How Do You Measure Transmedia?

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Whoever has the definition wins a prize.

Sorry, that's not a teaser headline with the answer spelled out here. It's a call-to-action.

Seriously, how do you measure transmedia?

bbgThat was the question Robert Bole, director of innovation at the Broadcasting Board of Governors, asked earlier this month at the Digital Analytics Association's Symposium in Reston, VA.

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Transmedia is the art of telling a story across multiple media. You launch a TV show, have the characters tweet, and encourage fans to find out more on the website and when they play the mobile game.

Different parts of the story are revealed in different media. Different types of story elements are appropriate for each medium. Individually, each one stands on its own, but taken together, the entire story is revealed in all its glory - including collaborative content created by fans.

daaBole came to the DAA Symposium for help. He wanted to know how we - the digital analytics industry - were going to help him determine which media were best for what content. How to tell if the story was "working." How to measure this whole, new, multidimensional engagement in order to figure out what makes a good transmedia story, told well.

What's his interest?

Bole manages the strategy and operations of digital distribution platforms, as well as leads the development of next-generation mobile, social, and video/audio applications. His duties include leading digital media strategy to reach 30+ million weekly global digital audiences of BBG and its networks: the Voice of America, Radio Free Europe, Radio and TV Marti, Radio Free Asia, and the Middle East Broadcasting Networks.

The office he leads looks for the best solutions to the biggest problems in creating, distributing, and improving news and information in global news markets. His job is to find those journalists most able to apply innovation in digital media and get them what they need to implement.

And that means, he has to know how to measure the effectiveness of those journalists using those innovations.

At the Symposium, Bole laid out the big, broad brushstrokes, leaving the details to us:

  • Narrative attribution. Attributing which story element (or media mix) converted the audience to an engaged, multi-channel user.
  • Conversion and pathways. Measuring the audience arc across the narrative; determining what are "optimal" paths for constructing narrative arcs.
  • Segmentation format feedback. Measuring the success of format in engaging and propelling narrative arc by audience type.
  • Quantifiable impacts. Measuring audience participation across the narrative arc. (The "What do people do?" problem.)
  • Engaged loyalty. Finding out if additional context and information lead to more informed, loyal, and frequent users.
  • Audience-created enhancement. Measuring how audience adds value through contribution to the narrative arc.

So, on behalf of Robert Bole, I ask you: what sort of metrics are going to help him better understand and then compare and contrast the impact of a story that starts with a TV series and a hyper-local treasure hunt, and ends when the last surviving character appears at your breakfast table via Google Glass and delivers the final clue to the proper shape of the magic talisman for your 3D printer, so you can discover the undisclosed location and unlock and upload the resolution of the whole story?

I'm all ears (mailto:jsterne@targeting.com).

Image on home page via Shutterstock.

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