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The Art of Storytelling Meets the Science of Data Analysis

Data adds to the power of creative

All brands have a story to tell consumers, but telling it in a way consumers want to hear can be challenging. Marketers are taking advantage of their ability to use content and ad creative sequentially to present longer, more compelling messages to consumers.

“The lines between content and advertising are blurrier than ever, thanks to the continued growth of native as well as the importance of paid channels for distributing marketing content,” said eMarketer analyst Nicole Perrin, and author of the new report “Storytelling in Sequence: How Brands Are Creating More Engaging Messaging.” (Subscribers to eMarketer PRO can access the report here. Nonsubscribers can purchase the report here.)

Marketers are relying on a mix of owned, earned and paid media to disseminate content that tells their brand story.

The purpose not only of content marketing but of marketing in general is to engage consumers and help encourage at least some part of their buyer journey. By sequencing exposure to that content, or creative, marketers hope to foster ever-building engagement with a brand.

Primary Source Used by US* Marketing Leaders to Develop Their Content Strategy/Calendar, May 2017 (% of respondents)

The blurred lines between ads and content, especially due to the importance of paid placements for disseminating marketing content, mean they are frequently both part of the sequencing picture.

In an interview for the report, Tapad senior vice president of product management Preethy Vaidyanathan sketched out one such sequence, using a movie release campaign as an example. The first exposure is to a video ad featuring the movie’s trailer. If the user watches the trailer, he will later be targeted with a direct-response ad calling him to purchase a ticket to the movie online. But if another user doesn’t watch the video at the first exposure, she’ll be targeted with the video again—on a different device, in hopes that reaching her in a different way will make a view more likely. If she still shows no interest in the video, she won’t be touched with that campaign again, whereas if she does watch, she’ll later be invited to purchase a ticket.

This type of messaging allows marketers to take advantage of a range of formats and platforms to tell their story to consumers over time in a relevant—and respectful—way. Personalization and automation are at the heart of these efforts, said Perrin.

In the latest episode of “Behind the Numbers,” Nicole Perrin talks about the ways that marketers are becoming better storytellers by sequencing their messages using art and science.

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