Viral is Defined as the Maximization of Earned Media

As we pioneer the emerging Viral Video Marketing space, we are often asked what we mean when we use the word “Viral”. Viral Marketing is a concept that has existed for years however it has never been wrangled into a structure. Certain veteran marketers we work with believe we are mavericks for aligning ourselves with the concept of Viral. Consequently, we have been encouraged by our stakeholders to define Viral for the world.

We define Viral as the maximization of Earned Media. For those familiar with the digital media space, that makes a ton of sense. For those who are not, let’s start by defining the concepts of Owned Media, Paid Media, & Earned Media as they relate to Viral Videos.

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PSY – GANGNAM STYLE: Viral Video Compilation

As much as we at ViralGains like to think we got the whole Viral Video thing “down” to a science, nothing could have prepared us for the PSY phenomenon. Simply no amount of logicizing (why is Firefox saying I’m spelling it wrong <_< …) can explain why this video attained 180,000,000 views on YouTube alone in 2 months, how dozens of spin-offs have also gone Viral, and why it’s continuing to take the world by storm. No, there is no thinking about it: unnecessary. All we can do is say “thank you Park Jae-Sang,” for the awesome-est song of the summer year any of us could ever have asked for!! I’ll no longer include these in my weekly Top 5 feature; I’ll instead compile them here by view count, updating as new ones release. So, without further ado

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The Emerging Shift to Viral Videos

The Nielsen Q4 2011 Cross-Platform Report confirmed the emerging trend that consumers are watching less television in favor of online video. The shift is expected because of the freedom and breadth of video content offered online. The continued acceleration of online video consumption has marketers seeking cutting edge methods to reach and engage their consumers.

The most common forms of online video marketing have been interfering with the consumer experience. Example one is a “pre-roll” – the advertisement a consumer is forced to watch before he gets to watch the video he selected. Example two is the automatic video advertisement that starts playing while a consumer is browsing her favorite website. While these forms of marketing are effective, brands are seeking a deeper connection with consumers.

Enter the viral video. For years the achievement of a Viral Video has been considered elusive. The industry conception was that a brand’s video would go viral if the content was remarkable.

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Digital Recommendations are Highly Effective

The marketing industry has long understood that peer recommendations hold the most power over purchasing decisions. When a consumer makes a recommendation to a peer it is the most effective form of advertising for a brand. As consumers spend more time on the internet it raises an interesting question. How do digital recommendations compare to verbal recommendations? According to a recent study by CrowdTap, digital recommendations have overtaken verbal recommendations.

The finding is great news for digital advertisers who rely on peer recommendations and viral spread to make an impact. The study says that 70% of consumers made a purchasing decision based on an online recommendation while 61% made a purchasing decision based on a verbal recommendation. Traditional advertisements came in with a lower 49%. How can online video advertisers leverage this new data?

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Shareability is the Hallmark of Viral Videos

One of the biggest questions we are asked in our industry is in regards to the creative nature of Viral Videos. What makes a video go viral? Our official answer is there are several factors that make a video go viral. Today I would like to focus on what I consider to be the hallmark of a successful Viral Video: shareability.

The definition of shareability is the extent to which a particular video is worth being shared. In other words, we need to assess the likelihood a friend would tell a friend. Word-of-mouth is the beginning of an organic growth of a viral video. The classic example is one person tells a few friends who all tell a few of their friends.

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