The act of storytelling in advertising has historically been a one-way street where brands push out messaging knowing that the impact may be difficult to both measure and qualify in the way of consumer insights. But now the advertising industry is at an exciting inflection point because data-driven marketing now enables brands to truly adopt the role of interactive storyteller instead of just a unidirectional narrator.
With the ability to collect and apply first-party consumer data at an unprecedented rate, the brand-consumer feedback loop is more dynamic and nuanced than it’s ever been. Marketers now have the opportunity to learn in real time from consumer reaction and then adjust the story almost instantaneously to strengthen the bond with the consumer. This newfound ability to create conversations instead of monologues has only been possible because of the ecosystem’s advances in dynamic creative software.
The age of “data-driven creative” has been marked by the ability to truly scale multitudes of “individual” conversations. This is possible because we can now personalize the creative execution by applying the specific behavioral and demographic parameters of a particular individual and then altering elements of any given ad (text or images) to optimize its relevance and thus impact. Instead of relying on the historical blunt force instrument of one-size-fits-all ads on broadcast and cable television, brands can now apply more surgical techniques that will not only resonate louder and clearer but will also return new insights that can be applied to strengthen the next message.
Online digital advertising, practically speaking, is a sensor platform. Beyond delivering messages, it’s essentially an information-gathering mechanism that doesn’t exist in other mediums. This mechanism affords brands the ability to segment different types of people in a more sculpted manner. Using third-party and first-party data is a good first step toward enhancing personalization and relevance and has never been as sophisticated or accurate as it is now.
As a result, we can measure engagement and conversion at unprecedented levels; we quickly learn which groups of engagers did not all convert and often the reason for it. This informs how we address them the next time we deliver an ad with the goal of converting them. In essence, marketers can now intimately track customer journeys from awareness to interest to consideration to intent to evaluation to purchase. It’s important to keep in mind that you can’t fully control for the things you get from third- or first-party data you’ve collected. This speaks to how vital it is that the creative itself is the thing that you can control and test against. It’s the most important knob you can turn.