Making a mark and getting the dough.

December 30, 2011 § Leave a comment

And on to the final installment of the the breakdown of Screen Australia and StoryLabs’ Multiplatform Storytelling seminar. The third bracket of the day was penned Multi-Platform Business and was expected to consist of very dry content. To the contrary, this bracket was among my most favourite, and dare I say it, the presentation given by Jennifer Wilson titled Making Your Property Happy: Using the multitude of multi-platform business models was the most useful of the day. But I’m getting ahead of myself.

Antony Reed (Australia) is a veteran of the interactive entertainment industry. With global experience in game development and publishing, Antony has been a marketing brain behind some of the world’s biggest games franchises, winning numerous awards for his campaigns. Today, Antony is the CEO of the Game Developers’ Association of Australia and is tasked with advocating the interests of the sector to government, educational, financial, and commercial institutions as well as promoting Australian game development talent internationally. (courtesy of seminar printed program)

Tony, in his presentation Designing Your Consumers: Testing, Commercialising, Marketing, spoke about games generally and explained that users/gamers/audiences are spoilt for choice. There is so much content out there that we’ve reached a stage of oversaturation. When this happens, people revert back to the brands they know and trust, which is why it is very important to create a brand.

Brands (established intellectual property):

  • dominate entertainment
  • make money
  • and create opportunity

And while there is a general conception when you’re creating you make a work as much as for yourself as the consumer, Reed emphasised that you must make games for the consumer, not yourself if you want them to have any sort of market.

To conclude the day, Jennifer Wilson gave her presentation Dude, where’s my money? Key Concepts in Delivering ROI in Digital. I predicted this session would be the most difficult to concentrate during because it was less about the creative stuff and all about the logistics of getting a transmedia or digital project running. However, Wilson’s presentation was fascinating and made a ridiculous amount of sense.

Jennifer Wilson (Australia) is a Director of The Project Factory – a multi-platform media company. She teaches courses in multi-platform, trans- and convergent media and works with leaders across all forms of media to help them understand the connected, networked world. She has authored books and papers covering key concepts, business models, rights issues and new ways of thinking about copyright. Jennifer is a member of SPAA, on the board of AIMIA and chairs the Mobile Industry Group. (courtesy of seminar program)

Wilson explained that before beginning or launching a project it is important to determine your Key Performance Indicators (KPI). This involves working out what, in terms of this particular project, signals “success”. Are you hoping to achieve awareness? Generate an audience? Or revenue? Establishing your KPI means that “success” becomes a far less allusive long-term goal.

A business model must be sustainable. This means that you must be able to sustain it through all stages of your project – the development stage, the production stage, the management stage (and the evergreen stage). Wilson gave rough funding estimate for each important stage.

Wilson advises that the development stage will require anywhere between $30k and $50k which roughly equates to 15% of your overall budget. This money funds the production of your “sales tool” or prototype which will enable you to get more funding for the production stage. In addition to your own money, the development stage is funded by the “Three Fs” – friends, family and fools. Depending on where you live, there are also state digital funds and federal screen agencies that are worth looking into. Another funding option is crowd funding. Rather than simply using this stage to raise funds, this stage can be considered an opportunity to create an audience for your project.

You’re ready for the production stage, when you’ve raised the money required, which is approximately 50% of your overall budget. You’ve received money from broadcasters, distributors, brands, partners and agencies all based on the strength and promise of your prototype, but now it’s time to get down to business. 10-15% of your budget needs to be set aside for specifically multiplatform/transmedia development and implementation.

Your project finally goes live, but now comes, what can be, the most important stage of this whole process, the managment stage. In some instances, this stage can take up to 70% of your budget, but can be funded to an extent from production budget reserves.

Wilson made it explicit that there is not one business model that can be applied to digital. Over different stages, you could implement between 10 and 15. She advised that making real money in digital is six months away, but in the mean time there are business models you can implement. The first thing to consider is, who is going to pay for your content? Your audience or those who want your audience? Is merchandise going to supply your revenue? Is sponsorship (Wilson described this as the best model)? Affiliate (selling third party services via your site)? Infomediary (selling data about your audiences/users, list broking)? Wilson explained that advertising really only works for bigger brands, which feeds into Reed’s earlier emphasis on creating a brand for your project.

The business model you adopt should be informed by the form of your project. For example, if you are merely “broadcasting” your own content, advertising can make sense as a model because the content plays out in a linear fashion.

Freemium is a comparatively newer business model. It is the idea of giving something away for free and making users want to give you money for the premium or extra bits. Alternatively, you must make it explicit that a project will eventually not be free and this is only a limited time offer because otherwise users will feel betrayed.

All of Jennifer Wilson’s slides can be downloaded from here.

The day ended with Gary Hayes, Founder of StoryLabs mentioning that his How to Write a Transmedia Production Bible is available for free download from the Screen Australia website. This is a great resource and provides a thorough breakdown of the kinds of things you have to consider when putting together a transmedia project.

Get to it!

 

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