Crossmedia

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Cross Media (also known as cross-media, cross-media entertainment, cross-media communication, transmedia) is a media property, service, story or experience distributed across media platforms using a variety of media forms. It refers to the journey or linkages across devices and through forms and is most evident in branded entertainment, advertising, games and quest based forms such as Alternate Reality Games where there are a range of dependencies between the media placed across devices and fragments there-of. There are potentially four main categories[1] or levels of cross-media:

Interaction[edit]

Cross-media communications are integrated, interactive experiences that occur across multiple media, with multiple authors and have multiple styles. The audience becomes an active part in a cross-media experience. It is the experiences that occur across Internet, video, film, broadcast, cable TV, mobile-devices, DVD, print, and radio. The new media aspect of the “cross-media experience” typically involves some level of audience interactivity.[2]

Categories of Cross-Media[edit]

Cross-media 1.0 – Pushed.[edit]

The same or minor variations of content is placed or pushed onto different platforms in different forms. E.g.: A minor re-edit of the audio from a TV programme can be used for a podcast, adapted in scipt for a website or in its simplest form exactly the same content is delivered on multiple platforms such as mobile, TV and broadband web. The user in this case could create their own cross-media linkages by watching half of the episode on mobile and the rest on broadband. This level does not have strong cross-media triggers but may promote the same content on another platform.

A good simple example of this is the world first Forget The Rules which was a weekly short form drama delivered simultaneously on TV, Broadband Web and 3G mobile.

Cross-media 2.0 – Extras.[edit]

This is content produced alongside a main production and delivered on different platforms from the main production. This 'extra' cross-media content is naturally different from the main property and not necessarily dependent on it - temporally or editorially. For example it could be a mobile video-captured behind the scenes of a feature film, destined and delivered in segments on the mobile phone. It could be a flash game strongly based on a radio drama or a book back story delivered through posters in train stations. The most obvious incarnation is the ubiquitous making of feature that may be delivered only via video web portals.

A good recent example is the various transformations of a property called Thursday's fictions. This started as a stage production, was published as a book, then was turned into a surreal dance film, and more recently had a Second Life presence created for it. Each version played to the strengths of each platform but none were dependent on each other contextually or from a user journey perspective.[1]

Cross-media 3.0 – Bridges.[edit]

The truest form of cross-media where the story or service structure is specifically authored to drive the audience using strong Call-To-Actions, across media devices to continue the journey. The content placed on the other platform is critical to staying in touch with the experience and the narrative bridges tease you towards investigating or moving to another media form/platform. Obvious examples include a TV show that ends suddenly and gives you a URL to explore more. It may also be an SMS that teases and points you towards a live concert in a city square which then leads you to a TV show, then to a podcast then to subscription emails and so on. The trigger, or bridge, is the critical component of this in motivating the cross-media action.

A very strong example of this is the 30 second Mitsubishi Super Bowl XXXVIII TV ad which showed objects being thrown out of a truck in front of two trailing race cars, an accident avoidance test. It paused on a cliff-hanging moment (as two cars were thrown out) and invited the audience to go to SeeWhatHappens.com. Millions did.[3]

Cross-media 4.0 – Experiences. (transmedia)[edit]

Cross-media 4.0 is an aggregation of the first three levels. This is where the content is distributed across many platforms in a non-linear way. The producer is ‘hands-off’- in that they have created an environment, much like a game, that the participant/s ‘lives’ inside of, following their own path and therefore personalizing the experience. A cross-media 4.0 property is co-creative, collaborative play with the audience across many devices, which evolves and grows a life of its own. Story Environments are a key part of the mix in driving the inhabitants of the 'experience' across devices or around the narrative fragments (whether advertorial, entertainment or dramatic). Although likely to be heavily authored; the cross-media triggers and invitations are part of the experience in terms of the audience creating their own bridges. The best examples of this are Alternate Reality Games and it incorporates elements of the first three levels but is likely to be dynamic in that producers will have to be constantly bridge building in response to where audiences are travelling.

Crossmedia and Transmedia[edit]

Two concept that are often thought to be equivalent are cross-media and transmedia.

Starting from the prefix cross- , there is the indication of movement, of action across something, and the idea of intersection. Hence, the word cross-media would carry on the essential meaning of a variety of media that intersect each other. Given that this could describe crossmedia as well as transmedia it could create some confusion. According to scientists they can be distinguished as follows:

Cross-media communications are integrated, interactive experiences that occur across multiple media, with multiple authors and that have multiple styles. The audience becomes an active part in a cross-media experience. It is experiences that occur across the Internet, video and film, broadcast and cable TV, mobile devices, DVD, print, and radio. The new media aspect of the “cross-media experience” typically involves some level of audience interactivity.[4]

There are several characteristics that can be traced to the term transmedia, such as being a kind of communication in which the storyline interacts with the audience from one medium to the next; the ability to build content over a variety of media; and the capability to exist not just by the juxtaposition of different devices and platforms, but to spread the common goal on the different platforms throughout an integrated production.

While the definition is flexible, most often transmedia refers to content generated on different platforms, that are integrated to one story. It includes key story information over a variety of platforms, each used for what it does best; multiple entry points into the storyworld; and the opportunity for collective action rather than passive consumption. A transmedia story normally involves different dimensions, for instance, narrative spaces (location, characters, time, etc.), number and relative timing of the platforms (sequential, parallel, simultaneous, non-linear), and type of audience involvement (passive, active, interactive, collaborative).[5][6]

Crossmedia communication[edit]

Crossmedia communication is communication in which the storyline will invite the receiver to cross-over from one medium to the next. Making it possible to transform from one-dimensional communication (sender -> receiver(s)) to multi-dimensional communication (sender(s) <-> receiver(s)). Good crossmedia communication will enhance the value of communication: The level and depth of (message) involvement will be more personal and therefore more relevant and powerful.[7]

Advantages can be: 1. Financial profits can be gained through equal or decreasing costs for the same or better communication effects with single medium communication. It is possible to shift costs for communicating from the sender to the receiver if the story is attractive enough for the receiver to want to interact with it. 2. Deepening relations between story (teller) and "receivers" on several levels of communication

Examples are: Pop Idol, Big Brother, Popstars the Rivals

Some context to the "crossmedia field" The shifting balance in the powers between sender - medium - receiver, makes for communication to start crossing over from: - Only senders (Formerly Known As MassMedia) sending out communication to 'receivers' (Formerly Known As Audience) reacting to, interacting with, participating in and co-creating with the information (story) presented to receivers. Receivers become senders, senders become receivers.

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