Viral marketing, arguably one of the quickest growing forms of online marketing in the last few years, has become a by-word for unorthodox, and often risqué advertising on the internet. We experienced our own small version of viral marketing when our popular Naming Machine began getting traffic worldwide. From the infamous Puma Adverts to the VW Polo suicide bomber video (with both organisations denying they commissioned them) providing the catalyst for the revolution, we’ve seen many other organisations jump on the band wagon. Indeed entire agencies have sprung-up to cater for the demand for viral advertising, The Viral Factory being a good example. Not all big brands have benefited from this new advertising medium though. Coca Cola recently feel foul of disguising a blog with a view to market coke zero. Users felt cheated and left in droves.
However Just as Viral Marketing seems to have been reaching mainstream public awareness, with TV programs showcasing the best and current affairs programs talking about viral campaigns, the rug seems to have been pulled out from beneath this cash cow.
Viral marketing begins by “seeding” footage, images, links to websites etc. on forums and user groups, and as popularity increases users pass the links onto their friends who pass to their friends and the viral ball begins to roll.
There’s a certain kudos to be had in finding off-the-wall, funny, and obscure content online, a kudos that is gained from passing this content onto others, just in the way we get a kick out of sharing a great joke with friends.
Up until recently sourcing this content was undertaken by those at the “seed” level, users who spent long hours online and were well connected with what’s hot and what’s not. Recently however with the arrival of Google Video and You Tube finding great viral material is simply a case of looking at the user rated top 100. Granted this makes the job of seeding viral much easier for the distributors, but at the same time removes the users kudos gained from finding it.
More importantly thanks to the rise of You Tube and Google Video the user can now make and share their own material. One could argue this will make professionally made viral content all the more valuable when compared to amateur efforts, however as the amateurs get better, corporate sponsored virals may become indistinguishable from the masses of public submitted footage.
And finally, search “fat women treadmill” on You Tube and you’ll be treated to the fascinatingly grotesque spectacle of an enormous obese women attempting to lose weight. Perhaps there’s scope for a Weight Watchers viral in there, but realistically I can’t see big brands risking comparative footage to gain attention any time soon. It’ll be interesting to see what happens over the coming year, and if come Christmas viral marketing is still the buzzword it is right nowViral marketing begins by “seeding” footage, images, links to websites etc. on forums and user groups, and as popularity increases users pass the links onto their friends who pass to their friends and the viral ball begins to roll. There’s a certain kudos to be had in finding off-the-wall, funny, and obscure content online, a kudos that is gained from passing this content onto others, just in the way we get a kick out of sharing a great joke with friends..
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