Finding the viral Holy Grail: dumb luck or good management?

Online video has been an integral part of marketing campaigns for years, and a video going gangbusters on YouTube and other video sites is like the Holy Grail of marketing. Support, content, timing and knowing your audience are all elements that have to be included in the mix. But what’s often glossed over is the above-the-line support that is typically needed to get the ball rolling.

Youtube Video

An example is the video series starring babies to promote online stock market trading service E*TRADE. The newest video has had nearly six million views and counting, which is amazing promotion and exposure for the company. But you know what kicked off the viral effect? A half-time ad during Super Bowl, the most expensive TVC slot in the world.

How about that cool Evian ‘roller babies’ video (25 million views)? That didn’t have any traditional above-the-line expenditure right? Correct, but it did have prominent homepage ads in YouTube’s seven most popular regions (US, UK, Australia etc.)

What if you haven’t got the budget to light the touch paper in the same way as E*TRADE or Evian? Then you have to use offline integration, which is where ‘out of home ads’ demonstrate their continued relevance. According to Nielsen NZ’s research, 73 percent of the country’s internet users sent or shared a link in the last year. But are people more likely to send or share a link when they have time on their hands, like waiting for the bus, or is it purely to do with compelling content?

Content is crucial, as it always has been. People want something that adds value to their lives. With online video, this normally means something that can be shared with your social networks and conveys emotion, often humour. Having said that, capturing people at the right time is also key. I guess it’s similar to email marketing: you always get a better response if you send something around 9am as people are settling in at their desks.

Encouraging user-generated content is a great way to create and spread online video, as shown by the Old Spice ads. Jumping onto a video trend in a clever and appropriate way is also going to be a growing area. There was a recent fad for rainbow videos in the US. It was a strange phenomenon, but it could have been used very effectively by the right brand to make their own version.

Most businesses want to relate the campaign back to sales. Have a read of this comparison between Old Spice and Kotex (a US feminine care brand) to see which campaign had the best impact on the bottom line.

Panasonic (which, disclosure of interest, is a client of Bullet PR) has a campaign running where Kiwis are asked to upload their own ‘exceptional performance’ on www.evolta.co.nz to win a range of prizes, including a 42 inch plasma TV.

The current leader, with 45 percent of the overall views (over 4,500 at the moment) is a young soccer player with mad skills. Or a cute kid with aspirations of being the next Michael Jackson. So far there have been around 18,000 total video views, 25,000 page impressions and 172 videos uploaded.

The Panasonic Evolta campaign has been integrated with TVCs, back-of-bus ads, bus shelters and billboards. And we have noticed an interesting and encouraging element to this campaign: the majority of uploads have come from an older, typically less digital, audience. This is great news as the campaign has hit the right audience, those who buy the most batteries.

With a few weeks to run and more videos to be uploaded, it’s not yet possible to judge the impact in terms of sales. However, the campaign has reached a large and relevant audience and increased brand awareness for Evolta. Ultimately, you can only judge bottom line success if Evolta sales have increased in the coming months.

Anyway, I’m keen to hear other people’s thoughts on online video for marketing.

  • Alex Erasmus is an account manager with Bullet PR

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