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Industry / Viral video success?

April 29, 2010

I have recently attended a few industry conferences, and have had a great deal of conversations around measures of success for “viral” video. Now that brands are embracing alternate channels (Finally!) and are moving production dollars away from television and traditional models, the question of how we measure success is often asked, not to mention what the path to success really is.

I will not provide any breakthrough answers here, but I can take two very successful youtube based videos, and pull some facts out about both of them, and let you draw your own conclusions. To prove a point, I have selected two very different videos, content-wise, but what I did want to do is select two videos that were launched at about the same point in time. The major differences are: One video was produced by a large agency, and was directed by an extremely talented directorial duo. The other video, was a parody I created at a pre-production meeting with one earbud in and the other listening to the plan of attack for the shoot I was creative directing later that morning.

Video one is Nissan Canada’s SE-R Project which to date has 538, 324 views on its custom built youtube channel. Video two is my own contribution to the viral pool, a :32 Tiger Woods Parody I called, Tiger goes to the Dentist which to date has 656, 600 views on my unbranded and very personal youtube channel. Here is some tracking data

I am a HUGE fan of Teri Timely who directed the Nissan spot, and in conversation with an agency staffer, I learned that the client and agency’s measure for success was to hit 50,000 views (Really? That’s all it takes?… Wow.). They destroyed that benchmark by using a combination of organic growth, and paid media services (I.E. The Viral Factory). My Tiger Woods parody did not leverage one bit of “digital marketing” and took off almost immediately. I woke the next morning to see that over 200,000 views had already been recorded, and there was no sense that the numbers would slow anytime soon. Sure I know that my parody was riding the coat-tails of the actual W+K Nike spot… but that was precisely the tactic. Swim out past the breakers, and catch the biggest wave.

The point I am trying to make is not matter who your director is, how great your production is, and how awesome the story may be.. Immediacy and spontaneity is the great equalizer here. Within 10 minutes I had a video parody cut, edited, and on its way up to the world via youtube.  Did I do an amazing job of editing…nope.  Did I invest time, money, and effort… nope. Did I invest a few moments of strategy… yup!

Today’s online consumer is looking for something that speaks to him or her that is “of the moment”. I know brands are for the most part not able to jump this fast or this high, and agencies certainly are not structured to be on call every waking moment of the day, so how do we as an industry adjust and recalibrate ourselves to create a blueprint for viral success? The answer is simple, we don’t. What we do need to realize is that sometimes, when the timing is right, and the stars have all aligned.. magic happens.

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