Wednesday, October 14, 2009

What Makes Viral Advertising Effective?

Has anyone been following the viral commercial sensations that run online? Every Friday in Advertising Age, Visible Measures lists the ten top viral commercials.

What’s interesting is that there usually isn’t a commercial under the length of 60 seconds in the Top Ten List.

In fact, last week there was a five-minute piece that made the Top Ten List. Thirty-second spots and fifteen-second spots were non-existent.

Why is this? After all, the “experts” have been telling us that because people are in control online, the commercials will have to be shorter.

Except, it seems, for the commercials that people like and want to share with their friends.

“But wait just a minute,” I hear you saying, “just because it went viral doesn’t mean it will sell the product.”

And, you’re right. Just because a commercial is entertaining doesn’t mean it will be persuasive.

On October 30th, OMMA is hosting a Video Conference in New York to discuss if going viral helps sell the product. The objective of the conference is to "clearly define success" in a viral approach.

If you register now, you can save some money.

I can save you even more right here.

If success is going to be measured in sales then the question shouldn't be how do you make your advertising go viral? Rather, the questions should be about how the message is crafted and the agruments presented.

Did the story that was told involve the viewer? After all, if the viewer’s not involved, it’s rather difficult to convince them why one product is better than another.

Did the story add some “value” to the viewer’s life for their time spent with the message? Was there a “fair exchange” of their time for something in return? A laugh. A feeling of joy. A nod of recognition. It could be as simple as information.

To go viral, a piece of advertising needs something besides a list of product features. It needs involvement on the part of the viewer. Involvement is what advertisers hire creative people to create.

If done by experts, persuasion and involvement go hand in hand.

If done by experts, the advertising will also go viral.

For those of you who attend the OMMA Conference in New York on October 30th, see if this isn’t what they tell you.

Viral advertising, like any advertising, is only as effective as the message that it contains. Going viral is about the message, not the media.

Same holds true for sales.


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