Who’s the audience and what’s the right platform?

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For just a moment, try to suspend your media-platform biases and pay close attention to what platform(s) immediately come to mind when I say: film, drama series, documentary… Okay, we’ll pause there. I want to bring to your attention towards how we’ll often have a personal bias toward a particular media platform when it comes to content. This is a bias I too need to shake if we’re to develop stories that are more successful at reaching their intended audience.

Earlier today Screen Australia announced a co-development with Snapchat to fund two scripted 10-episode series. For some, this may sound quite creative, perhaps even innovative. Others may feel confused, baffled or just plain ignorant as to what Snapchat even is! Don’t worry. My point is this. With product (or solutions) development it is essential to suspend your delivery platform awareness biases and ensure you’ve first determined the audience you intend to reach and then ask, where they are and where they consume their media. This will radically inform story development ensuring it is both appropriate for the audience intended and in the right place and media format.

From a creative perspective, this opens up excellent creative opportunities for innovative story development. 2020 will usher in more sophisticated story engagement methodologies than the previous decade as platforms open more opportunities than ever. Screen composition, story structure and engagement platforms. Everything is being reimagined. For those of us working in Screen Media it is essential to remain open-minded about the creative development process required to fully engage audiences within these new platforms.

The latest analysis from Sprout Social reports 73% of 18-24 year olds use Snapchat, and 90% use YouTube, and gender is split fairly evenly for both. So, if it’s people within this age range you’re out to reach, then understanding how to develop platform appropriate stories to these is extremely relevant. If you’re developing content outside Australia, Canada, UK and USA, then don’t assume these platforms are as relevant either. For example, India ranks number one in the world for Facebook but is ranked eighth for Twitter!

Social is not just about conversation and advertising. Increasingly, Millenials and Gen Z are looking to be entertained and informed. Later in 2020, Quibi is expected to launch its new streaming service offering television and media content made for up to 10-minute bite-sized consumption. Perfect for the modern commuter. It’s reported, Co-founders Jeffrey Katzenberg and Meg Whitman were at Sundance Film Festival last week inspiring writers, producers and directors about this exciting new platform. At launch, Quibi has announced they’ll launch with 175 new shows. Full details are yet to be revealed, but from what has been reported so far we can expect production to be entirely rethought. Picture delivery will alternate depending on the orientation of the viewer’s screen. Unlike the existing services, Quibi is a mobile-only streaming platform.

Trending locally-produced Australian content is mostly comedy. These include Australia’s Best Street Racer, Aunty Donna, Hi Josh and Super Wog, however, funding offered from Screen Australia is for any scripted genre. Comedy, and especially low-cost productions like those listed above are typically popular. It’ll be interesting to see, whether streaming services like Quibi are successful at engaging audiences with short-form scripted drama. We’ll just have to watch this space.

In conclusion. Before jumping to television, cinema or any specific platform think about who you’re trying to reach and what story format may be most suitable and then re-think screen compositional structure and the most appropriate story-engagement methodology.

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