Storytelling as the route to persuasion has long been one of the pillars of advertising creative. Easy enough, in what Mad Men has led us to believe to be the 'golden age' of advertising, when you have a 30 second spot TV commercial or a full glossy printed page to fill.
But the digital age has contributed to shorter attention spans, more consumer control, freedom and choice, as well as an industry reliant on data and technology. How has this impacted the art of storytelling? And does it matter?
Most of the advertising we see online today has immensely sophisticated technology behind its delivery - in ways that the ad executives of 1960s on Madison Avenue could only dream of. That box in the sidebar has been served to you because of information you've implied about yourself over a period of time - things have become far more sophisticated and the consumer is at the centre of it all.
The internet has more than proven its worth in enabling people to tell stories. The concept of social media has meant that digital as a medium has gone beyond what anyone could have predicted, opening up an enormous wealth of tools and helping consumers realise uses for the internet that would have once been inconceivable. Talking with, being influenced by and engaging with stories of complete strangers. We're sharing photos with them, uploading videos and typing text in less than 140 characters - keeping connected no matter where we are, or what else we're doing and on a range of different devices. This has all enabled digital advertising to evolve and it will increasingly do so, as we blend great creative with all of the digital tools at our disposal.
Digital advertising opens up brands to the most exciting opportunities since the first moving images contained a commercial message, and as the language of the web advances and broadband speeds increase these opportunities only get more exciting. Shortening attention spans and ever-expanding consumer choice are not reasons for not telling stories; they are reasons for why brands need to create true engagement by tapping into people's passions with creativity and relevance.
On the Yahoo! homepage an ad will be aimed at a specific audience, but it will open up to world of interactivity, video, games and editorial content that the audience want to see, read and share. By working with content driven digital media companies, brands can create immersive environments which are more perfect to tell stories through than anything they have been able to access before.
This is just the start; platforms such as mobile, tablets, apps, social media and the expansion of the internet onto TV represent the opportunity to tell stories in even more innovative and engaging ways, delivering persuasion and even advocacy; the Holy Grail for advertisers.
As partners of Internet Week Europe 2011 at Yahoo! are doing our bit to look towards the future of the Internet, and believe that brands who know how to take advantage of the evolving tools and platforms that digital media uniquely provides - the future for advertising is an exciting place to be. We're hosting a series of sessions looking at what we think are the most exciting areas for those working in digital.
Our inaugural Provoke Summit, taking place on Tuesday 8 November, will cover the topic of storytelling in the digital age with a keynote from Andrew Cracknell, author of The Real Mad Men.