By Joel R. Johnson

For more than 20 years, my closest collaborators in advertising have been Creative Directors. Win or lose, most often it’s me and my creative partners. So trust me when I say in their heart of hearts, they just want to tell a good story, because they know it’s most effective.

A recent long-term System1 study vetted by the IPA UK on the value of creativity showed highly creative TV ads with narrative-driven characters produce better ROI than purely promotional ones focused on price, and that this is true in EVERY vertical. So it follows that it’s in the best interest of the advertiser to pursue making TV and digital video ads with a clear narrative, world-building characters, alongside sustained spending so people start to learn the story (Progressive’s Flo for example).

As broadcasters, agencies, and content creators merge, we need to recognize the power and value of the stories we invent for ourselves and on behalf of brands. Now, after in-housing and refusing to share performance and attribution data, top advertisers are asking for better media pricing based on sales guarantees from the top to the bottom of the funnel. In short, they want guarantees that if they place an ad, it’ll convert.

To make this work, advertisers are going to finally have to give up the goods and become way more transparent about performance. They’re going to have to let agencies in on their attribution models. That’s tough to do in a world of walled gardens around data, but necessary. Creative Directors are going to have to get comfortable with diving into data and optimization, and making it part of the creative process. While we’re at it, advertisers and agencies should be working together to remove any constraints that prevent us from telling the best stories. Advertisers can invite agencies along with multi-year commitments, shared performance data, and performance-based fees.

The research has already been done, it’s time to refocus on the heart of advertising’s effectiveness to make the best storytelling possible and more valuable to brand, agency and consumer.

Joel R. Johnson is chief strategist at Admirable Devil, a Capitol Communicator sponsor.

Image from Quantic School of Business and Technology shoot by Admirable Devil

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