Incredible Journey Back to Authentic Storytelling: Part Five

By Thought Leaders Archives
Cover image for  article: Incredible Journey Back to Authentic Storytelling:  Part Five

Editor's note:  This is the final installment in a multi-part series identifying five key trends that advertising creatives, agency executives and brand marketers need to know, as presented in a new report from Catch&Release titled The Incredible Journey Back to Storytelling.  The report is available in its entirety via .pdf.

Today it isn’t enough to offer great user experiences, personalized products and high-quality engagement.  Brands need to make it easy for customers to navigate from one communication channel to another and access services across platforms (both digitally and in-store, for example).  They also have to synchronize their use of tech solutions, communication platforms and advertising strategies to make the most of their resources and capitalize on the dense web of interconnections that the digital transformation has created.  In other words, they should cultivate a healthy digital ecosystem -- the online network of communication channels and services that gives consumers a cohesive experience at every stage of the customer journey.

Stephanie Ambroise, the senior business affairs manager at TBWA, thinks the “overall integration of technology” will be one of the pivotal trends in 2019.  “I’m seeing the potential for AI and the integration of major brands with technology that takes you on a journey,” she says.

We’re living in the age of the connected consumer, where they aren’t just looking at one or two screens.  It’s not uncommon for a consumer to be bouncing between three or even four devices at any time, which means getting -- and keeping -- attention is harder than ever.  Beyond the “fourth screen” phenomenon is that the buyer journey doesn’t just take place on one platform anymore, either.  While e-commerce retail sales have consistently grown to account for a larger proportion of the market over the past decade, brick and mortar stores won’t be going anywhere soon.  And as consumers increasingly demand authenticity and engagement across a wider array of channels, why should brands assume that this demand is limited to digital interactions?

According to Ambroise, they shouldn’t.  “Some clients are trying to make their presence known in real time and in real life," she notes.  "We had a client who did a High Line Honey event where people could see the bees and taste the honey.  It was fun to see everyone so excited about it.  Now more than ever, consumers want this type physical interaction so they can have a better understanding of a company.  They want the human relationship with the brand.”

While this may sound out of place in a report that covers so many aspects of digital integration, it’s actually one of the most important messages advertisers should assimilate.  We often hear about business-to-business or business-to-customer advertising, but brands should always be focused on human-to-human advertising.  Incidentally, this is also one of the key reasons authentic content, generated by “real” people, is driving many of the changes taking place in the advertising industry.

When consumers ask for personalized products and experiences, what are they really saying?  They want to be treated like individuals with their own unique personalities, preferences and concerns.  When they ask for more engagement, they’re telling brands that they don’t want robotic, transactional relationships -- they want to feel like stakeholders and valued partners.  When they ask for authenticity, they’re asking brands to have enough respect for them to be honest, genuine and trustworthy.  That's the foundation of any healthy long-term relationship.

Key takeaway: As we approach 2019, we’ll continue to see a profusion of technology solutions that will help brands amplify their voices, learn about consumer behavior, personalize products and services for their customers and identify sources of licesenable UGC.  But as brands use these new technologies, it’s essential to remember the ultimate goals: authentic storytelling and a more human-to-human approach to advertising.

Conclusion

While brands and advertisers are still figuring out how to navigate an unprecedented digital transformation, many of the new technologies they’re using are built around people.  From social media to AI applications that help brands interact with customers, learn more about them and discover the amazing content produced every minute by independent creators, the digital transformation has launched a revolution in human-to-human advertising.

In other words, digital integration has come full circle: It has broken down barriers by democratizing content while simultaneously creating an environment where real-life is valued over highly manufactured scenarios.  This is a journey back to authentic storytelling whereby technology enables advertisers and brands to connect with consumers in ways that feel real, engaging and human.

While these trends may be a big part of the story in 2019, they will certainly be in action for many years to come.

Note:  The full report, titled Catch&Release 2019 Trends in Advertising: The Incredible Journey Back to Authentic Storytelling, is available via a downloadable .pdf below.

Photo credit:  Catch&Release

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