Despite its relative youth compared to traditional advertising, digital advertising has seen both huge changes and extraordinary growth. Early digital ads used flashy, "shouting" techniques like pop-ups and pop-under ads to demand attention from their intended customers. As the digital landscape has matured and with connectivity improvements, these have been replaced by advertisements that are more sophisticated in both content and design. In order to capture the consumer's attention and trust, modern ads must engage with their audience, rather than talk at them. Advertisements that tell a story allow brands to build that engagement, even when the average attention span is a brief 8.25 seconds and getting shorter.
Why a Story is Better Than an Ad
The overwhelming amount of advertisements Internet users see on a daily basis has conditioned them to ignore ads that attempt to hard-sell a product or service. By contrast, ads and content that employ storytelling techniques engage viewers while focusing on the values and benefits brought by the product, rather than the product itself. While these techniques can be used in static ads, they are most commonly employed in videos, making videos the storytelling choice for the future of marketing. These types of ads convert leads into customers through their use of emotional appeal, relatability and shareability.
Inherent in ads that tell a story, emotional appeal not only attracts potential customers but stays with viewers long after their initial experience of the ad. By telling a story that shows your product or service in use, rather than simply focusing on the product itself, these ads connect with customers on a deeper level than statistics and a benefits list ever will. In a study done on marketing pitches at Stanford, only 5% remembered statistics used, while 63% recalled stories used in a pitch. This demonstrates the clear advantage of emotional appeal in advertising.
Advertisements that tell a well-crafted story are also more relatable than their traditional hard sell counterparts. By telling your potential customers about or showing them customers like them experiencing the advantages of your offerings,these stories make it even easier for your potential customers to view themselves using your product or service - and how their work or their lives will benefit. In this way, your storytelling advertisement is much more effective in showing the true value of what you have to offer them. One example of a storytelling ad campaign that successfully used relatability is Allstate's "Mayhem" commercials. The campaign turned life's unexpected emergencies into a physical character, reminding viewers that similar accidents could happen to them at any time. After two-quarters, the "Mayhem" commercials brought Allstate a 4.3% sales increase where sales had previously been falling. Compared to a list of benefits, relatable ads like these give your leads a much clearer picture of the advantages your business brings.
It's hard to imagine seeing a traditional hard-sell ad that is interesting and entertaining enough to share with all of your connections on social media. But with a creative video or even text content that tells a story, it's completely different. Just like the random cat and stunt videos that unintentionally take the Internet by storm, a planned ad campaign that tells a story can take on that same quality. Brand characters, like Charmin's bears, who boosted the brand's Facebook engagement by 585%, can be one of the most effective tools for a share-worthy ad. The key is to build the emotional appeal and relatability into your ad while ensuring that it will both educate and entertain your target audience.
Creativity and Effective Ads
While analytics platforms make it easier to focus using one-word choice over another and programmatic ads based on previous clicks, creativity is the element makes for the most effective ads. Even with storytelling advertisements, it's important to use those analytics tools to further optimize these videos and other content to reach and engage the right audience.