Step 5

Which storylines should I take forward?

A storyline is a way in which the big idea could be brought to life. Brand owners don’t always see the point in researching storylines, because how can feedback be useful if it comes before you have spent tens/hundreds of thousands on production values to make the ad impactful and compelling? Our point of view is that obtaining human insight early is always beneficial. The effectiveness of an ad, after all, comes from both its storyline and the execution that brings the storyline to life.

A storyline that doesn’t resonate with its audience will never lead to a great ad, no matter how well it’s executed.

From what we’ve heard, a lot of ads are produced without obtaining any feedback on the storyline, leading to disappointing pre-test or in-market results. It’s well worth identifying the most promising storylines before investing further time, money and emotional energy.

Another objection to getting consumer insights on storylines is that A/B testing can be used after the campaign has gone live to see which ads are most effective.

There are several flaws with this approach:

  • Money is spent on producing and running ineffective ads before the results are available and acted upon
  • A/B testing doesn’t tell you how your advertising stacks up with competitors’
  • You don’t learn how to make your advertising more effective in the future
  • It’s hard to be bold without human input to ensure you don’t go too far or make a misstep

Getting feedback on storylines before they are made into ads is more valuable. It tells you which storylines will be most effective, why, how they compare to benchmarks and how to optimize them before they are developed into finished ads. You can identify which storylines have most potential by gauging if they:

  • Resonate powerfully with the audience
  • Convey the desired associations
  • Have a prominent role for the brand

If a storyline does all three, you’re very likely to have an effective final ad. If not, your team can have an informed discussion about whether and how any issues could be resolved.

We believe that building time into the advertising development process to research storylines is well worth it. The more iterations you explore, the greater the likelihood of landing on the right one and knowing how to best bring the story to life in a final execution. This can be done via qualitative in-depth interviews or quantitative approaches. What’s important is that people see and respond to the storylines individually so that comprehension and responses aren’t contaminated by an artificial social dynamic.

Learn how Zappi can help you with ad development