Storytelling v Facts
Very little exists in the public domain regarding tangible comparisons of effectiveness metrics between story-based advertising campaigns and those which are fact-based. The general consensus in the marketing world is that storytelling is 22% more effective than an approach which simply provides a list of facts and figures. Though, it should be pointed out that this data, widely quoted by numerous marketing experts, is based on data from cognitive psychologist Jerome Bruner who died in 2016 and who was not researching this recall as it applies to advertising specifically. The research below represents the data which was uncovered which applies directly to the comparison of storytelling versus fact-based advertising and efforts have been made to not reiterate why storytelling is effective, however because of the lack of studies that have looked into these comparisons, the data included is limited. Many of the data points have been provided verbatim so as not to detract from the overall meaning and interpretation of the information.
Comparison of Storytelling and Fact-Based Advertising on Purchase Intent
An article titled, ‘Storytelling Advertising Investment Profits in Marketing: From the Perspective of Consumers’ Purchase Intention’ was published in the August 2020 issue of Mathematics. Highlights from that article are provided below.
- The article affirms that “storytelling advertisements help to integrate audiences into advertisements and arouse highly positive emotions among audiences. A brand is just a sign without any vitality if there is no story to tell consumers. The structure of the brand story can be constructed to shape the consumer’s brand image.”
- “In a mature market with oversupply and fierce competition, consumers will not notice the difference between toothpaste, toilet paper, detergent or soda of various brands, so that products with consumers’ perceived emotions like resonant stories are more effective than price reductions.”
- “Consumers judge the meaning of a product through the story behind the brand. Passing a brand message to consumers through stories can touch consumers’ hearts more.”
- Within this article are details of a study completed to assess the effectiveness of increasing purchase intention. The study was conducted among 187 first-year college freshmen, split into three groups.
- “In the first week, each group first filled out the scales of Brand Image, Brand Identity, and Purchase Intention. Then they obtained the pretested data of O11, O21, and O31 as the pre-test baseline. In the second week, an intervention experiment was performed, that is, X1, X2, and X3 groups were used to watch sports brand advertisement stories of different video duration.”
- X1: Watch the NIKE sports brand story advertisement “2016 The Switch: Soul Swap” with an advertisement duration of 5 min and 59s
- X2: Watch NIKE sports brands Story ad “2016 Unlimited You” with an advertisement duration of 2 min and 27s long
- X3: Watch the general sales advertisement “2017 Impossible Stairs” of NIKE sports brand with an advertisement duration of 1 min.
- Results of the study included:
- “Experiment Group 1: Compared with the pre-test and post-test, this advertising video duration with 5059” watched by students was the longest. For the four variables, functional, symbolic, empirical, and brand identity, the mean scores of post-tests are higher than the mean scores of pre-tests. The paired sample t-test results, all p-value are < 0.05 (between 0.000 and 0.010). There is a highly significant difference before and after the experiment.”
- “Experiment Group 2: Compare the mean scores difference between the pre-test and post-test, the students of this group watched the advertising video duration with 2027”. The mean score of each variable post-test was also higher than pre-test. The t-test result shows that the p-value was between 0.000 and 0.138. Only the three sub-variables, functional, symbolic, and empirical, of the brand image showed a highly significant difference pre- and post- test. Comparing the mean scores of this group pre- and post- test, there was no statistically significant difference in brand identity."
- “Control Group 3: The students of this group watched the common advertising video duration with 1 min. Although the mean score of each variable post-test was still higher than pre-test, the difference in mean scores becomes smaller. The results after using the t-test showed the empirical variable p-value was 0.000, which showed a significant difference between pre- and post- test. But in the other variables, the p-values were 0.279 to 0.347 and the differences were not significant.”
- Further, “for the construction of consumer awareness of the brand image, this study found that ads with a length of more than 5 min are better for than those with a length of more than 2 min and 1 min. The limitation of audiovisual duration with less than 6 min as be found, the stronger the advertising story with longer audiovisual duration, the stronger its impact on functionality and symbolism.”
- “Comprehensively, this study suggests that brand image and brand identity can be constructed by brand story advertisements and discover that the concentration of advertising stories for sports brands has a significant impact on the functionality and symbolism of the brand image. The stronger the advertising story with longer audiovisual duration, the stronger its impact on functionality and symbolism. However, the concentration of advertising stories has no effect on the brand image experience, brand identity and purchase intention. The empirical changes of the brand image are also related to changes in brand identity. The change of the symbolic image of the advertising story and the change of brand identity are also positively related to the change of their purchase intention.”
- Published highlights from an article titled, ‘Effect of underdog (vs topdog) brand storytelling on brand identification: exploring multiple mediation mechanisms’ (published in the Journal of Product & Brand Management) indicate findings that “show a full mediating effect of the underdog (vs topdog) theme on brand identification through reader immersion and empathic feelings.” The majority of this article is blocked via paywall, but has been included for reference.
- According to Dr. Pamela Rutledge, “the human brain is on a much slower evolutionary trajectory than technology. Our brains respond to content by looking for the story to make sense out of the experience. No matter what the technology, the meaning starts in the brain. The success of any story, transmedia or single platform, relies on the resonance, authenticity, and richness of the narrative created by the storyteller.”
- Data included the findings of a 2013 study called ‘The impact of storytelling on the consumer brand experience’ (published in the Journal of Brand Management) indicated the following with regard to willingness to pay for a product based upon an advertising with storytelling compared to one without:
- According to data from the Synapse Agency, “80% of consumers want brands to tell stories as part of their marketing.”
- In the book, ‘Made to Stick’, the authors state that “63% remember the stories. Only 5% remember any individual statistic.”
Potentially Helpful Paywalled Source
- The ‘Handbook of Research on Transmedia Storytelling, Audience Engagement, and Business Strategies’ was published in April 2020. It is described as “a collection of innovative research that explores transmedia storytelling and digital marketing strategies in relation to audience engagement. Highlighting a wide range of topics including promotion strategies, business models, and prosumers and influencers, this book is ideally designed for digital creators, advertisers, marketers, consumer analysts, media professionals, entrepreneurs, managers, executives, researchers, academicians, and students.” No publicly available highlights were found but the link to purchase has been provided for reference.