In an article in Admap a couple of years back, noted branded content guy Graham Hodge said some very nice things about The Art of Immersion but observed quite rightly that the book "stops short of offering advice to brands." Since then, I've spoken at marketing conferences in cities from London to Lima to Ljubljana and teamed up with Paul Woolmington to launch a day-long exec ed seminar on Digital Storytelling Strategy at Columbia—so I figure it's time to fix that.
To that end I worked with Art Kleiner, the editor of strategy+business, to develop an article that would explain immersive storytelling from a brand perspective. What does it really mean? How does it work? How does it compare with conventional advertising? And what makes it so effective? The result is "The Power of Immersive Media," which just went up on the s+b Website and will appear in print in the spring issue of the magazine. To sum it up, I've developed the downloadable infographic below, which is being published by Columbia's Digital Storytelling Lab.
A little background: When I started writing the book I was focused on how the Internet is changing storytelling, and the potential for near-infinite depth—for immersion—was part of that. But it wasn't until I'd nearly finished writing and had to come up with a title that I realized that "immersion" was the concept that (to paraphrase the Dude in The Big Lebowski) really tied the thing together. It's what Carlton Cuse and Damon Lindelof wanted to achieve with Lost. It's what Disney production chief Sean Bailey had tried to do at LivePlanet. It's what James Cameron hoped to accomplish with 3-D. It's what the otaku longed to attain in their obsessiveness. And it had been staring me in the face all along.
Fast-forward four years and immersiveness is everywhere you look. In theater. In art. And certainly in marketing. We're at a moment when entertainment, marketing, and storytelling are shifting and converging at a startling rate. Sixty years of interruptive advertising on TV are about to give way to an entirely different approach. Marketing's job is to make sure it's both enjoyable and effective—because if it isn't the former, it certainly won't be the latter. Here's my take on how this works and why.
"The Power of Immersion" infographic by Frank Rose is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License. Based on a work at strategy+business.