Content Chameleon - Manipulating Content to Match the Medium

Concept Map

Illinois Jane IllustrationWith so many devices and mediums to consume content, it's no longer viable to assume that the same content can work for all mediums, especially in digital marketing.

At one point in time, there was the big three: TV, print and radio and little else. Now the spectrum ranges from mobile devices to tablets to in-car GPS systems.  At first glance it might seem that this is a negative.  More channels means more ways content has to be manipulated to be productive in those channels, but at the same time it's also an opportunity to use the channels to innovate and enhance content and the experience.

Let's look at an example.  In this case, we have a brand of books starring the hero Illinois Jane (please don't sue me, Lucas Arts).  It's a rich collection of adventures and storytelling that's done in the most traditional way, through the printed novel.  But considering we have so many outlets to digest content, let's look at the differences and strengths to each and see if we can add to the experience.


An Illinois Jane Printed NotebookStarting with the good old print medium.  Why is it still a viable channel for content?  Print is great because it turns the abstract idea in to a physical experience (reading and holding a book).  In this example we have a book bound in a leather jacket that comes with a replica of an ancient artifact. A user can hold these items, smell the leather, keep them on a shelf and read them to their kids. This allows a unique experience that only print can provide.  It's the same story as a paperback novel, bit the experience has been enhanced by giving users:

  •     Tactile, kinetic experience
  •     Nostalgia and a sense of permanence
  •     Ownership and personalization (highlighting, dog-eared pages)



Illinois Jane for TabletLet's jump to the other end of the spectrum and put the same story on a tablet.  Here we can a see a stylized reading interface enhanced by high-resolution graphics. This concept shows a scrubber to allow the image to rotate while the touchable rubies allow users to watch historical videos, all while listening to an embedded mood-fitting soundtrack.  Again, the content is the same story as the paperback novel, but the medium allows us to enhance the message. For our purposes tablets allow:

  •      Rich interaction with visual media
  •      Opportunity for video, audio
  •      Portability
  •      Interactive contextual advertising
  •      Games


Illinois Jane for MobileBacking up again, consider the same story on a mobile device.  A simple, low-bandwidth stylesheet makes the content easily accessible on the go along with optional images. In addition, there is a text-based wiki that allows users to reference characters.  Depending on where they are in the story, the wiki information can be filtered as to not reveal any spoilers.  This content could also be disseminated daily, giving users a little chunk at a time. Other mobile features might be:

  •      Push notifications for new content
  •      Short, concise format
  •      Light-weight reference information (wiki)
  •      Mobile transactions/donations            
  •      Geographic information to tie in content


Desktop Website

Illinois Jane for DesktopNow with all these various channels available, the website becomes an interactive hub for all the various ways of connecting to the content.  Video of the upcoming film adaptation, products, games as well as access to the various device-specific content.  If driven through a CMS like Drupal, the content would be universal and device detection would allow an ipad user the rich-reading experience compared to the mobile user. Same message, just more or less of it depending on the device. In this case the website gives:

  •     Full e-commerce
  •     Google-indexed search results
  •     Hub for all other media (Facebook, Twitter, Kindle/Nook)     
  •     HD-video and large-file media
  •     CMS driven control and device detection

What does this mean?

You can take two conclusions away from this type of thinking. One, that the content, whatever it may be, is THE most important thing.  A good experience starts with a good message. And two, considering how content will be consumed can greatly add to the experience.  By tailoring information to fit how people want to access it, you can provide richer experiences by leveraging the benefits that each medium provides. True, it does take more effort to plan, design and produce, but the end result is a variety of satisfying, engaging experiences for the user.