Everybody loves a good tale, but have you ever wondered why that is?

Well, it turns out that there’s a bit of science behind the ‘magic’ of the story, which affects how our brains engage with the content.

This neuromarketing study sought to isolate which areas of the brain responded to adverts featuring a form of narrative, by testing a series of video ads on a young audience. Their findings were fascinating; the content that featured elements of storytelling ‘significantly affected brain areas associated with preference decisions’.

Not only that. The narrative ads were also extremely effective for stimulating alpha brainwaves, which are associated with an alert, but relaxed, state of consciousness. Dropping the neuroscience spiel, this meant that narrative content enabled viewers to ‘experience a physical and mental relaxation when watching the ad’. 

“The art of storytelling is one of the fundamental building blocks of human culture - as long as we’ve had culture we’ve had stories. It’s how our ancestors learned to share and retain knowledge. The concept of sequence, context or narrative, is essential to this. Knowing this, it’s not surprising perhaps that this directly impacts how we engage with, and respond to advertising. But it’s often overlooked in favour of information presented without narrative or context.”

- Charlie Penrose, Creative Director

Drawing on this expertise, we’ve introduced elements of storytelling in our campaigns through a series of sequential videos on YouTube.

Case study: YouTube sequential story campaign

We ran a YouTube campaign focusing on two people and their experiences of joining a university through Clearing.

The campaign ran as a series of sequential stories, so users were not bombarded with the same advert over and over again. Instead, they became familiar with the people in the video, and familiar with the brand, but with a fresh story each time. 

The results

The first video saw a full video completion rate of 36%; already a very good start. The second video (only for users who have seen the first part) saw a full video completion rate of 47.95%. Finally, part three (for those who have already seen parts one and two) recorded a full video completion rate of 48%. Although the final video did not show as big an increase, the numbers for part two and three show a far more engaged audience after initially viewing part one. 

What should we learn from this?

When the same adverts are overserved, it can become annoying, and can create negative perceptions about the brand. This kind of sequential advertising ensures that users are seeing new content, but as part of an overarching story that they can engage with and respond to. 

Do you want to know more about using storytelling to make your campaigns more effective? Get in touch with our experts today. 

Article by

Eleana Davidson Native Author

Eleana Davidson

Marketing Executive