We are living in a paradox. Communications have become compressed, and yet binge-watching is at an all-time high. How do you tell a compelling story and capture attention in this oxymoronic world? Here we spotlight the campaigns of companies that have built their brands by creating immersive content that people actually want to engage with.

Written by
Ben Jones
Published
October 2014
Topics

With each new digital tool, our communications seem to get increasingly compressed. We welcomed Twitter, with its 140-character limit. Then Instagram came along, with no words at all. Soon after, there was a flood of emojis and even a messaging app, Snapchat, that shows a message for mere moments before it disappears.

Compression is a natural response to our overexposure to media of all kinds. Screens surround us every waking moment, so it's no wonder that we crave shorter formats that deliver quick hits of info to keep us up to speed.

Assume for a moment that's true—that we want everything bite-sized and fleeting as we race through our days. That velocity must be affecting all the media we consume equally, making it shorter, faster and more compressed. But when we take a look at the different media we consume, we find the opposite is also true.

Hollywood movies have gotten longer (almost 20 minutes on average) over the past ten years. Television is in love with complex, multilayered stories that span years. Shows such as House of Cards, Breaking Bad and Mad Men immerse us in their worlds so much that we binge-watch. At their current count, the Game of Thrones novels are more than 4,000 pages, yet fans are writing to the author, urging him to write more, faster.

Brands spend so much time worrying that people will tune them out, but what about when people tune them in?

What's going on here? How can we be checking our phones more than 100 times per day yet sit through 30+ hours of Mad Men in one weekend?

The answer is that people don't just want everything faster. They want what they want—fast or slow, long or short—when they want it, and they've become experts at getting just that. They can skip over, filter and tune out everything that isn't exactly what they desire. But the opposite is also true: It's never been easier to focus on what we care about—to immerse ourselves in it, to dig into every detail, to talk incessantly about it with the people who share our passions.

This has direct implications for brand marketers who are constantly trying to capture people's limited attention. Brands spend so much time worrying that people will tune them out, but what about when people tune them in?

At Google, we think about this in terms of "choice plus immersion." Give people the choice of whether to engage. If they do engage, give them the chance to immerse themselves fully. Doing this creates a big challenge: Brands must create compelling and immersive content rather than trying to snatch attention through interruption. Google's Lightbox Engagement Ad format helps brands offer this kind of experience. It can expand into a screen-filling creative canvas, but only when a user hovers over it first.

Here are a few great, global examples of how brands are using "choice plus immersion" to connect to customers, from in-ad gaming and shopping to rich, expanded videos and interactive build-your-own experiences.

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Fendi created an interactive "assembly line" highlighting its new furry "friends" that can be added as an accessory to any bag. The ad ran in Italy, the U.S. and the U.K.

To see more examples of ads like this check out the Rich Media Gallery.

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Using a catalog lightbox, Nomura Real Estate Development allowed users to deeply explore their newly built high-rise condominium, Tomihisa Cross. By March 2014, all apartments had sold out, and the building will be ready for move-in by 2016.

To see more examples of ads like this check out the Rich Media Gallery.

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Brand USA is charged with driving tourism and travel to the U.S. Lightbox Engagement Ads helped it find people while they were browsing travel options and deliver a beautiful digital catalog right on the page, boosting travel intent to the U.S. by as much as 22%. For more on this campaign, see the recent Brand USA case study.

To see more examples of ads like this check out the Rich Media Gallery.