The history of storytelling is as much about technology as it is about narrative. As humans have transitioned from the earliest cave scratches to the newest highly interactive digital experiences, the way stories are told have had a powerful influence on the stories themselves. As the number of media channels continue to blossom, marketers must not only become more familiar with existing tools, but stay relevant by seeking out competitive new platforms.

 

The IPG Media Lab’s most recent Media Trial focused on one important new element of storytelling: data. Data sets are increasingly being structured and exposed via APIs so that third parties can grab and understand the data in real time. Weather, headlines, traffic, sports scores, tweets, videos, social data—the available data sets are only limited by your imagination. Marketers who can curate these streams in real time may be able to create more engaging and more impactful stories, with the results to match.

 

Brands need to decide what type of data streams are “on brand” and identify their own data assets that can be piped into an ad. Designing an ad that relies heavily on dynamic data is a creative challenge. The industry needs a new breed of creative talent that can concept with dynamic elements in mind. New solution providers like SpongecellSocialMedia.com, and Flite facilitate the creation of the units and ensure their stability across millions of impressions served. The Lab partnered with these providers to test the efficacy of these new tools and test the following hypothesis:

 

API-enabled ads will have higher engagement rates and brand lift than disconnected display ads.

 

The Lab used live head-to-head tests to examine the overall style of advertising.  We did not pit the individual test ad products against each other. Rather, we looked at the aggregate performance of the three test units vs. an established campaign control ad. Test ads were created by the participating companies from existing brand assets in a relatively short period of time. The creative for the trial rotated equally into an existing buy that reached the respective target audience. Lift, recall and overall engagement were tracked via survey.

 

The results showed that the more engaging API-enabled ads tended to outperform the disconnected control ads. For example, engagement rates improved anywhere from 2.4% to 11.9%. Interactions within the test ads were anywhere from twice to eight times as frequent in comparison to the control. There are fluctuations across the test, but several test ads saw post-exposure awareness rise 2.1%, 2.5% or 8.5% percent, while in two cases, purchase intent rose 21% versus the control (awareness linked to the test ads did decrease in one test case in which the control ad was given greater interactivity and functionality than was provided in the test ads).

 

The results indicate opportunities for marketers to use these new data-driven techniques more actively in the future. By strategically identifying the most effective content streams and APIs, brands have access to a powerful set of storytelling tools that dramatically increase their creative range.