Sequential targeting – don't forget the art of storytelling, says Westpac marketer

James McGrath
By James McGrath | 15 May 2015

Too many people are thinking about data, but too few are thinking about how data can actually enhance storytelling.

That's the call from Oliver Lynch, who is Westpac New Zealand's head of brand and marketing.

"The concept of storytelling is an age-old tradition, but is the great art of storytelling under attack?" he asked an audience at the ADMA TechMix marketing conference in Sydney today.

"I think there's been a misunderstanding of why data, digital and social media are having such a huge impact on our lives. The reason that there's been a drastic change is not because of the technology itself, but the way humans have used that. The human insight is at the heart of how those technologies are being used.

"Sometimes we can let the technology distract us from that. We need to remind ourselves that there's a human at the centre of that story."

He highlighted a campaign Westpac is running in New Zealand around the Westpac Rescue Chopper appeal.

Facebook users in New Zealand are served with a video showing a woman trapped in a car, a piece of emotive content which can be quite distressing, depending on who's watching it, with an urge to "change her story" by donating to the Westpac Chopper Appeal.

From there, people who clicked on that video are served the next video in a series of four, no matter where they are on the internet.

The people who watched that video are served the third, with the final video in the series of four hosted on the donation page for the Westpac Chopper Appeal. 

The fourth video, the resolution to the narrative arc presented in the first three videos, is a reward for donating. 

"Storytelling is the original form of mass communication ... we as an industry have been doing it since the 60s. It pre-dates the written word, it pre-dates religions, and it's the most deeply-ingrained method of passing along information we have," Lynch said.

He said that retargeting software essentially unlocked a powerful method of storytelling, sequential targeting.

"With that, we can take customers on the journey ... almost down the purchasing funnel," Lynch said.

"It's the opportunity to connect lay in that patient's story, but it was data and the technology that made it possible for us to tell the story in a way that we've never been able to tell it before."

The campaign is still ongoing, but so far Westpac had seen a 300% uplift in donations year on year as a result of the four videos, with an uplift of 250% for people visiting the donation page year on year.

"I think it's an incredibly exciting time to be a communicator. There may have been bigger lunches and expense accounts decades ago ... but when I think of all the tools and technologies we have today, I feel like we're in an incredibly lucky time."

Back in February AdNews covered a story on how Microsoft was plotting the Australian roll out its Creative Sequencing ad tool, which was launched in the US last year.

It's designed to help advertisers run ads across devices in sequence and avoid serving people the same ads they've already seen on mobile, on desktop or tablet or serving ads at an irrelevant moment. Advertisers can use Microsoft's cross device tracking data to serve ads in a narrative, or logical order.

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