17 Feb

Creative Storytelling in the Digital Age: A Roundtable Debate with the Ad Industries

Last week was Social Media Week. In 9 cities across the world, social media enthusiasts, gurus, ninjas and the like gathered to discuss some trending topics in the real-world instead of online. Whether you attended lectures via livestream webcasts or in person, each event provided the audience with valuable insights into current industry trends. Throughout this week I hope to recap a few of the specific talks I was able to fit into my personal schedule.

I look forward to providing my readers who were unable to attend a look into what was discussed, and others who were fortunate enough to be present, my perspective and takeaways from the panels. I hope you enjoy and encourage your feedback in the comments section below.

A week ago today I attended a lecture hosted by YouTube at JWT in New York City for Social Media Week. The lecture, titled “Creative Storytelling in the Digital Age,” intrigued me and the panel was stacked with some of the most experienced creatives in the field:


  • Nick Parish, Editor at Contagious


  • Alessandra Lariu, SVP Group Creative Director at McCann Erickson
  • Ali Mooney, Trends Specialist at Google
  • Benjamin Palmer, CEO & CCO at Barbarian Group
  • Terrence Kelleman, President Dynomighty Design
  • Nathan Lump, Director of Content Strategy
  • Doug Jaegar, President of the Art Directors Club
  • Robert Davis, Partner, Interactive Marketing Director Leader, Online Video Practice, Ogilvy
  • Colleen DeCourcy, CEO of Socialistic

I cannot begin to measure the value of the knowledge I walked away from this event with. Storytelling has become an art form and creatives are required to engage their audience more and more as time goes on. How many people have to RT a video/blog before you pay attention to it? How many “Likes” does a post have to receive before it warrants your time?

The quantity of real/original content is shrinking, but advertisers’ audiences are growing. We must create compelling material (ads) that engages our target audiences. We can measure the success of our campaigns not by views, not by retweets, but by the time of engagement. If someone watches the first 10 seconds of our 2-minute video our message was not received and he did not buy our product. However, if he watched the entirety of our video and shared it with his friends, we just created a relationship!

“It’s time for brands to stop dipping their toes into social media to see if it is worth it. Just dive in already!”
–        Benjamin Palmer

Brands must encourage their evangelists and fans to interact with their content online. Sharing videos, tweeting updates and commenting on Facebook status updates shows compassion for a product or service. And if my peers trust a company I am going to have more interest in seeing what they can offer me.

“It seems like everyone gets stuck in stage 1!”
–        Nathan Lump

Many companies begin to become involved in new media. However, they don’t dedicate enough resources. Throwing up a Facebook page is not enough. Creating a custom Twitter background doesn’t mean you can just selflessly promote your own product and/or service. Taking the time to understand your audience, their needs and wants shows commitment – a commitment that will provide a great return in the long run. Many people argue over the Return on Investment (ROI) of a social media campaign. I personally believe it is much easier to calculate the ROI of YouTube video, banner ad or Google AdWord campaign than it is to calculate how many new customers you acquired from a billboard over a local highway.

“There is nothing wrong with starting small; you need to test your idea.”
–        Alessandra Lariu

Are you going to take a leap? Are you prepared to go digital? Well, your audience is online, so you should be too. If you have any questions feel free to reach out to me or comment below.

Thanks for reading.