The Viral Video Formula

I think that in the last five years, every marketer has uttered the words, "Let's make a viral video". From the Pizza Hut disaster to Samsung and their LED sheep, they're literally everywhere. Most fail, but some make it. And the ones that do typically get a nice write up in AdAge and other marketing pubs to talk about how great they are.

So is there a formula for making a viral video? Some magic list that a creative should follow when they get a silly request from client like this one? If there was one, here's a potential top five points:

1. Use scantly clad women who are seductive and over the top. See Diesel SFW

2. Do something with an animal. They can be cute, or just plain weird.

3. Do crazy with a random accessory. Like with Ray Ban Sunglasses

4. Get an athlete to do something crazy. Even if it isn't real.

5. Use a baby (see below):

To be honest, I like the new baby spot from Evian. And so do the people who use YouTube (over 3 million hits in a few weeks). So, what else would you add to the list?

Nothing To Hide...

Here's one of the most viewed video's from YouTube over the last week. I love ANZ as an airline. Not a bad spot, nice idea and it certainly seems to be resonating with the YouTube community (ie. The World).


Forbes integrates Google into their site

As I was doing research on a post-in-progress when I went Google and entered my search terms. The third or fourth organix search result was an article on Upon clicking through on that link I was greeted with this wonderful Google ad unit.

I look forward to seeing this on more sites in the future because it makes so much sense for content aggregators, news sites, retail sites and content providers. Google in all of it's search majesty may not every time deliver you to the best content within the site you have selected so by providing visitors with access to being able to see all related content just within that site the visitor delivered by search is provided with the best possible chance of finding the right content quickly.

I would be interested in finding out what % of visitors interact with this unit and if it has reduced the bounce rate of search based visitors.

The Advertising Model Isn't Broken

There has been a lot of talk over the past 5 years specifically about how the "Advertising model is broken" and how we need to be looking for a way to fix it. Post after post after post have spoken about how we are bombarding the consumer with too many messages, how new tactics have reeked of desperation and how agencies aren't adapting quickly enough.

It is all bullshit. The problem is not that the model is broken, the problem is that there is a model.

Every brief is different. Every challenge has a different solution so why does a model exist?

Well for a few very wrong reasons.
  1. Agency Remuneration - This is the root of all evil. The compensation models are generally based on either commission (% of production and/or % of media spend), a retainer which is generally tied to the clients total budget for the year among other variables or it is based on project work that is tied to agency hours at a set rate. Now, this is a big part of the problem because agencies are in the business of making money. Would you pitch a unique idea with very little media spend or production to your clients knowing you are throwing a ton of revenue out the window? If you are being paid on the project basis what is your incentive to recommend an idea like the DC Snowboard park viral video campaign where there was zero spent on media and the majority of the money would have been sent out of the agency to vendors.

  2. Marketers aversion to risk - Risk should be the favourite 4-letter word of all marketers. Instead it is safe. Last time I checked marketing at it's best is an application of art, sociology, social sciences, psychology, economics, technology, mathematics and common sense. To me this means understand your target, product, market, competition, brand and how you can use this information to analyze, anticipate and satisfy customers profitably. Nothing about this says safe. To analyze you must take a risk. To anticipate you must take a risk. To satisfy you must take a risk.

    If you look at data and analyze it you take a risk by putting forth your recommendation about what you think the data says and how you should use it. Data analysis is a science and science is marriage of observation and experimentation. In our case the observation must inform the experimentation and the predicted outcomes. What marketers should do everyday is experimentation informed by their observation of art, sociology, social sciences, psychology, economics, technology mathematics and common sense.

    I hope I don't need to explain why the marketing task of anticipation means risk is involved. Finally, without risk how can you satisfy? Along with answering a need, human nature desires something new, unique, refreshing and I will argue simple that meets expectations to be satisfied.

    At every step of a marketers job they are faced with and required to deal with risk effectively. A model makes them feel safe. Asking for and receiving the expected is easy and their job is protected. I wish the definition of marketing was "take a risk". The opposite of risk in todays business world is not safe, but obsolescence.

  3. Historical Influence - My first example would be the fact that marketers, media agencies and CFO's follow media to production percentages. What if an unbelievable idea was presented that that included a TV commercial that would only run once, drive to web where an immersive and engaging experience was delivered that met the communication and business objectives? Would it be approved if media to production was 1:1 or 0.5:1? Going back to the Advertising model historically campaigns would be required to include (based on budget) TV first, Newspaper second, then radio, then OOH, then maybe magazine, online display if money is still around, possibly search or email and if they are targeting youth most likely social media (even though you can target any demo through it).
There are other issues such as a lack of commitment to become better at marketing and advertising by organizations that market, agencies and our education systems. But deeper even is the indifference that has plagued the average consumer. Consumers have become accustomed to allowing their favourite commercial to be interrupted by shit commercials, to accepting Junk Mail as a necessary evil, to supporting companies that destroy beautiful urban landscapes with horrible clutter and continue to purchase from these offenders.

We probably will never find the marketing/advertising utopia some of us dream of but hopefully sometime the industry will wake-up and see that the model is not broken, it is not necessary.

And yes I used MS Paint on the image above. I was feeling old school.


Got a Great Application Idea? Make it happen.

Full disclosure: I worked on this campaign, specifically in the digital realm. A ton of great people helped put it together and we're all extremely happy with the way users are engaging with it across the digital world. Let me know your (honest) thoughts here.

In early June, Rogers launched a national campaign to announce that Google Android devices had finally come to Canada. The two featured devices, the HTC Magic and Dream, are Google-enabled and loaded with excellent applications (from Latitude to YouTube). As an iPhone user, I was pretty skeptical about the capabilities of the device but after playing with it for over three months, I was hooked. The full keyboard makes a huge difference and there are a ton of apps that you can't (yet) get on the iPhone.

The campaign was launched through TV, print, OOH and a number of digital extensions - from a pre-launch microsite to YouTube page takeovers. Our campaign microsite used video and innovative technology to really bring the devices to life. Check it out here.

But the reason for this post is to discuss a Facebook contest that launched yesterday. With the launch of the iPhone, BlackBerry and Android platforms, everyone is starting to think about applications that they'd love to have on their phones. From games to maps, contacts to social networks, you can get just about anything. But if you could make your own application, what would it be?

That's the question that we've asked to our users and in just 24 hours and we've already had a ton of submissions. Each week, we are giving away a device to the top voted on idea and at the end of the contest, Rogers will select one to actually build for the user.

Users can submit their ideas via copy or mobile and it's extremely simple to submit your idea and reach out (read: spam) your friends for votes. Take a look at some of the submissions and feel free to put in your own.

I always love feedback to any campaign so please feel free to leave your thoughts in the comments below. Thanks to everyone who was involved. Sweet work.

Must Know Twitter Stats

I was reading a great article today about a study done on Twitter. It contains 10 stunning stats that any advertiser should be aware of when they are building a campaign using the service. Here are two of my favorites:
  • Half of all Twitter users are not "active." If you take a general description of being "active" on Twitter to mean that you have posted a tweet at some point in the last 7 days (1 week), then the survey learned that 50.4% of all Twitter users fit this category. If you remove the 21% from point #1, this leaves about 30% of users who have an account and have tweeted before, but happen to be inactive now.
  • Twitter is being led by the social media geeks. This particular finding should likely come as no surprise, but 15% of Twitter users who follow more than 2000 people identify themselves as social media marketers. These individuals are more likely to post updates every day (sometimes more than once per day) and also use Twitter more actively for direct communication.
Love that the "Social Media Marketers" are leading the charge of Twitter. It's amazing how a lot of us feel the need to justify our experience across multiple platforms even though, deep down, we might not really see the need to use them. I know that a ton of these experts use the service and love it, but still. This is quite the finding and helps to show the flood of Twitter requests within the ad industry over the last few months.


How to ruin a perfectly good vacation...

Virgin Australia has just launched a new contest that revolves around Twitter. The contest asks people to apply for a trip to LA and the chance to win a round-the-world ticket from the airline. Winners get to go to LA for three days but there is a small, 140-character catch:

You have to post a Tweet every minute from their 3-day trip. That's 4320 tweets in 72 hours.

While I really like the site design (simple, straightforward writing), I don't know how much fun this prize would be for the winner - especially if you've never been to LA before. It's one thing to have a great experience, quite another to have to apologize to everyone you meet to post a Tweet every 60 seconds.

That being said, the amount of content that will be produced from this will be interesting. I don't know many Twitter users who would want to follow a person like this for 72 hours, but it could generate some good buzz for the contest and raise awareness around the trip (which I'm sure was the main objective).

What do you think? Would you enjoy LA if you had to tweet every minute of your trip?