Once television was something you watched passively. Now television producers are trying to engage their viewers on every level of communications media: in print, online, on their mobile phones. The Project Factory collaborates with TV and film producers and brand agencies to find creative ways to engage consumers in the digital space. "It’s what we call transmedia, the idea of storytelling across multiple platforms," says The Project Factory director Jennifer Wilson. "We know that consumers spend as much time consuming content on devices other than their TV screen or magazines so it’s really important that if you’re going to talk to them you actually talk to them on all the places that they hang out." It’s a brand-new arena and that means marketing boils down to educating potential clients, she explains. "People don’t understand what digital media does, the need for it and the real benefit that a solid digital strategy can give you when you start talking about engaging consumers." Operating in Australia since 2005, The Project Factory is engaged in producing online documentaries, locative mobile, Facebook and 3-D games, and coming up with new ways for people to interact through digital media. It opened its first international office in the United Kingdom early this year, with former Lion Television Head of Interactive Kirsty Hunter in charge. Hunter believes the advent of connected television, explosion of the apps market and continued popularity of games means that the timing is perfect for a digital production specialist to launch in the UK market. "Digital media is a lot more widely adopted in the broadcast industry in the UK and Europe then it is here in Australia. In the UK, they get it," Wilson says. She says the UK is a market of specialists so The Project Factory’s key differentiator is their approach of targeting ‘one consumer’. "We ask, ‘How do you talk to that one consumer across all of the places they go?’"
Moving into export has not been without challenges. "The whole idea of exporting is different for companies who are basically exporting IP. When we say products, we mean platforms, digital services." Copyright and intellectual copyright laws have been the first hurdle, Wilson says. The Project Factory also entered into a joint venture with one of Europe’s largest broadcast companies ? last year, which Wilson hopes will be a foundation for building traction in that market. She says her team is constantly aware of the internationalisation of the digital media industry. "The web is borderless, so if you build something for the web it’s available to people all around the world." While some of the products The Project Factory has built are globally appropriate, many are localised, such as an app to find your friends at the Melbourne Cup. "But that same application could be tailored around any horse race or event or party. We have a product that lets people connect around an event, so we ask what other events around the world there are that this app could be important for." As television program formats are franchised around the world, The Project Factory is thinking about how its digital media platforms can be franchised along with the program and adapted for new markets. But you can’t run before you walk, and Wilson is wary of expanding too quickly. "You have to have an understanding of what makes a market tick in the digital space before you can just go in there and plug on a digital one-size-fits-all." For that reason, The Project Factory has no immediate plans to tackle the Asian market, as the American and European markets more closely mirror Australian television sensibilities. For the moment, Wilson is happy to concentrate on developing the UK business. "It will put us in the position of really developing digital media around the clock with teams in Sydney and London."