Digital Essays 2014: Stack storytelling


We have reached a point in communications where ‘stack storytelling’ is not a fancy-sounding buzzword; it is the future, says Jamil Zablah.

A few topics have been dominating my conversations these days with clients and partners in the industry. One is what is our mobile strategy for the agency moving forward? The other is how are we using technology to drive efficiencies in holistic buying, optimising and servicing businesses?

I will try to talk about the efficiencies that can be derived by stack storytelling. I’ll get to what that means in a little bit.

The consumer journey has become tremendously fragmented and infinitely more complex over the past few years. There are so many new touchpoints present in consumers’ lifestyles, with brands ever more struggling to make sure they are on the right platforms, communicating the right messages to the right people at the right time. Agencies has, as always, adapted for the greater good, but even more so than the agencies have the adtech market. We’ve all seen that one slide in the presentation that aims to lay out all the adtech options out there along with all the players that are trying their absolute best to squeeze the last cent out of the growing pie. In recent years this – what used to be – very lucrative pie was sliced into so many different pieces resulting in most ad tech companies struggling to survive.

Consequently, and while there are a myriad of solutions provided by ad tech suppliers, most companies have no solid approach to a synchronised view of consumer data. This is no surprise since data is a complex issue since the unifying of that very data has become more complex than it has ever been in the history of the digital age. People aren’t receiving consistent experiences across channels, resulting in them not getting the right message at the right time or the right place.

Most customers have no hesitation ceasing all communication with a company if they are continuously being hammered with irrelevant messaging and unwanted offers. However, that being said, big wins are in store for companies that are able to make messages coherent, relevant and timely and most importantly simple.

There is a quote that I love, which says, “Simplicity is the hallmark of genius”. Brands who are able to make interaction simple, consistent and relevant will win today and continue to win tomorrow, while those that don’t, will simply lose. The ability to tell integrated brand stories across multiple platforms can be a decisive factor in predicting a brand’s success in the coming years. Hence, using an integrated technology stack to efficiently deliver seamless brand stories across multiple platforms, or stack storytelling, becomes that much more important to us.

In order to succeed, stack storytelling requires a number of things, with the increased fragmentation of the user journey and the abundance of touchpoints leading up to a tangible conversion; and an experience-led design should be the starting point. User experience needs to be designed consistently throughout the journey and regardless of the access point. Connection architecture, understanding how the user progresses through the purchase funnel and communicating the right message through the right touch points at the right stage becomes that much more critical to successful storytelling.

All the big tech players have been investing huge amounts of money into developing their tech stacks and they all deliver in certain areas. Google has been investing in their cookie based media and search ecosystem. Facebook has also been making great strides with their people based targeting and attribution offering, as well as their much-improved Atlas re-launch, not forgetting their expanded reach through Instagram and the Audience Network. Oracle too, with their end-to-end omni channel customer management tools, making sure sales and lead management are tracked all the way through; the list goes on and on. Integrating data across platforms allowing the integrated sequence of marketing communications is what will ultimately drive your ROI across any consumer journey. Through stack storytelling and proper integrated data metrics across tech stacks and platforms, we’ve seen phenomenal success where brand metrics, such as favourability, recommendation and consideration have improved tremendously by being able to successfully deliver sequenced messages. From boosts of up to 25 per cent in click through rates, considerable lowering of CPAs and CPCs down by as much as half, it is clear that stack storytelling should be the focus of any brand that wants to be a serious player in the digital communications world.

(Jamil Zablah is managing director at Performics MENA)