Why digital storytelling is the next big thing in display advertising
3 min read

Why digital storytelling is the next big thing in display advertising

There is a crisis across digital marketing and creativity has taken a back seat. For some marketers, a reliance on live data has seemingly become more important than the creative concept behind display campaigns.

In this blog, we explain what digital storytelling is, why it should be part of your digital display strategy, and how it offers a potential solution to a crisis in creativity.

The limitations of being just data driven

Within display advertising, a focus on just the data is having unforeseen consequences. One of which is the downgrading of genuine creativity!

Indeed, according to a recent Sizmek report, more than 67% of senior marketers said that growth in digital advertising has come at the expense of the quality of ad creative!

Personalisation and the creativity crisis

Greater personalisation should mean better designs not boring data-focused, automated ads!

One solution is combining data, design, and scheduled messaging through dynamic creative optimisation: known as digital storytelling.

Digital storytelling is an advertising tactic ready to grow in popularity. If done right it could become the go-to strategy for display advertisers looking to innovative through data.

But how does it work?

Digital storytelling explained

digital storytelling explained body

Digital storytelling is data, ad creative, and technology working together to engage and convert. It is the action of putting the right sequence of personalised creative messaging in front of a specific, targeted user.

Indeed, it offers marketers the opportunity to apply user data, in a way that is creative and engaging at each stage of the sales funnel. It can also range in sophistication, from basic dynamic creative optimisation (DCO) campaigns, to more creatively driven DCO that uses a creative management platform (CMP.

Additionally, digital storytelling is a dynamic creative strategy that uses the display ad tech infrastructure many brands already have. For example, a data management platform (DMP), demand side platform (DSP), and of course, creative management platform (CMP).

Sequencing and how digital storytelling works

First of all, to understand digital storytelling you must first understand sequencing. Ad sequencing is a display advertising tactic that has been around for many years and is not new.

Sequencing is using specific banner designs to retarget known individuals. And as Thomas Jamet, Chief Executive of IPG Mediabrands France, notes, “there is nothing really sexy about the smart sequencing of messages on a campaign – but it works”.

Generic retargeting banner

Indeed, it is a relatively low-funnel form of targeting and easy to apply. For example, serving an ad which shows a specific offer, can be sequenced, scheduled and targeted for different parts of the user’s journey – by using retargeting pixels, or a DMP.

What makes digital storytelling special?

Digital storytelling is essentially ad sequencing and retargeting taken to the next level through the use of dynamic creative optimisation.

In a recent eMarketer report, digital storytelling is described as “sequencing that uses dynamic creative to turn display into a full-funnel experience, drawing consumers down from awareness through consideration to purchase”.

Digital storytelling banners

Think campaign scheduling, retargeting, real-time data and personalised creative, all timed to hit a user at the right moment.  From awareness, to consideration, to conversion via tailored ad variants that engage audiences.  

Digital storytelling and dynamic creative optimisation (DCO)

Many brands are now making their first person data actionable. This has meant they can implement more data-driven marketing tactics, such as DCO, to produce more personalised display advertising.

Tellingly, according to a CMO Council and Deloitte report from 2018, 44% of senior marketing leaders worldwide believe that digital storytelling – combined with DCO – will shape their company’s growth.

Sequences of ad creative will become more personal

The bonus of having more user data, such as how long they have chosen to spend with previous advertising or products, is that it provides opportunity to customise subsequent sessions for digital storytelling.

In particular, it means that more data driven, funnel focused and segmented ad variants, can be used for each and every user via DCO. The result is that sequencing messages with personalised creative for digital storytelling becomes more impactful for both brands and audiences alike.

 Digital storytelling requires the right tech

Many teams struggle to manage the ad production tasks required for even basic DCO powered digital storytelling. In particular, reducing the need to code individual ad variants is very important.

It’s also worth noting that DCO ad production is impossible using traditional display ad production methods!

Avoid the use of templated design

Templates are a bad choice for those looking to combine data and design within digital storytelling. The reason is simple: ambitiously creative templated designs will require additional input from a developer, or outside agency.

Will digital storytelling and DCO solve your creativity crisis?

Bannerflow’s recent in-house report found that marketers are desperate to find ways of being more creative in their use of data.

In the report one senior marketer commented that “marketers tend to become short-term when facing pressure. They point to numbers the CFO/CEO can understand. Results from creativity are harder to measure”.

It may require time to set-up but DCO powered digital storytelling campaigns could be what marketing teams need right now.

Adding creativity to your display campaigns

Yet, digital storytelling, sequencing, and dynamic creative optimisation should not be treated as separate technologies – they are strategies that digital marketers must combine in order to be successful and creative.

The preferred option: a CMP and DCO provider

Ultimately, the best option for marketers using digital storytelling is to combine a creative management platform with a DCO provider (for example, Adform or Google Studio).

A DCO provider on its own offers many unique templated options for digital storytelling. Yet, to combat a crisis in creativity injecting a CMP into a production workflow gives marketers the design options required for effective digital storytelling. Plus, it offers the ability to build sophisticated campaigns without the need to code.

Dynamic creative experts

If you’re interested in finding out how a CMP like Bannerflow’s can enable digital storytelling via DCO then get in touch or request a demo. Injecting creativity into data-driven campaigns is one of our specialities.

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