6 creative directors share how deeper audience insights spark better storytelling

Danielle Landress March 2019 Video

What do Ozzy Osbourne and Prince Charles have in common? A lot, if you’re looking at demographics alone. They are both male and from England, and were both born in the same year. Yet, as has been pointed out many times before, that’s not the full picture.

We recently posed a challenge to world-class creative agencies: explore how deeper audience insights — beyond demographic data — could spark better, more relevant storytelling. The six agencies partnered with the Ad Council to bring attention to three causes: empowering girls in STEM, preparing for disasters, and ending hunger. They used YouTube and Google signals like interests and intent to develop personalized creative for two niche audiences each, such as sports fans and technophiles.

They discovered that tapping into this deeper data allowed for more personalized and effective video storytelling. So how can creative agencies leverage audience insights to drive greater impact? We spoke with the creative teams themselves to see what they learned.

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Richer data helps us understand people as they are: multidimensional

“Good storytelling stems from a good idea, an insight, and a truth. I don’t think that’s ever going to change. This project further proved to me that when you know who you are talking to on a very specific level, you can craft that story to be much more effective.”

We Are Unlimited partnered with the Ad Council to help people learn how to prepare for an emergency. Watch their ads for world travelers and people who are stock market savvy.

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Data isn’t a constraint — it can actually boost the creative process

“Looking into deep, specific audience insights opened different kinds of creative boxes in our heads. Because the data was so rich, it helped us tap into different creative executions and then also helped us trim down those executions. Overall, deeper data really helped us create different creative streams.”

Energy BBDO partnered with the Ad Council to help people learn how to prepare for an emergency. Watch their ads for pet lovers and crafty DIY fanatics.

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Behavioral insights enable deeper, more authentic storytelling

“Being able to see what our audience watches was really helpful in figuring out where they’re at, what they enjoy, and how to speak to them. A lot of what we do is based on typical demographics like age and gender, but I thought looking at audience signals was much more interesting. Our strategy team loved using audience signals to tell authentic stories.”

AMP Agency partnered with She Can STEM to empower girls in STEM. Watch their ads for tech-savvy parents and bargain-hunting parents who pride themselves on never paying full price.

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Branding can be more consistent with the help of data

“The ability to understand not only audience differences, but also the components that unite them, is incredibly beneficial. It allows us to maximize the investment behind production and build consistent brand ideas.”

BBDO partnered with Feeding America to drive donations. Watch their ads for gamers and people who love adventuring outdoors.

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Understanding your audience is like a superpower

“The better you know who you’re talking to, the better your conversation will be. Knowing your audience with this level of specificity is like a superpower. Data informs craft, and every little detail of the work becomes hyper relevant and bespoke to each viewer, creating far more meaningful connections.”

Hecho Studios partnered with She Can STEM to empower girls in STEM. Watch their ads for avid readers and parents of grade schoolers.

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To move audiences for a cause, you have to get close to them

“I think the right work at the right time can change the world. When it’s for a cause, identifiers like age, region, and gender aren't necessarily the most accurate indicators of what will move people. These audience signals really enabled us to get closer. A very simple idea, well executed, can get people talking. I think that's really our goal with advertising — to get people to see old problems in a new light.”

Grey partnered with Feeding America to drive donations. Watch their ads for sports fans and people who are environmentally conscious.

Watch the full playlist here.

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