Ben Jones is back to talk AI, the 4 hour advert and The Third Era of Marketing 

What’s the future of storytelling?

Before you try to answer this question, consider these facts.

AIl software can now generate video content on demand – in one year’s time you will be able to generate an entire movie based on a few simple lines of text.

Short story platforms (Tik Tok, Snapchat, Instagram) have now hit staggering views of 30 billion views a day. At the same time in 2021 the streamers (Netflix, Amazon, Disney) released more than 1800 original series – that’s a staggering 90% increase since 2017.

So what on earth, you may ask, does all of this mean about the future of story?

Today, once again, to help me answer that question is Global Director of Creative Works at Google, the brilliant Ben Jones.

For those of you that don’t know Ben, you are in for a feast. 

Today’s Guest 

Ben Jones is Creative Director at Google and Head of Unskippable Labs. A team within Google designated with the huge task of studying the 1 BILLION hours of videos that are viewed onto YouTube EVERY SINGLE DAY. 

Their mission? To work out exactly what makes us press, or not press, the SKIP button. Decoding ‘in real time’ the stories that attract and hold the attention of their 122 million visitors a day. Essentially – what makes a story UnSkippable.

This is Ben’s fourth time on the podcast. However, and I may say this every time, this is by far my favorite conversation.

This feels like a cumulation of all Ben’s predictions about the future of storytelling since we met four years ago – each coming rapidly and simultaneously to life. 

In some ways, far too rapidly.

LinkedIn :

Twitter: @harperjones

You’ll Learn

  • How COVID reset all our patterns when it comes to the stories (and adverts) we pay attention to – and the trends Ben is now watching emerge. 
  • The role of story length when it comes to engagement – this one hit me hard. Including why 3 minute videos are now more powerful than 30 seconds and why the most successful advert he has ever seen – runs for four hours.
  • We talk about why micro-cultures are now more powerful than demographics i.e. why ‘what you love’ is now a better indicator of engagement, than ‘who you are’.
  • We unpack the 3rd era of marketing. An era made up of big stories, invitations and automations.
  • Finally, and unexpectedly – we discuss his experience in navigating one of the hardest chapters of his life – and how a simple poem he wrote became a blueprint that kept him (and eventually many others) moving forward.

The most powerful thing I got from Ben was just how hungry we are for stories. 

For content that’s designed to invite, engage and inspire us – rather than continually overwhelm and interrupt us in the traditional style of advertising.

In Ben’s word’s: “Netflix put $10 billion into content last year, if you could buy all the attention you needed – don’t you think they would have bought it?”

That’s worth really considering for a moment.

It’s a shift in our mindset as storytellers from focusing on paid interruption, to creating a series of thoughtful invitations. 

That one shift, I believe, is the definition of the future of storytelling.

References and links mentioned

If you liked this episode, you might also enjoy my previous conversations with Ben Jones…

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