New Digital Storytellers: Insider Tips For Purpose-Driven Social Sharing From #AWX

XAD | 09 / 26 / 2013

Welcome back to Marketing Land’s coverage of Advertising Week 2013! Doug Ray, President, CARAT GLOBAL, kicked off the morning of Day 3 at the Times Square Hard Rock Café, setting the scene for the upcoming discussion of how brand storytelling has evolved over the years, and where we’re at presently.

On stage with him were Joshua Hirsch, CTO, PUBLICIS KAPLAN THALER, Michael Bayle, SVP Global Programmatic, xAD INC., Harry Kargman, CEO, KARGO, and J.B. Raftus, CMO, GSD&M. Read on for a record of their dialog, complete with insider takeaways and tips for effective brand storytelling in a digital age. (This is 90% word-for-word transcript, 10% paraphrased.)

New Digital Storytellers - Advertising Week 2013

Doug: Yesterday, there was quite a bit of discussion about the explosion of data and how we need to bring disparate data sets together –how first and third party data is bringing value to consumers and the engagement they’re doing with brands. That data combined with emerging platforms is changing the way we’re telling stories today. We’re moving from a one-directional story told in a 30 second television commercial to multi-dimensional two-way story telling via social media. What are you doing to take advantage of this new way of storytelling?

Josh: Well, you mentioned emerging technologies and platforms – the other part of that is emerging behavior. What this data and the technology allows everyone to do in terms of storytelling is see how people are taking the story and what consumers are doing with it. What’s working? What’s not? Then it’s about being willing to change the story – go in the direction people are moving in – let consumers be a part of creating that story. I think that’s the opportunity now, and to optimize what you’re doing… but it also requires some sort of reactivity, nimbleness… you have to be able to react to that kind of data.

Harry: Unlike a lot of mobile companies in this space, we focus a lot of the publisher first. What makes it so interesting for us as we try to tell these stories around brand advertising is we’re enabled by the publisher to integrate our technology with the fabric of their sites and apps. This allows us to work with brand advertisers and build brand channels directly in the pages of the site. In the digital world, you can take old content, republish it, and tell a story by aggregating and curating the content.

Doug: There’s this idea of value creation for the consumer – you’re actually giving them content that addresses certain needs or provides utility.

Mike: Having had spent some time as one of those publishers at Yahoo and ESPN, it’s been interesting to see the convergence between mobile and advertising. Location is critically different in the mobile environment compared to the desktop environment. If you’re on a desktop, marketers can assume you’re at home (or at work). You’re stationary. But in mobile, you’re out and about. Having brands able to touch consumers out and about is the new sex appeal. To be able to be within reach of consumers’ attention is exciting for us. Location is what we focus on – we think that’s the new big data.

J.B.: As a brand creative agency, we’re at the top of the storytelling funnel. One thing we’re doing is having a look at it in the broader context. Before the explosion, there was real purpose and then the platform. Start with a purpose of the brand and once you get that nailed and well articulated, everything falls from that. But now it’s not just purpose and platform. It’s also context and need state. That doesn’t just give you two more things to do, it gives you infinite more things to do. You have to tell the brand story in so many more ways than we ever had to before. It’s a blessing and a curse – you’re given this new gift of being able to reach people in new ways and need states, but you have to create the right content for those need states and contexts. We’re transforming to be able to tell stories in deeper ways.

Doug: I want to touch on context… that’s a new thing we need to take into account. But at the same time we have data that allows us to deliver messages through ad exchanges. You can argue we can follow the consumer and understand their intent with programmatic targeting and demographics, so… does context really matter?

Mike: Context matters. Think about targeting people in Central Park. At 8 AM, that person might be a Wall Street jogger. At noon, it might be a nanny.

Harry: One of the key metrics in a KY campaign we ran with Johnson & Johnson was the number of downloads of this KY app. What we found was that J&J brought out the best of the programmatic cores with their algorithm to finely-tune targeting and only drive the most relevant people to that app. They outperformed us in terms of total downloads. But an ever more important metric was how many people returned to the app once they downloaded it and used it regularly. There, we outperformed J&J 10X, because we had a tailored message seated on a page with contextually relevant information—and when people searched for that channel, they wound up actually reading the content because it applied to their interests. And in fact, these people were way more tightly targeted because of that contextual element. That context of where they found and downloaded the app produced users that were much more active in terms of opening the app and returning to use it, and that was a much more valuable user in the long term than someone who downloaded the app and never used it.

Doug: So, if we’re targeting a Wall Street Runner in the morning and a nanny in the afternoon, it’s important to create the right content and context that allow that messaging to work harder. We need to create much more content than we ever had to before. Historically, clients and CMOs look to a certain group of agencies to be able to create their content. Are we in a different era of content creation in terms of responsibility of partners? Who are CMOs looking to now? How have you seen this change the way you think about content creation in terms of external partners?

J.B.: The need for content is fast outpacing the ability of us to create it – to get it together. Context is the ultimate gift for storytelling. If you know how someone is consuming something and the context, you can write a more compelling story. But that ability for us to have the need state and the context of the consumer understood is happening so much faster than our ability to fill the pipelines. It’s a race to catch up.

Josh: It’s another issue that there’s been a lot of helping clients understand the kind of content they should be producing – what assets they have what can already be delivered, and how willing they are…  at one point we were working with Skittles, which had 3 million Facebook fans they weren’t doing much with. We activated what they already had in terms of commercial content and just started posting on Facebook every day, and they grew another 10 million fans in one year. Another client wanted to create a web destination to push out content, but the connection to the brand was a little thin. We had to help them understand the value of it. It required securing a lot of third party content generator.

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