4 Reasons Why Brands Should Create Non-Fiction Web Ads

Non-Fiction Ads

By Thomas Zukowski

The 30-second television commercial is gasping for airtime. With cord-cutting on the rise, audiences have less and less exposure to traditional TV commercials that feature a product and its benefits. Millennials spend more time than ever consuming content on the web through subscription-based services like Netflix and Hulu, free video sites like YouTube and even social media platforms. Society is migrating from the small screen to the computer screen, and marketers have had no choice but to adapt. As social media has inadvertently distanced us from one another, many brands have found great success with ads that explore truthful human connection. It’s a trend that never goes out of style, and here’s why:


Modern audiences have excellent bulls--t detectors when it comes to brand messaging, so getting them to engage can be a struggle. Typical product spots will get more skips than a scratched disc. On the other hand, compelling non-fiction ads focus on the sentimental value associated with enjoying the product. Some of the best ads never mention the product, and instead present real stories that resonate with targeted audiences on a more personal level. Earlier this year, Toyota debuted “To Be a Dad,” a simple interview piece where pro athletes discuss the joys and challenges of fatherhood. Though there was nary a mention of Toyota, the video's honesty and vulnerability builds trust with the consumers and leaves a lasting impression.


On social media, your friends and family share their intimate moments and opinions with the world. Advertisers want a voice in the conversation too. Real stories come off as less of an intrusion. Brands strike gold when a non-fiction advertisement transcends the product and actually inspires you to feel something. Who knows, you might just find yourself emotionally affected by an Always commercial.

Beautiful Accidents

Video production is a lengthy process. Most scripted commercials go through several rounds of rewrites, storyboards and revisions from multiple sources before the record button is pressed. Contrarily, documentary-style filmmaking relies on spontaneity. As a scene unfolds, beautiful accidents can happen that no amount of pre-production could have anticipated. In an interview, one question could provoke a brilliant piece of insight that sparks an entire campaign. In director Casey Neistat's case, setting off on an adventure with a flexible game plan can produce unexpected surprises. 


The web is the perfect place to experiment with different types of media. Rather than spending millions on traditional television campaigns, brands can test targeted content in the form of micro-videos. Non-fiction ads are an inexpensive, impactful way to reach your audience and garner immediate, measurable results.

Honest, compelling stories are immune to change in the advertising landscape. What are some of some of your favorite non-fiction ads?

For more examples, check out Baron Fig’s Idea Series, Red Bull’s Super Slo-Moto, and Dove’s Real Beauty Sketches.

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