Storytelling: AOL's Shingy on the most overused word in advertising

Rachael Micallef
By Rachael Micallef | 28 August 2015
AOL digital prophet David Shing.

In a digitally driven world where competition is growing and audiences are fragmenting, AOL's digital prophet David Shing still believes marketing is about storytelling.

“This is the most overused term in our industry, yes, but it's definitely about storytelling,” Shing said.

“But remember that the power of the story is less about the telling and more about the story. It's about storytelling in that context.”

Shing, speaking at ADMA's Creative Fuel conference this month said the advent of more connectivity, more screens and more customers, means that technology fuses people. Marketers and advertisers can tap into this, but brands just need to get the conversation right.

“If we're going to be reactive, relevant and remarkable, we have to be real, and being real is interesting because if you think about it, it all comes down to human connection. And that's emotion, meaning, your brand needs to be an experience,” Shing said.

“If you can hold someone's attention as a brand for 15 minutes, God bless you and get on with it. You're not limited to the world of 30-second and 60-second ads any more, and that's a great environment for us to think about moving forward.”

Shing pointed to Geico's highly awarded pre-roll ads as an example of a brand using its environment to tell a story. While he said not all brands have the scope that Geico has to run work and amply it when it starts to show results, he said that there are simple things all brands can do to market creatively.

“I'm an artist and there are three colours that make up every painting. You can create every painting in the universe with these three, colours: red, blue and yellow,” he said.

“When it comes to digital, we just keep these things simple: technology, content and distribution. It's incredible to think about those three colours as you dream digitally.”

Other elements Shing said marketers should focus on are talking about invention rather than innovation, tapping into the power of influencers and giving your brands to others by tapping into the maker market.

He said the other important thing is bring physical products into alignment with digital products.

“I see a lot of products that celebrate the brand digitally,” Shing said. “Then I got into the store and the packaging hasn't been updated since 1982. These two things need to come together because we don't separate them any more. Its not about digital marketing, its about just marketing in the digital world.”

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