Today, consumers no longer simply suggest brands play a role in building a more sustainable and inclusive world—they expect them to. With this demand higher than ever—and a myriad of ways to tell their stories—brands are looking for better ways to drive change. So with some staggering ambitions, we put YouTube’s formats to the test, and what we discovered set a new standard for creative storytelling.
To understand how change could be forged by the power of storytelling, we partnered with the United Nations and Tribeca Enterprises and presented creatives with a brief of global importance; Raise awareness and action for the Global Goals for Sustainable Development by telling sequential stories that take viewers on a journey—and inspire them in ways proven more impactful than a single ad spot. Addressing issues from gender equality to climate action and quality education, 8 creative teams of world-class agencies & filmmakers developed campaigns which sparked decisive action and achieved real-world outcomes.
Ipsos has shown that ad sequencing drives higher retention than a single repeated ad—a statistic substantiated by our 8 campaigns. With 100% of campaigns influencing brand lift, as well as driving action (+120% YoY traffic to GlobalGoals.org and +80% in new visitors), the results spoke for themselves.
More than that, the work produced by the creative teams, uncovered six key learnings that will change the game for future creators;
1) Primed viewers unlock powerful potential.
Whether preparing a viewer for a long form piece, reiterating a key point, or breaking down a story for greater impact -- ad sequencing means you can build your story in ways like never before. The Sustainable Cities & Communities team primed viewers for a Sustainable Cities & Communities long-form film with teaser content of a similar look and feel, resulting in an 85% higher viewer rate than the next most viewed asset. Meanwhile, the Zero Hunger campaign used follow-up messages featuring different characters to reiterate a key point about food waste. Other campaigns benefited from breaking down a rich story, such as Life Below Water’s mockumentary about individual pollutants in our oceans.
2) A second chance can be more powerful than a first impression.
How you treat watchers and skippers differently can have a huge influence on viewership and engagement—a challenge that creative teams rose to in different ways. For example, the Responsible Consumption and Production team had a hypothesis that they could “roast and retry” a skipper with a punishment song to regain attention, and their hypothesis panned out: View rate increased or remained steady on videos following the “retry,” and the video immediately following the “roast” drove a watch time 49% higher than the campaign average.
3) Consistent visual cues are the kings of consideration.
When it comes to effectiveness, the number of stories in a sequence doesn’t matter as much as the connection that can be established between them. All the campaigns that resulted in a large lift in consideration had a repeated visual cue, whether it was a red sweatshirt in No Poverty, a gold backdrop in the Responsible Production and Consumption, or clouds of purple smoke in Climate Action.
4) Fast-track performance by front loading.
Just as a front-loaded ad can maximize impact, the teams discovered a front-loaded sequence can have similar results. So, instead of fixating on completion rate, they thoughtfully considered the purpose and potential impact of each ad. Avoiding the temptation to bury the action ensured the story and key message were clear even if viewers didn’t finish watching the sequence.
5) Sequencing is a powerful way to approach ad frequency.
Using multiple, different ads in sequence performs better than repeating the same ad. According to IPSOS, video sequences with three ads increased key message retention by 89% — much higher than two repeating ads. All 8 creative campaigns executed on this insight, using a combination of creative to drive impact for their goal.
6) Let sequencing fill the funnel.
The teams found that ad sequencing offered them greater audience context and narrative control than traditional ad campaigns, which enabled them to use clearly differentiated messaging to reach a variety of viewers. This intentional approach led to an increase in consumer awareness of and consideration to take action on the Global Goals, as well as a huge uptick in site visitors.
While there are an abundance of ways to reach viewers, the campaigns created in partnership with the United Nations and Tribeca Enterprises proved that better ways of communicating messaging are constantly evolving. And whether brands are trying to change the world, or to drive business growth, ad sequencing has the power to help tell stories that create impact time after time.
Hear from the teams and see all the work here.