibilities to influence the storyline. You will have a story that has several different but fixed storylines from which the user can choose. It will still give the user the perception of choice and the feeling he may actually influence his own storyline, which is true. Because the user has a choice in the interactive story where he has none in a linear story.

Rule # 1: Give the user a multitude of fixed possibilities to alter the storyline.

The narrator decides where the next part of the story will be. As a narrator this is the means by which you can send users from one medium to the next (and back). Going from a passive channel such as television to an interactive medium such as SMS or internet. The narrator can make this restrictive, the user can only go to one medium in order to find the next part of the story, or the narrator can give the user more than one medium where he can find the next storyline. Much may depend on the business model for the interactive scenario.

Rule # 2: The narrator directs the use of mediachannels

Because people differ in their willingness to interact, the interactive story must be layered. With the base layer, for instance a television programm, where viewers can consume a story that is attractive in itself. The interactive story makes an integral part of the television story, you can find deeper meaning and more elaborate information in the interactive channels. You can also do more with the characters in the story or find out more about the events that are happening. If you really want your public to interact you may try to “force” them into interactivity to let the story they are consuming continue. This I would not advise, at this moment, since people still need to get used to interactivity and they certainly do not want to be forced to do things they are unfamiliar with.

Rule # 3 The interactive story is a multi layered story

If you are involved in an interactive scenario it will ideally give you the feeling you have more freedom to participate in the story and to influence the outcome of a plot. This is what you want to achieve as a narrator. In order to get it working however, you need to work very structured and script your interactive story thoroughly. Nothing makes an experience feel less free than if you don’t get a response anymore because the system cannot process your input.

Rule # 4. Freedom in the interactive experience is achieved by a firm direction and structure of the interactive story by the narrator.

These “rules” are for the creator (narrator) of interactive stories and they are not strict rules that you have ot act upon each time in every project. For there will probably be many more exceptions to the rules as we evolve this interactive art of storytelling. Rather these rules are there to let you evaluate your project, if the rules are followed. And when they are not, why you may have a very good reason not to do so.

Thursday, October 07, 2004

:: gamelab ::

Eric zimmerman wrote "rules of play" together with Katie Salen. This book is really one of the building blocks for the education of game developers and actually also elementary for thinking about crossmedia. What they did is take all the technical stuff out of the game descriptions and just described games, paperboard, cardgames and interactive games for what they are and what is the process of building a game. Excellent book! This site is a platform for " exploring narrative content and visual and audio styles that aren't normally found in games."

:: gamelab ::