REDDING, CT: Telling a story in a series of ads can work well for direct response advertising as well as brand building according to a new study.

Marketing Land reported the findings of a test conducted by Facebook, the social media giant, Adaptly, the social media advertising platform, and Refinery29, a fashion publisher, which led to increased view-throughs and email subscriptions.

More than 2m high-target prospects were identified and then divided into three groups. One saw no ads from Refinery29, one saw a sequenced series of three ads leading to a call to action (CTA), and one received three traditional CTA ads, seeking an immediate response. Each ad in both groups was shown for four days with the ads appearing the news feed on desktop.

The key metrics for the test were the percentage of people who visited the Refinery29 landing pages and the percentage who subscribed to Refinery29 emails. One both these counts, the sequenced CTA ads substantially outperformed the sustained CTA ads, with view-throughs 87% higher and email subscriptions 56% higher.

"By telling the Refinery29 story during the acquisition process, and building awareness and consideration before driving to conversion, we were able to increase our return-on-investment and ultimately acquire a more informed and qualified subscriber," said Melissa Goidel, chief revenue officer at Refinery29.

Overall the second sequenced ad, a mid-funnel brand consideration ad, was the strongest individual ad, while the first, top-of-funnel brand introduction ad converted weakest. But performance was always best – for the sustained CTA ads as well as the sequenced ones – when all three ads were seen.

"Some advertisers may find it counterintuitive to elongate a campaign as a way to more gradually bring their audience through the purchase funnel, rather than more immediately delivering a call-to-action," observed Nikhil Sethi, Adaptly CEO.

"But we have proven that this classic brand-building approach is both effective and efficient, even for direct response advertising."

Data sourced from Marketing Land; additional content by Warc staff