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The future of media: technology, storytelling and culture

Posted by Kefentse Masuku on August 10, 2017 at 8:00 PM
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Programmatic media is disrupting and restructuring traditional advertising. Here’s how you can amplify your brand’s message using these three variables.

Attending the International Festival of Creativity is definitely one of the items on my bucket list. Every year I follow the lead-up to the Cannes Lions, to see who’s been nominated, and who’s going to be on this year’s guest speaker’s list.

This year one of my key takeaways from the event was the importance of brands’ storytelling within their advertising.
Bruno Bertelli, Global Chief Creative Officer at Publicis Worldwide, spoke about the art of storytelling at this year’s festival. He stressed that storytelling is a key component to creating memorable, delightful advertising, saying “creativity is not a game of chance; everything we do must influence consumer behaviour and drive growth for our clients.”

In the digital age, however, it’s not good enough to just be telling great stories - it’s how you distribute these stories that gives your campaign wings. It’s about taking control of your space within a particular market, using a combination of three variables: technology, storytelling and culture, to capture the attention of your audience.

Using programmatic media to tap into culture and amplify your storytelling capabilities


Image source: State of Digital

“Programmatic media buying, marketing and advertising is the algorithmic purchase and sale of advertising space in real time,” writes State of Digital, a digital marketing advice portal. “By 2018, programmatic spend will have grown to over 80% of marketing spend”.

Programmatic advertising allows you to target a specific audience, using software that uses a bidding system which automates the buying, placement and optimisation of your media inventory. You’re able to target different segments of the population based on demographics like age, gender, and geographic regions. You’re also able to pick where your ad is published - choosing only the publishers which deliver the highest ROI. Unlike pay per click (PPC), programmatic only works with display advertising, and allows for real-time buying (RTB).


Image source: Forbes Magazine (2015)

The key benefit of programmatic media is that you’re able to tailor your message to exactly the right person, in the right space, at the right time, and within the right context. This is far more personalised than the traditional “spray and pray” method of advertising. Data tells us when a particular person is looking for a particular product. This is the beauty of digital marketing - we finally know exactly who our audience is, and have a better understanding of how to convert these users into leads, opportunities and customers.

Storytelling using programmatic media:

If you want to get the best results using programmatic media, your creative needs to be impactful - which means that you need to consider your users’ functionality when planning your storytelling. This means always designing for mobile first, as this is where most users will be viewing your ads. You have a far greater chance of getting your brand’s proposition across if your ad displays correctly.

Secondly, keep in mind that your consumers have a short attention span, so your message needs to be punchy and to the point. Place your call to action (CTA) at the beginning of your ad, as this will serve as the hook that grabs their attention.

Additional things to remember when designing for mobile:

  • Most people watch video with the sound turned off, so make sure you have subtitles to help users understand your message even without sound.

  • Understand what your audience wants. This is where culture comes in - market segmentation by demographics is not enough to build great stories. You’re not just talking to 18 to 25 year old males. Culture is an undefined, driving force within society. You need to be able to identify the unique characteristics, shared ideals and values, of the particular market you’re speaking to.

    If you’re trying to tap into, for example, the gaming community, you need to understand their lifestyle. What are their interests? What motivates them? What are their pain points? If you’re an internet service provider, maybe you want to talk about the frustration gamers feel when their internet connection lags, assuring them that you understand, and can address these needs.

    Your audience don’t owe you their attention, you need to earn this attention by telling stories that are both interesting and relevant to them.

  • Get creative. South Africa hasn’t really seen a lot of breathtaking advertising in recent years, it’s time for us to get back to the essence of advertising. Be creative, be bold and, most importantly, be original. Leverage technology to your advantage, tap into pop culture and let’s start telling some great stories again.

Programmatic media is particularly effective for industries (e.g. the automotive industry) who want to go beyond simply remarketing, and integrate programmatic throughout the entire path to purchase - from the awareness phase all the way through to upselling to existing customers. This is the future of advertising, programmatic is growing so rapidly that we’re reaching a point where soon we’ll even be able to buy traditional media (like television and radio) programmatically.

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