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The Theory of Viral Marketing via Videos and Websites

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					Title:
The Theory of Viral Marketing via Videos and Websites

Word Count:
1620

Summary:
Viral marketing is the holy grail of marketing. The goal of any
successful marketing campaign is to generate buzz and awareness about the
product or service being offered. If done correctly, the campaign will
generate expansive reach, strong brand-building, strong sales, all at a
relatively low production and distribution cost.


Keywords:
viral marketing adcubes videos big ad carlton draught coke happiness
factory


Article Body:
<strong>Introduction and Background</strong>

Viral marketing is the holy grail of marketing. The goal of any
successful marketing campaign is to generate buzz and awareness about the
product or service being offered. If done correctly, the campaign will
generate expansive reach, strong brand-building, strong sales, all at a
relatively low production and distribution cost.

Viral marketing can occur through many mediums, but the Internet is
currently the reigning champion. Cheap resources (always-on internet
access), efficiency in building contact networks (email, messengers,
blogs, websites, etc.), and an abundance of new content (think
Youtube.com) means that there is always something interesting and easy to
share. Videos and websites are probably the most effective internet
platforms for internet viral marketing.

The caveat of viral marketing is that since you are leveraging other
people's resources (their time and effort, their email lists, etc.), they
will be on the lookout for signs of commercialism. A person will not
spread a company's message because there is no benefit for him. He
actually suffers because he is losing credibility among friends. On the
other hand, if the same person told his friends to give to an orphanage
or other charity, he will be well received and appear magnanimous.

So assuming that your target viral marketer – the person who sees your ad
and must spread the advertisement to his acquaintances – falls somewhere
in between the extremes of shamelessly plugging a company and expounding
upon the virtues of charity, you must balance the inherent commercialism
with his desire to spread your message. You must produce something so
interesting and compelling that your target marketer has no choice but to
share it, marketing message payload and all.

So here is where we strike upon the most difficult challenge of creating
a successful viral marketing campaign – finding the balance of creativity
and uniqueness while not diminishing the purpose of your marketing in the
first place. The challenge is stiff: too commercial and it will not
spread beyond the first marketer, too radical and your brand image may no
longer match the content of the advertisement. However, do not despair.
It has been done with impressive success, and as long as there is an
audience of willing consumers, many more impressively successful
campaigns will manifest.

<strong>Examples of Successful Commercial Viral Videos</strong>

The Superbowl is the largest television event in America. Every year, 40
percent of America households, or approximately 80-90 million Americans,
are tuned into the Superbowl at some time. The 30 second Superbowl
commercial, the most revered spot in American broadcasting, sold for a
reported $2.5 million in the 2006 Superbowl.

With viral marketing, the same level audience can be reached, but at a
fraction of the cost. The best viral marketing is not blasted at once to
a large audience, but once seeded to a few individuals, will grow until
many millions of people will have heard of it. Importantly, these people
are not just receiving a television broadcast, but they are telling their
friends about it, discussing it, joking about it, and making a mental
impression of it. One person who tells others about a video he saw is
more valuable than 10 who see your video and forget about it.

One successful viral video shows 2 men dressed in lab coats demonstrating
the befuddling Diet Coke and Mentos chemical reaction. Apparently, if you
drop Mentos breath mints into Diet Coke, it creates a reaction akin to
mixing baking soda and vinegar. Many videos were produced, but this
particular video was probably the best produced, including a musically
choreographed demonstration of over 100 Diet Coke and Mentos fountains.
After being featured on CNN, it was revealed that the video's creators
had already made several tens of thousands of dollars selling the
advertisements at the beginning and end of the video.

- <a href="http://youtube.com/watch?v=IK48lNuNSyk">Coca Cola and
Mentos</a>

The Diet Coke video is an example of how viral videos can make money. But
a company that wishes to get exposure needs a different approach. One way
is for the company to sponsor the creation of a new video (or the sequel
of a previously popular video), and then intersperse the company's logo
and website throughout the video. A good example of this is Stride gum's
commission of "Where the Hell is Matt" – a video that shows Matt dancing
for a few seconds at dozens of places around the world, all set to funny
music. The video is novel and ridiculous at the same time – just how many
airports, customs, and taxis did Matt and his crew have to go through
just to shoot a few seconds of Matt's dancing? Anyways, the video took
off, and Stride cannot be disappointed with their return on investment.

- <a href="http://youtube.com/watch?v=ZiGDSr_DFlE">Where the Hell is
Matt?</a>
However, the Matt video still only straddles the line of balancing
commercialism and content. The perfect video would both integrate the
company's product with content so compelling that the commercial aspect
is no longer a concern. To remove the commercial aspect would destroy the
very fabric of the commercial. Below, I have included the links of 2
successfully circulated videos, one for Coca-Cola and one for Carlton
Draught. These ads are classics of viral marketing because of their
power, their persuasiveness, and elegance in weaving together
commercialism and content.

- <a href="http://youtube.com/watch?v=tZslkC4y2qY">Carlton Draught Big Ad
</a>
- <a href="http://youtube.com/watch?v=RbOLjfKqE5s">Coke Happiness Factory
</a>

<strong>A Case Study for Successful Web Marketing</strong>

Viral videos excite on a visual and auditory level, but have limitations
in spreading your company's message. Unless you are making a branding
video, and can pull of something like Coke or Carlton Draught, the user
may not even know what your company does unless he goes to your website
or otherwise tries your product. A website can be a successful viral
platform that not only generates visitors, but can also deliver your
company's message. In this case study, we will look at a service called
AdCubes that combines all the elements of successful viral web marketing.

- <a href="http://www.ibtimes.com/adcubes">AdCubes</a>

The first element that of a successful viral website is to have an idea
that is at once unique and creative. The website must offer something the
visitor and the visitor's friends will need. In the case of the AdCubes,
the product is mundane – it is an advertisement that is sold to anybody
who wishes to purchase it. However, the concept is unique. Each ad cube
costs $1 more than the previous one. As more and more people visit the
site, the ads become more valuable, and the price is naturally driven up
by purchases made by the same visitors.

The payoff for buying an ad is huge – the person who purchased the first
ad for $1 has received hundreds of clicks for his investment. As the
value of the ads increase, people will return to the site often, morbidly
curious how much advertisers would pay for the same cube that others have
purchased for less. Will the price top out at $100 per cube? Or will it
be nearer $100,000?

The beauty of this system is that it is self-reinforcing. People will
come and buy ads, and tell their friends about the site. As more and more
buzz builds, traffic increases, advertisers increase, and the price of
the ads increases. The increasing price drives more buzz, and eventually
will garner media attention. Then when buzz is peaking, the price of ads
will peak as well, driving higher and higher interest in the concept. In
the end, the payoff to the site's owners could be millions of dollars.
The payoff to advertisers could be millions of impressions and thousands
of clicks. The payoff to visitors would be to witness a web phenomenon in
action.
Of course, there is a lot of seeding that must be done before a site can
successfully become a viral property. However, once the seeding process
begins, a well-planned site will grow closer and closer each day toward
critical mass. Once the critical mass is satisfied, then the site truly
becomes viral, growing more and more popular without any input from the
creators. This process can be facilitated by improving distribution
channels. In the case of AdCubes, a links page allows webmasters and
blogs to easily post about the site. Each sales confirmation email also
contains a request for the advertiser to tell his acquaintances about his
new AdCube.

There are many   approaches to making a successful viral web site, but the
basics are the   same. You must have compelling content, it must be
accessible for   free or at low cost, and it must be easy to transmit. Once
the basics are   in place, the only thing left is seeding the first
visitors until   you reach the critical mass.

<strong>Additional Successful Web Marketing</strong>

- <a href="http://www.subservientchicken.com/"> The Subservient Chicken
from Burger King </a>
- <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Haunted_Apiary "> I Love Bees for
Halo2</a>
- <a href="http://www.milliondollarhomepage.com">The Million Dollar
Homepage</a>

<strong>Conclusion</strong>

It is essential for marketers to understand viral marketing. Why spend
resources on getting your company message out when you can recruit others
to do it for you? You will need to have creativity in spades to find that
all-compelling idea that people cannot help but spread, but find that
idea, and you will be well on your way toward profiting from the holy
grail of marketing.

<strong>Resources Referenced</strong>
- <a href="http://www.youtube.com">Youtube Videos</a>
- <a href="http://www.ibtimes.com">International Business Times</a>