New Yahoo!/BBDO study uncovers new model for telling more effective brand stories across paid, owned and earned media

Oct 04, 2011, 15:37 ET from BBDO

NEW YORK, Oct. 4, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- Yahoo! (NASDAQ: YHOO), the premier digital media company and BBDO today announced findings from a comprehensive joint quantitative and qualitative research study designed to establish best practices for brand storytelling in the new era of paid, owned and earned media (POE).  As communications have evolved from one-way to two-way storytelling involving both the brand and consumer, marketers now face new challenges in their efforts to create more human relationships between their brands and these increasingly empowered consumers.

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"Humans crave stories and advertising, at its best, has always been about the business of storytelling to build brands," said Simon Bond, Chief Marketing Officer for BBDO.  "However, given the new media landscape of paid, owned and earned media, branded storytelling has changed forever.  It's no longer what you say, but how you say it.  We designed this study to help us uncover insights that might lead to better understanding of the unique role each channel plays and how to best align them for success."

The output of the study, which incorporates insights from more than 1,000 consumers and marketing professionals, suggests a new framework for how marketers can shape their stories within each of these three different media. In particular, the study showed that virtually all consumers (95%) crave some sort of engagement with brands and that viewing storytelling on POE through the prism of a dating relationship can help marketers increase their chances for success.

"Yahoo! and BBDO aimed to understand the unique and complimentary roles paid, owned and earned media play for marketers," said Lauren Weinberg, Vice President, B2B Research & Insights. "In doing so, we revealed the importance of sustaining engagement with consumers rather than just pushing them through the purchase funnel."

Among the study's key findings:

1.  Paid Media is akin to a "First Date."  It's all about the initial impression and connection, like seeing an ad. You want consumers to "look at me," "like what you see," and "want to come a little closer."  Information delivered via Paid Media should spark consumers' interest.  And just like a great first date, a nascent emotional link will be created and feelings towards the brand can be shaped.  For example, according to the study:

  • Paid media is the primary source for brand information and creating awareness:  73% of consumers saw/heard/read information about brands via paid media and almost half (46%) say "a great brand is like an interesting person at a party"
  • However, 49% of consumers said if they see/hear the same ad over and over again, it makes them shut out the brand.  Another 47% said if they feel like brands are shouting their message too loud and frequently, they will view it like 'aggressive' advertising.  It will also makes the brand "less attractive" (46%)
  • A whopping 82% of consumers will ignore a brand if it is viewed as being intrusive

2.  Owned Media is about "Getting Closer."  Consumers want to experience brands more fully for themselves, for example, going on a company's website in order to determine their level of attachment.  In this phase, the consumer is beginning to become emotionally invested and form a deeper connection. They are deciding if they want to associate with the brand, spend more time with it and get to know it better.  In short, they need to find a reason to stay.

  • 96% of consumers want to know the price, product attributes and proof points
  • 57% want to know about the history and quirky details of a brand
  • 54% of consumers feel it is very important that brands provide information about "why we should care about them"
  • Almost half (45%) are looking for interesting stories about the brand

3.  Earned Media is like "Being in a Relationship." This is the channel for building passion and trust via positive consumer reviews or news articles, for example. The overarching themes are reciprocity and advocacy.  It's about transparency:

  • 79% of respondents say brands should be "more genuine"
  • An equal number believe it is important for both brands (and people) to be down-to-earth and self-aware
  • 77% want brands to be responsive and engaging
  • 59% vote for brands to be "more empathetic."  In fact more than two out of three respondents acknowledge that brands "make mistakes."  The key is to respond e.g., for consumers to hear from the brand and to acknowledge their mistake (65%)

Based on these findings, we provide brands with a new model for sustained engagement that will allow them to develop deeper consumer relationships. We have identified the following opportunities for marketers to improve their storytelling across each of these three channels:

1.  It's not just what you say but how you say it. With Paid Media, there is an opportunity to inform, surprise and delight.  And when you do, consumers are more likely to share this information

2.  Owned Media is where marketers have an opportunity to get consumers to take action...and to stay.  Here is where storytelling should be at its best.  The use of arcs to draw out a story and build sustained interest is one example.  It's also where marketers should rely more heavily on digital media to help build these sustained connections

3.  Earned Media is the place where marketers can build "passion brands."  This is where consumers should play a role, where brands need to be responsive to what is happening "in the moment" and where authenticity and humanity are at their peak.  It's also where consumers can exert their greatest control


BBDO's mantra is "The Work. The Work. The Work."  Every day, people in 287 offices in 79 countries work job by job and client by client, to create and deliver the world's most compelling commercial content.  Today, BBDO is recognized as both the world's most creative and effective agency network.  For the past five years, BBDO has been Network of the Year at Cannes as well as the world's most awarded agency network in The Gunn Report.  In addition, BBDO is the number one ranked network across all marketing communication platforms in The Big Won report.  And Effie Worldwide named BBDO the world's most Effective Agency Network in its inaugural Effie Effectiveness Index released this year.  BBDO is part of Omnicom Group Inc. (NYSE: OMC) (www.omnicomgroup.com), a leading global marketing and corporate communications company.


Yahoo! (NASDAQ: YHOO) is the premier digital media company, creating deeply personal digital experiences that keep more than half a billion people connected to what matters most to them, across devices and around the globe. And Yahoo!'s unique combination of Science + Art + Scale connects advertisers to the consumers who build their businesses. Yahoo! is headquartered in Sunnyvale, California. For more information, visit the pressroom (pressroom.yahoo.com).

Yahoo! is home to the #1 sites for finance, sports, news, entertainment news and more.

Yahoo!, and Yahoo! News are the trademarks and/or registered trademark of Yahoo! Inc

All other names are trademarks and/or registered trademarks of their respective owner.

Yahoo! CONTACT: MaryLiz Ghanem maryliz@yahoo-inc.com (646) 213-6279

BBDO CONTACT: Deborah Zdobinski deborah.zdobinski@bbdo.com (212) 459-6568


Thirteen key facts you might not have known that were discovered in this study:

  • Virtually all consumers (91%) want to create shared experiences with others; ironically, only 56% of marketers believe the same thing.  This suggests marketers may not be in touch with their consumers
  • Almost half of all consumers and marketers who participated in this study believe finding interesting stories is one way consumers can fulfill their desire to share experiences
  • Digital is the most dominant channel for enabling consumers to share their experiences.  Nearly 60% say that's the way to share stories (versus less than 40% for TV, radio and print)
  • Consumers have high expectations of brands:  79% say brands should be genuine; 77% say they should be engaging; and 59% expect that brands "should understand me"
  • Those brands for which consumers are "passionate" enjoy a significant advantage over "regular" brands (e.g., 53% vs 33% view the brand as a "very close friend"
  • Passionate brands are:  consistent, genuine, make you feel better, try to do the right thing, interesting, accessible, decent, responsive
  • Consumers understand that brands make mistakes (69%); however, they also expect to hear from them if they do (65%)
  • Better watch out if a brand behaves badly:  56% will tell others.  However, an equal number will do the same if a brand responds in a positive manner
  • If a brand is unresponsive, nearly 50% of consumer respondents said they would like to see it fail in the market
  • 46% of respondents say a great brand is like an interesting person at a party
  • 54% of respondents believe a brand needs to tell consumers why we should care about them
  • 82% of respondents believe the ability to ignore a brand if it is being intrusive is very important
  • Nearly half of all consumers tell brands "don't shout at me"