Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Interactive promotion report: virals

[Tags: , , ]. In the third of my Interactive Promotion students' research reports, today Nushin Hussain looks at virals:

Virals (videos, emails, quizzes, games):

Viral promotion fundamentally is a form of advertising where a message is passed user to user through different forms of interactive methods such as videos, emails, quizzes and games. The purpose of viral marketing is to increase awareness of a brand or message. This technique of promotion creates growth in the message’s visibility and effect as it can spread rapidly. Like viruses, such strategies take advantage of rapid multiplication to explode the message to thousands, to millions.

Viral marketing was a term originally coined by venture capitalist Steve Jurvetson to describe the unique referral-marketing program created by Hotmail, one of the first free e-mail services.Hotmail is one of the best examples of viral marketing without a database. Setting up a Hotmail account is free, but every time someone sends an email using the Hotmail service, the email automatically contains an advertisement for Hotmail. Hotmail had rapid development in the 90s, which grew from zero to 12 million users in 18 months

There are different types of viral campaigns –

  • Pass-along: A message which encourages the user to send the message to others. The crudest form of this is chain letters where a message at the bottom of the e-mail prompts the reader to forward the message

  • Incentivised viral: A reward is offered for either passing a message along or providing someone else's address. This can dramatically increase referrals.

  • "Edgy Gossip/Buzz marketing" ads or messages that create controversy by challenging the borders of taste or appropriateness. Discussion of the resulting controversy can be considered to generate buzz and word of mouth advertising.

  • User-managed database: Users create and manage their own lists of contacts using a database provided by an online service provider. By inviting other members to participate in their community, users create a viral, self-propagating chain of contacts that naturally grows and encourages others to sign up as well.

Viral Advantages

There are many plus points to viral marketing hence the popularity of it.

The first and most important advantage to viral marketing is that it is cheap as there is no media cost to it. But the concept of the campaign has to have time spent on it for it to work and extend as the campaign will be unsuccessful if the message is not passed on from person to person due it not being impressive. Another point is that viral marketing has the prospective to have a global audience. This is particularly useful if a product/ service exist worldwide as it is possible to promote with low costs rapidly. A further advantage to viral marketing is that it is easy to measure the effectiveness of a viral campaign as you can find out exactly who has responded to your message and capture data about them. Viral marketing is also a great method of promotion for the reason that people can trust a viral marketing message because they received it from someone they know therefore it’s trustable and most of all, the message will be looked in to where as if it was from an unknown person the email, game etc would be most likely ignored.

Viral Disadvantages

As well as the advantages there are quiet a few disadvantages to viral marketing. The main disadvantage is that there is no guarantee that the message being promoted is being read and being forwarded. Though the idea of a message being spread over the internet around the world may seem perfect, it does have its draw backs such as a message ending up passed on to someone you would rather not be associated with e.g. a competitor campaign taking ideas or getting information from the message.
Also a viral message has to be careful about the size of the message as it may be too large for a recipient to receive particularly if it’s a streamed video or a video clip. This further leads to an issue of software as a recipient may not have the software required to view the message. There are also spam related issues which can be caused as well as people may not want to receive e-mails and take offence and regard the viral messages as spam messages. This can make the receiver angry and create damage to the reputation of the advertiser as they would not be recommended.
Another disadvantage is that people who are sent messages at work may not receive them as companies have anti-virus software’s or firewalls.

Good Viral Marketing

The Subservient Chicken

The Subservient Chicken is a viral marketing promotion of Burger King's line of chicken sandwiches and their "Have it Your Way" campaign. This is a really good viral example based on Burger King. It is called ‘Subservient Chicken’ where there is a person in a chicken costume who listens to your commands that you type in. The site takes literally the advertising slogan "Get chicken just the way you like it". I would say the target audience would be 16 – 25. I personally found this virtual interactive chicken very amusing, especially to how it responds to your commands and most of all the fact that it’s not animated, It is like an interactive webcam.

Tenacious D

Tenacious D ‘The pick of destiny’ is a movie by a rock band called Tenacious D. The website has an interesting concept where in the intro you can hear the band members designing the website step by step and what ever they say changes on the screen. Further in relation to the intro there is viral games called ‘Tenacious D rock the internet’ in which you can type in a website and choose one of the ‘rock’ looks you want Jack Black and Kyle Bass to give it. It is a popular game as it states a count of over 18,000 visits to the game. The target audience would be 14- 25 as they have a large audience of fans due to their music. Some form of law may be taken into consideration because I tried the game out on and it changed some of the text into rock language.

Family Guy DVD

I found this family guy website which is promoting the ‘family guy’ seasons on DVD. What I found most interesting was that there was a form of viral promotion where there is a link to a myspace page which belongs to peter who is a character from the family guy cartoon. After clicking on it I found out all the characters have their own myspace pages. This basically links to the ‘Social networking’ promotion, which in this case creates viral marketing because people have added the characters to their ‘friends space’, so when other people view profiles they will also view the cartoon characters profiles and see the family guy seasons on DVD being promoted. Basically myspace is a huge sociable place on the internet, so the fact that the family guy characters have myspace pages with the promotion of their seasons 1-5 on DVD will be spread and viewed by many people. The target audience for this would be 14 and above because myspace is used by all ages, and the cartoon itself is very mature where adults can relate to it too.

Family guy my space profile:

The Uglifier

Bad examples of Viral Marketing


I found an M&M themed scary movie quiz, which finds you interpreting the symbols to identify movie titles. It is an interesting link in the sense how it has been put together but it was at times not user friendly where the controls would be hard to use at times, therefore it became off putting because the navigation bar was at the top so when you want to use the bar the screen would move the cursor even if you may not want it to move. The quiz is aimed for 18 and above as there are 50 movie titles hidden within the picture, and also because the movies are horror therefore some movies may only be suitable for 18 and above.

Measuring Viral Success

Tracking the progress of any campaign is important in measuring effectiveness. But tracking a viral campaign can often be a challenging task. While "hits" or "impressions" help define the level of activity on a web site, they are not often a true measure of the success of a viral campaign. A measuring way that is encouraged in the viral industry is analyzing the viral effect through the use of databases that will allow tracking individual activity levels and not just the overall traffic.

I also found a paragraph from a website called ‘efluentials’ where it gave few points to consider making measuring viral marketing easier:

‘The key to be able to measure viral activity is to decide on the outcome variable beforehand. What does success mean to this company or for this brand? Is it increased sales, hits on a Web site? Or the number of people who show up at an event? Or media coverage generated from the event times the number of people who read/watch these media sources? Marketers should tie each step of the viral campaign to a measurable outcome.’

In conclusion viral marketing is a great way of promotion as it can be spread worldwide within a year. But for it to spread, there are many aspects to take into consideration for it to be a worldwide success such as the design, the concept, the purpose, the clarity of the message etc. Another characteristic that would make a good viral campaign is that it has to be user friendly especially when it comes to games. The target audience has to be taken into consideration and base the viral upon what would suit and appeal to the target audience. A good viral campaign may also have incentives such as giving discounts for passing on a message. As well as the good points about viral marketing you have to be aware of points that make the success of a viral campaign depend on them such as whether people would even pass on a message. Overall viral marketing is a good method of promotion; it needs to be prepared in a correct way for it to be successful.



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Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey Great Blog. As much as Family guy used to rock in the first few seasons, it is getting down every season with same stale comedy and jokes. IMO Souht Park and SImpsons are also going down the hill.

Anyway for those who can not download Family guy from torrents and are looking for all Seasons of Family guy, they can download it from here -

Hope this helps others.

10:35 AM  

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