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Data & Storytelling: A couple that cannot be divorced for a happy marketing life

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Paawan Sunam
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Data & Storytelling: A couple that cannot be divorced for a happy marketing life


There is no better half in this  marriage, and data & storytelling need to have a connection instead of a contradiction. Here industry experts devise the rules of engagement to ace an efficient campaign.

Data has always been the backbone of marketing campaigns. From knowing their potential consumers to conceptualizing and distributing the campaign, data is an integral part of end-to-end marketing solutions.

Expert Opinion

Recently, data-driven storytelling has been on an upsurge, especially as we walk into the advanced marketing spectrum wherein technology and data are closely knitted. Validation of these campaigns on critical platforms such as Ogilvy Mumbai and Cadbury Celebrations’ ‘Shahrukh Khan- My AD’ winning a Titanium at Cannes Lions 2022, and the response it received from the audience, also points to its universal acceptance.

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Vasuta Agarwal, SVP & GM – Consumer Platform Advertising, InMobi, cites data and insights as one of the biggest benefits that permeation of technology that helps us understand what their consumers really want, and brands and agencies need to stop looking at data as mere statistics but more as a voice of their consumers.

"For delivering a personalized experience at every touchpoint with the consumers, it is important that the marketers infuse the power of data with the narrative building to tell a compelling story in any campaign."

Vidyut Kaul, Head, Personal Health, Philips Indian Subcontinent believes our competitive nature of the digital world utilizes data to accurately pinpoint audiences with the right messages, it is important to capture trends and identify valuable insights into the target market. He adds, " The magic happens when the robustness of data insights is married with the richness of consumer interactions. That provides lucidity for storytelling and creativity".

Anika Wadhera, Head of Marketing, Sirona Hygiene reckons to make the campaign stronger, it is important to dive into a pool of relevant data and statistics. While visual stories work well on social media, data-driven campaigns enable brands to reach the right audience and with the right communication. "The art of creative storytelling to drive consumers to action".

Chandramohan Mehra, Chief Marketing Officer, Bajaj Allianz Life, shares, "Joint immersion, exchange, and collaboration through the entire journey of insight and creative development can help brands and agencies craft compelling stories".

Moneka Khurana, Country Head & Board Member India, MMA Global - India states, globally millions of dollars are spent on data research and best practices to build first-party data, but data by itself in isolation cannot deliver on objectives. "There has to be a human connect. Because, at the end of the day, the way of communicating with consumers is through emotions".

The Application Of Data X Storytelling

While we see several accolades being awarded to campaigns that beautifully blend data and storytelling, we have also seen several challenges around this practice. Privacy concerns and breaches such as the Cambridge Analytica Scandal, FTC charging Twitter for deceptively using data garnered from 140 Mn users' 2FA to sell targeted ads to advertisers, and many more have pushed brands and agencies towards ethical sourcing, storage, and utilization of data. This is also nudged by the cookie-less future of advertising.

As Prashant Singh, Country Manager – India, RTB House states, "Data is an opportunity as well as a challenge".

Delving into this thought further, Kunal Dubey, Chief Marketing Officer, Cleartrip shared that data is the core of building any campaign, but "the challenge is to convert that into a consumer-friendly insight and storytelling that is highly relatable".

Then comes the part where both of these elements need to be married with a sustained balance. We all know what happens when technology overpowers the story and vice-versa. The viewers would connect with the narrative, but the narrative needs to have relevant points of connection which would be enabled by the data.

Prashant shares the practice of cutting down data that you don’t need. “We recommend that there is already a massive amount of data generated if you’re in a mass consumer business. Start cutting down the data that you don’t really need, evaluate MarTech options, start looking at who your consumer is”.

Anika reckons the importance of the humans behind infusing the data, "Our team of growth managers, category experts, and marketing professionals work together to create the right communication and platform strategy that is used to launch the campaign with the impact that we aim for."

Vasuta states to leverage data for creating engaging campaigns, brands and agencies must begin by focusing on the right and contextual data that can be "the soul of the story" that does not lose sight of the campaign objectives. "Once the right data has been handpicked, the other two pillars of creative storytelling - narrative and visuals, need to be built around it.

Kunal shared an example of Cleartrip's campaign that was simply built on the data insight that while 5.1% of Indians actually have a passport, only a fraction of those actually travels abroad. To boost international travel sales, the brand collaborated with Biswa Kalyan Rath and created a story of the passport in first-person, sharing broken dreams of wanderlust, and being used as ID proof instead of traveling the globe.

Vidyut mentions that while data lends valuable insights, there is no substitute for meeting, engaging, and co-creating with consumers, stressing the fact that a substantial chunk of efficient storytelling is amplified by real interactions with consumers.

Storytelling data creative storytelling