Story Appeal creates audience curiousity. Basically it’s the out-of-the-ordinary element that causes readers to guess at an explanatory back-story or narrative.
David Ogilvy used the term in his book Ogilvy on Advertising to describe the kind of photographs which best grab reader’s attention, as exemplified by this Hathaway ad:
Here’s what Ogilvy wrote about Story Appeal (and this ad):
“The kind of photographs which work hardest are those which arouse the reader’s curiousity. He glances at the photograph and says to himself, ‘What goes on here?’ Then he reads your copy to find out. Harold Rudolph called this magic element ‘Story Appeal,’ and demonstrated that the more of it you inject into your photographs, the more people look at your advertisements.”
‘The eyepatch injects the magic element of ’story appeal.’“
Do you see how the odd characteristic of the Baron Wrangell character sparks readers’ curiosity? One can’t help but speculate about his background, purpose in the ad, etc. – and so one reads the ad to find out.
Moving the principle online, story appeal creates click throughs from readers hoping to get the full story on your home page. And the “click through” example brings up the obvious point that Story Appeal can work as well for headlines, titles, and tweets as it can for pictures in ads.
Note that this content is a re-hash of one section of my previous Grok post, “Visual Scandal, Story Appeal, and Banner Ads.” I’ve reproduced part of it here to better explain the term “story appeal”