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The Emerging Standard of Multi-Source Media
By: Ryan Stoldt
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Short-term trends are frequent in the digital industry. Social media sites come and go. Internet lingo changes daily. Viral videos fade from cultural relevance as quickly as "Napoleon Dynamite” dance videos. All of these digital trends ultimately follow a specific pattern; they launch, rapidly rise to success, and then either subside or become a standard. If the trend becomes a standard, then its final stage into societal prevalence is the move into other digital platforms.
A recent example of this can be seen in the “Harlem Shake” videos. Launching last week, the original video inspired thousands of reproductions from amateurs, sports teams, and organizations around the country. Only one week in, the video is probably still on the rise to the success stage. Once the video reaches its peak, it will most likely subside to another cultural phenomenon.
A form of digital media that has successfully made the transition from launch to standardization is multi-source media. Major advertisers have used multiple forms of interacting media for years. Consider every hashtag recently seen in commercials. Consider QR codes in magazine ads. Many websites solely function on the basis of multiple media sources. Coca-Cola set up a website during Super Bowl XLVII where consumers watched polar bears watching commercials and reacting to them. These “one time event” sites aren’t the only websites incorporating multiple sources, though. Look at how professional sports have adapted their websites by adding pitch-by-pitch analyses and stats to supplement watching the game on TV.
Last Fall, multi-source media moved to the next stage by transitioning into a new platform. Nintendo released its newest video game console, the Wii U, which had one major game changer: two screens with differing purposes. Many people scoffed at the idea of balancing their focus on two screens that serve completely different purposes. Nintendo took the risk on a multi-screen system because they saw the digital trend emerging with large societal support. This basic move showed the first major step toward multi-source media making a transition into lasting existence. It is now the digital industry’s job to figure out exactly what this means for marketing to consumers.
Multi-source media is here to stay, and the first advertising campaign to successfully “wow” consumers will forever change the advertising and marketing industry. Classic marketing says a consumer must hear a message three times before it will stick with them. As organizations move toward perfecting multi-source media, the goal of hitting a consumer with the same messaging three times becomes easier and easier. With a well put-together campaign, the consumer could singularly hit all three messages via different media unwittingly. To do this, agencies will need to get truly accustomed to using multi-source media before it becomes event more prevalent. Time to start playing more Nintendo.

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About the Author
Ryan Stoldt is a digital strategist with a B.A. in Integrated Marketing Communications from Wichita State University. Find him online here
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