Cutting Through the Clutter Means Employing Data-Driven Storytelling

As data becomes hyper-localized and increasingly more intelligent, the personalized brand experiences marketers can craft become exponentially more about telling a story and less about selling a product or service. The result is more engaged audiences and - you guessed it - significantly improved ROI.   

Marketers need to move away from “the traditional waste model to a highly engaged and interactive environment,” said Joe Marchese, CEO of True[X] and President of Fox Network Group, during the Annual Digital Storytelling event hosted by the Sundance Film Festival.

This was before Niantic’s Pokémon GO revolution of 2016, but hindsight shows us that Marchese was definitely on to something: there is truly a gold mine in consumer-driven storytelling marketing. ‘Ads’ in the traditional sense are far behind us. In fact, research shows that 80% to 85% of “skippable” online video ads are, well, skipped. People simply want to connect in a way that feels natural, authentic and human - think less disruptive one-way stories and more interactive journeys that are shared between brand and consumer.

The case for storytelling marketing is pretty much a slam-dunk. But, where does data merge with creative? Because we all know that marketing without data is a bit like driving blind.

Marketing with Data-Driven Storytelling

If Pokémon GO proved anything this year, it is that augmented reality (or rather, an immersive customer experience - gleaned by gathering location data, purchase behaviors and related interests) has a very real place in the future of marketing due to it’s ability to engage users by literally forming a new reality between the content and the user.

And it’s not just the elevated story that gets a boost, but your bottom line. A pizza restaurant in New York reportedly saw a 75% increase in sales after investing just $10 for some Lure Modules - an item you can purchase to place at your PokéStop location.

Tim McDonough, SVP, Global Corporate and Product Marketing, Qualcomm, and a CMO Club Member, found similar success in launching a recent marketing effort that revolved around a narrative, where the product was merely a piece of the story. In a recent article, he shared how his team brought content production out of the box (and away from ad spends that yielded safe but hardly ground-breaking returns) to create a 30-minute thriller movie that didn't mention their products or brand a single time. Rather, it showed their features being used in practical applications. The result was anything but commercial and fabricated - generating the views and engagement to prove it.

It's easy to see that, in order to stand out, brands must certainly up the ante. It’s no longer about just Big Data - which can be challenging and difficult to manage for actionable insights - but key numbers that give you the ability to connect in the here and now, facilitating real-time interaction with consumers. It’s about connecting geo-located data with consumer patterns, and coupling that with the right content creators to produce immersive experiences that people cannot get enough of. We’re past the era of digital vs. real life, Digital Is Real Life.

"We're not lacking in [enough] data, what we don't have is [enough] narrative,” said Roy Sekoff, Founding Editor, The Huffington Post.

Imagine what you can do  when you are able to write that narrative while leveraging relational data.  


The current use of data is no longer satisfying for brands or consumers, moving us even further away from that old tendency to promote transactional, disruptive messages with little engagement or understanding of how people interact with media today.

For brand engagement that goes beyond immediate and short-term sales, relational data can be leveraged to generate stories and interactive, immersive experiences that become mutually rewarding experiences - leading to higher ROI and greater customer advocacy.