Brand Meets Storytelling: How Marketers Can Embrace Creative Content

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It’s no surprise that consumers are more likely to recall a brand if they’re being engaged by an advertisement or experiencing engaging content. Over 80 percent of Gen Z is more likely to purchase from a company that creates relevant content, according to research from WP Engine. With TikTok usage on the rise — more than half of the app’s users in the U.S. are between the ages of 16 and 24 — there are endless opportunities for brands to embrace creative content and play the role of entertainer today, whether it’s on social media or the open web. Just ask Chipotle.

The advertising industry today is moving to embrace its roots in entertainment as more brands create commercials and digital spots that feel like standalone content. But as ads and content blend together and marketers leverage native-like experiences online, understanding the nuances of creating impactful storytelling will be key for emerging brands to thrive and legacy brands to continue driving performance and brand awareness.

After all, consumers are not resistant to advertisements. They just need advertising to be authentic and tailored to their interests and experiences. For advertisers and digital publishers to stand out and ultimately increase conversions or time spent, they need to make their content seamlessly blend with the user experience and ensure the content is tailored to a specific audience. Stories for too broad or general of an audience will not have the same major impact as niche stories.

Marketers can find inspiration for creative content across the digital and OTT ecosystems to engage customers and truly drive their business forward. From branded content to product integrations to interactive content, the possibilities are endless to take advantage of this trend.

To succeed, branded content needs to have a purpose. A great example is the Procter & Gamble “Thank You, Mom” campaign; the content connects the brand’s mission of promoting the Olympics with an impactful storyline that shows how moms help their children succeed and ultimately resonated with wide audiences. Publishers like PopSugar are also seeing success using branded content to grow their business and retain engaged viewers; the publisher has said more than 80 percent of its advertisers from 2018 are actively spending with them this year.

Thanks to the Netflixes of the world, product integrations and placements are also breathing new life into creative marketing. The popular Netflix show “Stranger Things” has featured brands from Adidas to Burger King to KFC across seasons to add value to specific scenes. After all, characters on TV can’t always drink a generic soda. Coca-Cola specifically saw around $1.5 million in product placement ad value after an ‘80s version of the product was featured on the program. Marketers should be thinking about how their brand or product can lift up a storyline rather than sell.

Both digital publishers and advertisers can utilize interactive content as a means to drive longer sessions and increased click-through-rates. Think about what topics or stories your audience is interested in most and produce creative polls or quizzes to provide them with informative and entertaining value. Publishers can pull insights from their editorial coverage and performance to see which content is resonating most and plan their interactive content strategies accordingly. For example, a political publisher can tailor interactive content around specific candidates’ performance following a debate. Additionally, other interactive tools like GIFs and snackable video snippets can help to engage more socially-savvy viewers.

There is no shortage of entertainment in today’s advertising world. Marketers must approach advertising with the mindset of a content creator and move away from selling products to producing content with powerful storytelling. Start by identifying who your core customer is and what is relevant to them. Then start building stories around that. For example, a motorcycle brand might want to create content following the lifestyle of people riding around town.

Down with the traditional 30-second commercial. The future of advertising is creative content.

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