The Validity of Viral Video: Does it Really Help a Business?

noodleproudSoftware and s/w Development

Oct 29, 2013 (4 years and 11 days ago)

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THE VALIDITY OF VIRAL: DOES VIDEO ADVERTISING REALLY HELP A BUSINESS?


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The Validity of Viral Video: Does it Really Help a Business
?



Brooke
A.
Harris


Weber State University













THE VALIDITY OF VIRAL: DOES VIDEO ADVERTISING REALLY HELP A BUSINESS?


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Abstract

New technology ha
s

made it easier for companies to market their products online.
YouTube and other social media si
tes are
great tool
s

for advertisers.
T
his study
researches viral video advertising.
The subjects of the study are t
wo successful
companies, Orabrush and Blen
dtec. They have both seen great success through the use of
viral video. But they started at a time when there wasn’t much competition on YouTube
for businesses. They
say there are

many benefits to using viral video:
it costs less, i
t’
s
easier to measure
, and
it’s
easier to engage consumers in a conversation than traditional
advertising methods. They also give a lot of advice on how to get people to view your
videos, as well as how to get viewers to share it through social media. But the tools and
metho
ds they used when they first launched their videos may not work as well today.

Getting a video

to go viral
, especially a video
advertisement

is compared to
winning the lottery.

G
etting a video to go viral isn’t as easy, or even as
valuable
, as

some
businesses think
.

I
t is less expensive and easier to measure. But

it still takes a lot of work

and there’s a lot of luck involved
. E
ven if a video goes viral it’s not a sustainable form of
advertising. Orabrush and Blendtec agree that the best way
to use video advertising is to
build a strong subscriber base and create content specifically for your target audience.



THE VALIDITY OF VIRAL: DOES VIDEO ADVERTISING REALLY HELP A BUSINESS?


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A lot of companies are turning to the legendary powers of “viral video” to
advertise their products. Two companies, Blendtec and O
rabrush
,

have mastered online
digital video campaigns
. This thesis explains how these two companies succeeded in
creating viral videos. They offer advice on how companies can effectively use video
advertising to promote their products.

Literature Revie
w

Beginning of
Viral Advertising


Commonly, advertisers have always heavily relied on the power of word of mouth
(WOM) to promote their products.
P
eople are more likely to trust recommendations from
a friend talking

about

a product than a spokesperson or actor

from the company

(Toros &
Kalpaklioglu, 2011, p. 4126)
.


With emerging technologies, marketers found

that
online
i
s

a great

place to spark
conver
sations about their products, w
hich led to electronic word of mouth
(eWOM)
,
a
phenomenon that

has exploded over the last decade
.
Internet
-
based advertising is
continually growing while the traditional advertising media, such as TV, radio,
magazines, and newspapers,
are

losing ground to the Web.

Technology and other factor
s
have signif
icantly evolved and positively e
ffect the way consumers use communications,
favoring rapid and efficient informa
tion exchange and interactivity
” (Petrecu,et al
.
, 2011,
p. 209
).

The aim of viral advertising is

to make t
he target a
udience read,
watch,
and
see
the messages and to position the brand in their mind
s.

Need for Change

T
he media landscape is changing;
advertising
has
to change as well.
New
technologies, expensive TV advertising, and
changing
demographics have made it

THE VALIDITY OF VIRAL: DOES VIDEO ADVERTISING REALLY HELP A BUSINESS?


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necessary for
companies to change their advertising strategy from WOM to viral
advertising. Digital Video Recorders (DVRs) make it easy for viewers to skip regular
television commercials. Netflix, Hulu, Roku, Apple TV and other video streaming
devices and services mean

people don’t even have to watch the
ir favorite television
shows on regular network

television.


In 2006, the Association of National Advertisers conducted a survey and found
that because of DVRs, 60% of advertisers planned to decrease their television ad
vertising
budgets.
A survey found that 70%
of people

believe that DVRs and video on demand
would reduce or destroy the effect
iveness of the regular 30
-
second

TV spot. (Greene
2007). Jupiter Media
said,


I
n response, advertisers and television programmers
must
devise new strategies for combating the potentially di
sastrous effects of ad skipping

(Bronneneberg, Dub
é, & Mela, 2010, 998)
.

Internet Advertising

Technological ad
vancements

make
the Internet
more and more appealing

to
advertisers. S
martphones

give people

access to the Internet wherever they are. That
means people will spend more and more time online. Americans spend an average of
about six hours
a day
watching video; four of those hours are on TV. T
he remaining two
hours are spent

on video g
ames, Web video, DVDs and video on mobile devices.
Researches project this will grow to eight hours a day by 2013. The gro
wth will come
from online video
(Stelter, June 25
2008).

In
2007 Americans watched 7.5 billion streams
and 16.4 billion minutes in tot
al of online video
. C
hildren spend almost one
-
third of the
ir
online time watching videos
(Michael, Cornell & Nizan, 2010).

THE VALIDITY OF VIRAL: DOES VIDEO ADVERTISING REALLY HELP A BUSINESS?


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The

online

video
platform
gives

advertisers

a lot more tools

to work with.
O
nline
videos
also
seem to be more authentic than regular TV. Tolson (2010) wrote that regular
TV broadcasts
would

never seem like ordinary conversation because i
t’s heavily
institutionalized.

It doesn’t occur naturally because it’s governed by protocols and
regulations.
The audience is also overhearing the message, rather than

being

actively
engaged
as if they were

watching it online.

If any c
ompany has a web
-
based presence,

then the web is the place to do advertising
because that’s where their customers are. “
The most in
fluential consumers on the web
today are 24 to 44 year olds who embrace the
Internet
, not just
as a tool, but as a way of
life
” (Reigner, 2007, 447)
.

Television Advertising

Consumers are also paying less attention to television advertisements. Co
nsumers
are
exposed to far more information than they can process. On average, adults are exposed to
about 3,500 pieces of advertising information every single day (Stelter, July 25 2008).
That makes it almost necessary for people to
become

good at ignoring advert
isements
.

It’s also getting harder to reach
the target audience

through traditional advertising.
This makes online video advertising even more essential.
In 1960, Proctor & Gamble
reached 80% of women in the United States with just one 30
-
second Tide com
mercial on
the NBC, ABC and CBS networks. To get that same exposure today, P&G would have
to run

the

sa
me ad on 100 different channels

(Keller, 2009)
.

A 2009 study revealed that
the number of television advertisements needed to reach 80% of females betwee
n

ages

18
and 49 increased from three commercials in 1995 to 97 commercials in 2000 (Boyle,
2003).

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Benefits

of Viral Advertising

Customers have access to massive amounts of information about brands, products
and companies. Advertisers need ways to reach
large

amounts of people, without
spending
excessive
amounts of money. Online videos are one of the cheapest routes to
go
. That’s
especially useful for smaller companies who can’t afford expensive
commercials. “
Online

video is acting as an equalizer by giv
ing small consumer and B
-
to
-
B brands the power of video once conferred on

only big
-
budget TV advertisers”

(Neff,
2007, p. 1)
.


Keller

(2009) lists some of the benefits of viral advertising as:



Improved

perceptions of product performance



Greater

customer l
oyalty



Less

vulnerability to competitive marketing actions and marketing crises



Larger

margins



More

elastic customer response to price decreases and inelastic customer response

to price increases



Greater

trade or intermediary cooperation and support



Increased

marketing communication effectiveness



Additional

licensing and brand extension opportunities (p. 140)


Yang, Yao, Ma & Chen (2010) provided some more benefits
:



Information can be stored easily and exists for long periods of time online



People can

even ingest word
-
of
-
mouth marketing in their spare time



There’s a strong sense of anonymity that makes it easier to communicate online
than face
-
to
-
face

THE VALIDITY OF VIRAL: DOES VIDEO ADVERTISING REALLY HELP A BUSINESS?


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Ads can spread faster and to a wider audience at a significantly lower cost
compared to traditional me
thods

Does Viral Advertising
Increase Revenue?

“For decades, marketers have trumpeted the importance of WOM in influencing purchase
choice, but have still spent billions on brand advertising

without any pr
oof of the link
between the two
” (Graham, 2007, p.

427).
Graham and Havlena conducted a study that
found
online
advertising plays an important role on
consumer’s purchase decisions. They
found that a
dvertising does stimulate increased visitation to the websites of advertised
brands

an indicator of
consumer intere
st and involvement with a brand

(
p.
431)
.


Consumer Involvement


Viral marketing seeks to create a message that
consumers will spread
, rather than
the marketers
spreading the message themselves. “It’s based on
making

consumers a part
of th
e campaign and aims to turn them into brand/organization/company agent
s”
(Toros
& Kalpaklioglu, 2011, p. 4127). By using the “
share
” button to share pieces of media
with their friends,
consumers

become volunteer marketers (Jones, 2007).

Users

have an influential role in online viral advertising. Customers become part
of the creative process. By spreading messages, they become “active participants”
instead of “passive recipients”. “The customer is always at the heart of the social
marketing pr
ocess” (Thackeray, Neiger, Hanson & McKenzie, 2008, p. 340)
.




Messages will be shared about products whether from the company or not.

It’s up
to advertisers to get

positive messages out.
“Everyday consumers are wielding greater
control over their media
habits and their role in the commercial marketplace. Moreover,

THE VALIDITY OF VIRAL: DOES VIDEO ADVERTISING REALLY HELP A BUSINESS?


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with the growth of online participation, consumers exert greater influence over the
products and
brands considered for purchase”

(Reigner, 2007, 436)
.



Viral marketing works

because i
t puts the consumer in control.
If consumers do not
like the ad, it not only affects the attitude toward the ad or brand, but also their intention
to transmit the message. The consumer needs to like the ad enough not only for him o
r
her to buy the product,

but

also

to

pass the message forward

(Petrescu and Korgaonkar,
2011, p. 220)
.


Consumers can choose to spread the message or not. They have the capability to
write their own reviews about products.
Brand managers have to
define

what their brand
is about,

because if they don't, millions of consumers in digital social media will

possibly
in way
s the brand managers don't like
(Neff, 2008, p. 4)
.

eWOM

Similarly, Keller (2007) conducted quantifiable research on the importance
of
eWOM and consumer involvement. He said eWOM works because the consumer has the
power.
H
e found that “media and marketing communications have a significant role to
play in influencing conversations, with significant differences evident from category to
cate
gory, and even from brand to brand” (p. 5).

Companies have successfully utilized eWOM and online advertising to promote
their products and services. eWOM is helpful because it makes it more likely that your
product will appear in search inquiries, message

boards,
blogs, SNSs, as well as
increasing visits to websites and creating

brand awareness. It has transformed

into a type
of viral marketing
(Datta et al.
,

2005)
.


THE VALIDITY OF VIRAL: DOES VIDEO ADVERTISING REALLY HELP A BUSINESS?


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Viral Defined


Golan and Zaidner (2008) defined viral advertising as content designed to
influence an audience to pass along the content to others (p. 963).

The idea behind viral
marketing is to send out a piece of content to a few early adopters, and through the power
of the internet they’ll send it to their friends, who send it to their frie
nds, and so on until it
exponentially grows. Jurvetson (2000) said
,

“The ideal viral product is used to
communicate with many people, converts a high percentage of them to new users, and
retains a high percentage of those new users. It also is used quite f
requently” (p. 111)
.


Viral

describes a message that is spread quickly and beyond the control of the
creators. “The analogy of a virus is used to describe the exponential diffusion of
information in an electronic environment

(Alexander, 2006, p. 12).
Shukl
a (2010)
explained that viral marketing is the defining trend, despite th
e fact that it’s
uncontrollable. “
As compared to conventional media, it requires less cash and can build a
customer
-
base with little or no capital outlay


(Shukla, 2010, p. 27).

YouTube: making viral easy

YouTube has made it even easier for advertisers to take their messages viral.
Millions of people use it everyday for entertai
nment and informative videos.
Companies
quickly realized that it wasn’t just for consumers
, but

had a
great use for marke
ters.
YouTube’s low costs, ease

in sharing across platforms and SNSs, popularity, a
nd high
entertainment value, make it a great resource.
Advertisers grasped onto the idea of using
it as a
video
platform to showcase products and a

new

s
ource for advertising revenue.

T
hree former PayPal employees

created YouTube
:
Chad Hur
ley, Steve Chen and
Jawed Karim
. They activated the YouTube.com domain in February 2005,

and

uploaded
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th
e first video onto the site
on April 23, 2005. Within a matter
of months, YouTube had
become one of the fastest
-
growing websites in the world. By the summer of 2006 (just
six months after launch of the site) 60
-
100 million clips were

being viewed daily on
YouTube

and

65,000 video being uploaded onto the site every 24

hours. (Kim, 2012)


Because it’s free

and accessible to anyone
it has become very popular
.
For
businesses, it
is

very simple and

has

low management costs. YouTube’s cost to benefit
ratio is the main reason the advertisin
g industry has taken hold of it

(
Yu & Sung, 2010)
.

Not only that, but the videos
can

easily

be

shared among different platforms like blogs,
SNS, email and online articles. It’s so much easier to view and share unfiltered content
compared to traditional media. Even though a lot of conten
t posted on YouTube does
come from other media, like TV, users enjoy it more when they watch it on YouTube
(Pry, 2009).

According to Fulgoni (2007), people who use YouTube are more receptive to
advertising messages than non
-
users. They also believe that
advertising for a product on
YouTube is just as trustworthy as other traditional advertising media. He even reported
that consumers trust the advertising from user
-
generated cont
ent (UCG) websites like
YouTube

more tha
n radio and outdoor advertising

(p. 7
).

Supporting Other Marketing Efforts

YouTube is
used

best

when in conjunct
ion with other mediums. Keller

(2009)

suggests that marketers
evaluate all the different communication possibilities. All the
mediums should work together towards the same goal of

the company, whether to build
awareness or drive sales.

THE VALIDITY OF VIRAL: DOES VIDEO ADVERTISING REALLY HELP A BUSINESS?


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On
-
line ads and videos permit h
ighly targeted, timely messages that can

extend
the creative or legal restrictions of traditional print and broadcast media to
persuasively communicate brand positionin
g and elicit positive judgments and
feelings. Attention
-
getting on
-
line ads and videos can drive consumers to a
brand’s website where they can learn and
experience more about the brand

(p.
146
-
147)
.


YouTube, out
-
of
-
home
advertising,

and traditional broadc
ast advertising
must
work together to promote the product. This media convergence is best done when
YouTube is us
ed as a stepping
-
stone to other mainstream media (Kim, 2012)
.



YouTube managers also saw the potential revenue from advertisers. With Google
Inc.’s acquisition of YouTube in October 2006 for $1.65 billion, YouTube became even
more ad
-
friendly. YouTube introduced several tools
to

help advertisers

such as

V
ideo
Identification (Video ID),
a software to
help
copyright holders more easily find and
i
de
ntify copyright infringements and

ContentID
,

which

catches copyrighted music in
videos

(YouTube, 2010
)
.

In March 2009, YouTube also started making money by
selling banner
advertisements, featured videos and promoted v
ideos. This shows a slow shift in
the
evolution of YouTube “from an amateur
-
driven medium to a professional
-

dominated
channel coexists with the market expansion o
f the TV industry into the web”

(p. 61)
.

This
commercialization just intensifies YouTube’s identi
ty as a very ad
-
friendly mediu
m

(Andrejevic, 2009)
.


How to Make

Video

Viral

Dr. Ralph Wilson (2012) introduced six factors
that influence viral marketing:

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Offering valuable products and services




Providing

eff
icient means

for communications



Utilizing

larger
-
scale spreading of in
formation



Making

efficient use of public positivisms and behaviors, establishing
communication networks, and sharing resources of the others.

In order for a viral marketing campaign to be successful, it needs to encourage
indi
vidual consumers to forward the message to others. The Internet makes it
easy

to do
this. One person has the potential to easily share a message with hundreds, if not
thousands of new subjects. “
The Internet allows significantly more interaction, targete
d
communication, increased reach, and better evaluation of the results, all at a low cost”

(Petrescu and Korgaonkar, 2011, p. 217)
.


Golan and Zaidner (2008) conducted one of the first empirical studies on viral
advertising. They defined viral advertising
as “unpaid peer
-
to
-
peer communication of
provocative content originating from an identified sponsor using the Internet to persuade
or influence an audience to pass along the content to others” (p. 963).
They

analyzed 360
viral advertisements to try and und
erstand the creative advertising appeals and strategies
used in viral ads. They found that humor and s
exuality were the main appeals
(p. 963).

This agrees with
Petrescu and Korgaonkar

who found that
most viral ads have
distinct characteristics when
compared to traditional advertising, such as a catchy
message, controversy, entertainment, and higher engagement levels, usually a
ssociated
with humorous appeals

(2011, p. 220).

Viral advertising is great for small business and low budget campaigns. The be
st
viral ads are not always the highest production quality.
One of the best examples
is
when
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Doritos sponsored a contest where consumers could create their own 30
-
second spot for
Doritos. Viewers voted on their favorite one and the winning commercial aire
d during
the 2007 Super Bowl (XLI). A college student from a small town in Utah wo
n the
contest

(Thackeray et. Al, 2008, p. 340)
.

Ads have the highest impact on consumers when “they are focused on
entertaining and engaging the customer, rather than presen
ting a call to action.


Viral
advertising focuses on generating product or brand awareness, not on transmitting
traditional advertising messages or a list of information about the product

(
Petrescu and
Korgaonkar, 2011, p. 222)
.

Viral advertisements do wel
l because they don’t appear to be
selling anything. They aren’t pushy and they’re unobtrusive. Con
sumers
become

voluntary viewers

because they

often choose to view the
YouTube
v
ideo advertisements
.


World
-
renowned companies, such as Nike or Budweiser,
have successfully used
viral advertising in social media, YouTube, Facebook, and blogs “consumers value the
non
-
commercial, non
-
imposed, personal sources of advertising information and peer
-
to
-
peer communication

much better than the paid ads”
(Petrescu and

Korgaonkar, 2011, p.
209)
.

Kevin All
occa, YouTube's trends manager said a
video

goes viral because of

tastemakers, communities of participation, and unexpectedness.
First,

you have to have
a
key influencer (tastemaker)
share

the video with a

large commun
ity of followers
, who

then share
s

it with their social media community until it creates a viral effect. People
become a part of the phenomenon by spreading it. He said the most popular videos also
have a high degree of unexpectedness.
V
ideos have to be tr
uly unique and unexpected to
stand out (Ted Talks.com
,

Filmed Nov 2011,

posted February

2012)
.

THE VALIDITY OF VIRAL: DOES VIDEO ADVERTISING REALLY HELP A BUSINESS?


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Viral Video

ROI


Because viral videos are more inclined to be entertaining then selling, the debate is
whether or not these online videos actually bring in revenue, or just promote awareness
and branding. O’Leary (2010) cites the example of Microsoft’s Project Natal, code
name
for a new Xbox 360 user interface technology. Microsoft released a video about it before
the product was released. Xbox.com had more than 825,000 visitors in one week.
Project Natal also became the No. 1 search term on Google and trending topic on
Twitter.
(p. 2) That’s just one example of how
YouTube made the rendition of viral marketing
with videos even easier.

Success Stories


Many companies, like
Microsoft, Philips, Sony, Ford, BMW, and Procter &
Gamble have
seen success from viral advertising o
n YouTube
(Van der Lans et al
.
,
2010)
. Advertising Age listed the Top Ten Viral Campaigns in 2011 as:



Volkswagen, “The Force”




T
-
Mobile, “Royal Wedding”




Apple, “Introducing iPhone”




Dirt Devil, “You Know When It’s
the Devil”




Old Spice “New Old Spice Guy
Fabio”



Old Spice,
“Old Spice Man is Back”




Fiat, “Life is Best When Driven”



Chrysler “Imported From Detroit”




Google, “The Web is What You
Make of It”




Adidas, “All In”
Old Spice


One of the most successful viral video advertising stories is the Case of Old
Spice.
In the early 2000s Old Spice sales were declining, especially when it came to younger
THE VALIDITY OF VIRAL: DOES VIDEO ADVERTISING REALLY HELP A BUSINESS?


15

demographics. At the same time the market for male grooming products like body sprays
and body washes were growing. P&G’s market research saw this as a huge growt
h
opportunity. Marketers knew they would have to reimage the brand known as “old” and
“meant for grandfathers”, to one meant for a younger

generation. Their goal was to

change the brand image with men aged 18
-
35. But they knew that their target audience

had to include women who had a big influence in men’s purchasing of grooming products
(Mills 2012).


Proctor & Gamble started brand repositioning with ‘The Man Your Man Could
Smell Like’ campaign.
The approach of ‘The Man Your Man Could Smell Like’
cam
paign was to embrace the brand's heritage while updating the messaging and imagery
with more ‘swagger’ and timely humor (Mills, 2012, p. 164). They wanted someone men
and women would both like. Funny guy Isaiah Mustafa, actor and former NFL receiver,
bec
ame the face of the new Old Spice campaign. “He was a ‘ladies' man’ who was ‘OK’
for men to love as well” (p. 165). The first commercial aired during Super Bowl in
February 2010
then

was put
on YouTube. It got 16 million views on YouTube in the first
5 months. Market share losses were completely reversed. Sales of body wash increased
107% by July 2010 (p. 165).


The Proctor & Gamble Co. brand has continued to gain market share.

As of July 1
8
[2010], Old Spice, with 94 million views, had become the No. 1 all
-
time most
-
viewed
sponsored channel on YouTube, Mr. Norton said. Old Spice had eight of the top 11 most
-
popular videos on YouTube on July 16. In the six days following the start of Mr.
Mus
tafa's personalized videos, he reached more than 100 million followers.

Old Spice
got
more than 80,000 Twitter followers (finally ahead of Mr. Mustafa's own follower
THE VALIDITY OF VIRAL: DOES VIDEO ADVERTISING REALLY HELP A BUSINESS?


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base of 30,000) and its Facebook fan base to 630,000. Facebook fan interaction jumped
800%

since the launch of the personalized videos (Neff, 2010b, p. 2).

Not only tha
t, but it increased the company’
s web presence. “Google Trends data
show the ad has generated more search on the phrase "Old Spice" than anything the brand
has done since 2004. U
nilever picked up 5 share points i
n the four weeks ended Feb. 21
(Neff, 2010a).

There are many other online viral advertising success stories. Ad agency Crispin
Porter + Bogusky, launched a video online advertising Burger King’s TenderCrisp
chicken sandwich called ‘Subservient Chicken’. The video was released solely online. It
got h
undreds of millions of views, which means it got a far better reach than a regular
television advertisement, for a lot less money
(Wasserman, 2009).


In order to promote its new Bluetooth headsets, Cardo Systems released three
low
-
tech videos of people try
ing to use power from their cell phones to pop popcorn.
The videos went viral. Cardo Systems says that in less then one month, the ads had been
viewed

more than 10.2 million times.
A Cardo rep said their Web site traffic doub
le in
response to the campaign

(
A Viral Campaign with Pop, 2008)
.


Unilever is a great mode
l for successful viral videos.
In

October 2006, Unilever
launch
a viral video, ‘Dove Evolution’ for its Real Beauty campaign. The 75
-
second film
shows a time lapse of all the
hair, makeup and to
uchups on Photoshop

that are done to a
model

for
before the photograph of her is put on a billboard. Within ten days, the video
had more than 2.3 million views. Dove’s website also got three times the traffic after the
video than
after its Super Bowl
commercial

(Van der Lans et al., 2010, p. 348).
The video
has more than 400 million

views

from

TV news, talk shows,
and other forums
.
The key
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17

to getting the most out of a company’s online efforts is getting other websites and media
to pick up your video

(N
eff, 2008, p. 3).

Problems with Viral Advertising


But YouTube doesn’t always mean success. “For every big success
-
such as
Unilev
er's Dove ‘Evolution’
or Nike's Ronaldinho videos
-
there are thousands of
wannabes lodged deep in the long tails of viewership
lists.
” (Neff, 2007, p. 2).
Cutler
(2009) says t
here is a big
difference between creating a video campaign with the hopes of
going viral, and actually getting the target audience to embrace it and share it.

Cutler

(2009)

says one million is the magic num
ber signaling a campaign that the
target audience embraces
.
Cutler also sa
id

that the videos should get
of
most the views in
the initial growth phase to be successful.

We've discovered viral video ad campaigns
tend to hit the ground running
--
they average
35 % of their total viewership during their
first week. This initial growth phase is likely to set the campaign's overall trajectory


(p.
42).
W
e’ll define viral videos as ones that received more than a million
views

in one
week and videos that were shared

through social media.

“Hit’s don’t always lead to revenue," said Jonah Peretti, founder of BuzzFeed, the
much
-
talked
-
bout purveyor of memes and, now, technology, politics and culture news.
"It's a paradox of online publishing that the moments that generat
e the most excitement
and traffic usually yield the lowest ad rates or go unsold" (Creamer, 2012, p. 4).

Advertisements have to be sponsored as a featured or promoted video to get
noticed. “
As YouTube

moves to monetize its traffic through paid advertising

and
consumer
-
advocacy groups start to circle the wagons, the days of the viral
-
video universe
as marketers' playground could soon be over” (Atkinson, 2006, p. 1).


THE VALIDITY OF VIRAL: DOES VIDEO ADVERTISING REALLY HELP A BUSINESS?


18

There’s also a concern about stealth marketing.

Gary Ruskin, executive director
of Commerc
ial Alert,
thinks viral videos
blur ethical lines because viewers often don’t
know they’re being marketed to. “Viral videos are akin to social networks, which can be
deceptive because users don't kno
w with whom they're interacting” (Atkinson, 2006, p.1).

Stealth Marketing

Unlike television advertisements,
the Federal Communication Commission in
America does not regulate viral advertising
. That
allows the content to be free of
constraints and restrictions (Porter and Golan, 2006, p. 12). On December 11, 200
6, the
Federal Trade Commission issued a statement that the relationship between sponsors and
people paid to promote products to

their peers must be disclosed
(Annys, 2007).



“Viral stealth marketing seeks to disguise the relationship between the
individu
al(s) conveying the message and the organization endorsing it. Thus, a more
subtle form of communication ensues which reaches consumers on a more personal level
to influence their buying behaviour” (
Swanepoel, Lye, Rugimbana, 2009, p.
9).


Consumers seem m
ore tolerant towards advertisements containing entertaining
content that stretches the truth. Brands like Nike, Gatorade and Levi’s have been
successful in creating videos that imitate YouTube’s amateur feel. “
The advantages of
this approach: unbranded vi
deos typically fare better than run
-
of
-
the
-
mill TV

commercials. The back
-
and
-
forth over authenticity fuels interest, particularly among
media
-
savvy young consu
mers”
(Morrissey, 2008, p. 1).

Stealth marketing is non
-
transparent. And CSG multi
-
media websit
es like
YouTube and SNS like Facebook make it so easy for stealth marketers to benefit on its
appeared impartiality. Tobacco companies have been known to take advantage of viral
THE VALIDITY OF VIRAL: DOES VIDEO ADVERTISING REALLY HELP A BUSINESS?


19

stealth marketing (VSM) by promoting tobacco products without disclosing the
company
(
Swanepoel, Lye, Rugimbana, 2009, p.
13)
.

“The nature of VSM seeks to present the
marketing message as spontaneous and unsolicited, whilst disguising the true
promotio
nal source behind the campaign”
(
p.
14).

Getting Your Video
to Go
Viral


Despite
all the downsides of viral, h
ow do you get your video to

go viral?

By
analyzing successful campaigns, Mills (2012) found four drivers of success: “the
spreadability of content based on personal factors, the propagativity of content based on
media type, th
e integration of multiple media platforms and the successive reinforcement
of messaging” (p. 166).



The ads have to resonate with the target audience. “A viral marketing campaign
has a greater chance of success if the market
er is able to develop marketin
g
communication strategies that resonate with the target group


in other words, appeals to
the key motivations for sharing information” (Ho & Dempsey, 2010, p. 1005).
The

ad
n
eeds to grab viewer’s attention.
Advertisers also need to use every social
media platform
available and use paid media strategically to get proof of audience.

Not only does the target consumer have to see and view the ad, they have to have
a reason to want to send it to someone else. Advertise
rs need to post videos in a few key
p
laces and let social networking do the rest. Van Noorta, Antheunisb,
& Van
Reijmersdal, (2012) said that, “M
essages are perceived as more relevant if received from
strong ties…the results imply that viral SNS campaign should be targeted at a limited
number

of influential users and the campaign should be designed in such a way that

THE VALIDITY OF VIRAL: DOES VIDEO ADVERTISING REALLY HELP A BUSINESS?


20

receivers of a campaign will only forward the campaign to
a few strong ties in their
SNSs

(p. 50).

As the message circulates from person to person, its distribution potential
inc
reases exponentially within the social networks

(Tuten 2008).
“Videos are only
described as viral when they are able to be spread from user to user through the sending
of links or their embedding on other pages. Furthermore, the video sharing sites that
facilitate this type of transmission also frequently allow for commentary” (Gurney, 2009,
p. 10).

Thurman and Lupton (2008)
also
found
that the

preferred format for online video
is 40 seconds,
has
light content, and
is
shareable.


How do these companies u
se viral videos to reach a target audience? When do
they receive most of their growth?

Do these companies use the

drivers
Mills (2012)
mentioned
to ensure a successful viral video campaign launch?

D
oes viral marketing only
increase awareness or does it actually increase revenue?
Is

marketing most successful in
building brand awareness rather than specifically driving sales of a product
?

(p. 169).

Research Questions


For my thesis I want to investigat
e not only how
viral advertising is done, but also
if

it’s beneficial or not. I seek to find answers to
four
research questions.



How do small companies use online viral marketing to promote their products?



What are the benefits of viral advertising?



Do
viral video advertisements increase revenue or just brand awareness?




How do companies get target consumers to watch
and share
their videos?

By interviewing
representative
s

from
Blendtec and Orabrush
, two companies that are
known as pioneers of viral video marketing,
I hope to test validity of
c
laim
s

in my
literature review such as why marketers are moving from traditional to online advertising,
THE VALIDITY OF VIRAL: DOES VIDEO ADVERTISING REALLY HELP A BUSINESS?


21

the benefits of viral advertising,
suggestions on
how to

make a video
go
viral, and does
viral video
increase revenue and heighten brand awareness.

Methodology


I plan to answer these questions
by conducting case studies on
these
two
companies
.

Both have successful YouTube channels and they use videos to promot
e
products.

By interviewing two
experts in YouTube advertising and viral marketing
, I
hope to learn
how the
se viral video pioneers
utilize YouTube and social media to
create
brand awareness,
promote products and reach their target audience. I plan to answe
r my
research questions by st
udying the interviews
to learn

how they had such successful
campaigns. The interviews will be recorded with an audio recording device. They will
then be transcribed so they’re easy to study and apply to
literature review

and research
questions.

Transcriptions won’t be included in the report for privacy concerns.

Case Description:

Blendtec’s
Will it Blend?

videos


I interviewed Nate Hirst, the marketing manager at Blendtec. He is in charge of
the digital marketing and
advertising for the company. Blendtec is one of the

first

revolutionary companies in viral video, and blenders. In 1987 the founder and CEO, Tom
Dickson
,

created the first “Blendtec” as a multi
-
functional kitchen machine

for
commercial use
.
S
oon the
public caught on to the blender that could make anything from
soups to smoothies to sauces and he started selling it to regular consumers.



But what really caught the attention of the world was the web video series called
Will it Blend
? In the series, Di
ckson blends all different things to show how good the
blenders are. He’s blended an iPhone, marbles, rake handles, lighters, golf balls, Nike
THE VALIDITY OF VIRAL: DOES VIDEO ADVERTISING REALLY HELP A BUSINESS?


22

shoes and a list of more than one hundred other items. The videos went viral and became
an international phenom
enon.


As of February 8, 2013, Blendtec’s YouTube channel has 529,002 subscribers.
Hirst said there has never been a viral campaign that has lasted as long as Blendtec’s.
According to Blendtec’s website, it has been called

one of the most creative marke
ting
campaigns of our time. The videos showcase the strength and durability of the entry level
13AMP home blender and suggest that if it will blend marbles and rake handles, it will
certainly handle the everyday food items it was meant for.” (Blendtec.com)

The series
has won a
long

list of awards for its viral marketing efforts (Blendtec’s
Will it Blend?

Facebook page):



2008 CLIO Award, Bronze,
Interactive, Viral



.net Award
-

Best Viral Video.




International Academy of the
Visual Arts, Communi
cator Award
-

Viral




Salt Lake Magazine, Best Viral
Marketer, 2008




Always O
n, Best of Broadband
Award 2007



You Tube Awards, Fifth Place,
Best Series 2007




Communicator Award, Gold,
Award of Excellence for Best Viral
Video




9
th

in Social Brands 100 Repo
rt
(2011)




Communicator Award, Gold,
Award of Excellence for Best Viral
Marketing Video




#1 Viral Ad of All Time
-

Ad Age


The

infamous viral videos are actually a fluke. In 2006,
George Wright,
the marketing
director at the time, went
into the demo room and saw wood chips everywhere. That’s
when he discovered that Dickson tested the durability of the blenders by blending wood
and other things. He had been testing them that way since he invented the product.
Wright had an idea to star
t an internal campaign

for employees

to see how good the
THE VALIDITY OF VIRAL: DOES VIDEO ADVERTISING REALLY HELP A BUSINESS?


23

blenders are.

Hirst said “
if your own employees don’t know how good your product is,
how are they going to tell the world about it?”

H
e grabbed a
camera

a
nd

$50 worth of
things to blend and made a vi
deo

about it. He put the video

YouTube because it was a
free
,

easy way to host a video.

Employees loved the video and started sharing it with others. More people discovered
it, and one week later the video had gone viral with about 5 million views.

“Now i
t seems
commonplace, but at the time nobody was doing crazy stuff like that and so I think just
the type of content that it was made it so that employees started sharing it with their
family members and it’s something that you wanted to sh
are with everybod
y,


said Hirst.


Hirst said they were a very small brand before that so these videos put them on
the map. At the time, no one was getting more views than Blendtec so a lot of people
started talking about them online and offline. They got a lot of press f
rom the videos as
well. They were on the Tonight Show, the Today Show, The History Channel and the
Discovery Channel. Even other larger companies wanted to use Blendtec’s established
brand for their marketing purposes.
Large
, well
-
established companies
like Nike, Ford
and Doritos asked Blendtec to make a video for them.


Blendtec was one of the pioneers in viral video. YouTube itself was

just starting
up a little bit earlier

in 2006. No one had yet witnessed the power that online video had
for a compan
y. Blendtec just used YouTube because it was free.

As of October 18, 2012, Blendtec’s YouTube channel has more than 440,000
subscribers and more than 202 million views. It’s YouTube video “Will it Blend?

ipad”
has more than 14 million views.

“I think it

has to do with, that

it

was
a
groundbreaking,
revolutionary product at the time. We got the one thing that everyone in the world wanted
THE VALIDITY OF VIRAL: DOES VIDEO ADVERTISING REALLY HELP A BUSINESS?


24

and destroyed it in front of their faces,” said Hirst.
H
e

gave

two main reasons for the
success. First
,

because
they c
reated

good content that people wanted to share, and second
they just happened to be one of the first compan
ies to do something like that.


Benefits of
a
Viral Video
Campaign


When it comes to advertising and marketing, digital is the only way to go fo
r
Blendtec. The company has never done
traditional
television, radio, or outdoor
advertising. The main reason they chose digital is because it was easier
to measure, easier
to reach the
target audience, and cost effective.
Using the correct tools is essential and
Blendtec has found the right tools in digital marketing.


Hirst

compared
a
digital

ad

to a print ad. He said when you buy print ad space
from a magazine or newspaper, they will tell you how many people read their
product
and the demographics of readers.
But that’s about all you know.
You have no idea how
many people actually saw the ad. Whereas with digital, Hirst said he knows exactly how
many people saw the online advertisement and what percent clicked on the li
nk in the ad
to the we
bsite and the percentage of

who bought a blender. He said it’s much easier to
track the return on investment.


But Blendtec spent a lot of work on the backend building a large fan base to start
out with. Blendtec has two Facebook pa
ges, one for
Will it Blend?

and another for the
Blendtec blender, which is mainly recipes. Hirst said they ha
ve to hire more people
because digital advertising

is more time consuming than creating a TV spot. With TV it’s
just about creating an ad then spen
ding a lot of money to promote it. But Hirst said with
his small team they would spend far less than somebody that’s trying to do a TV or more
THE VALIDITY OF VIRAL: DOES VIDEO ADVERTISING REALLY HELP A BUSINESS?


25

traditional campaig
n. Social media and YouTube have

made it easier to reach more
people.


Hirst also said, the

real benefit of digital advertising over traditional means is the
reach you can achieve with it. He gave the example of the free pink blender they gave
away to one lucky Facebook follower in 2012. Hirst said the fans went crazy for it and
the contest rece
ived a lot of awareness. He said “to just give away a pink blender and
reach a million people is amazing. I don’t know how many people we could reach with a
TV ad. But I’m guessing it costs more than just making a pink blender.”

How to Make Videos Viral


YouTube is still a great, easy tool for companies, regardless of the proliferation of
content. Hirst said “YouTube is by far the most popular video platform and they make it
really easy to share and the way they allow people to subscribe to your channel i
s really
nice. Because every time we post a video every one of our subscribers gets emailed about
it.”

For its YouTube videos, Blendtec uses tools
available on
YouTube
like
annotations where you can insert links and comments right in your videos. Blendtec

can
also put links into the description before the video is

even

made public. Once it goes
public, YouTube automatically spreads it to all of Blendtec’s subscribers. With digital,
once you have that network built up, Hirst said you can drive
a large netw
ork of people
wherever you want them to go online.

A big secret Hirst gave is
to treat

YouTube as more of a search engine than a
video platform. He
said

that Google, Yahoo and Bing are the top three search engines.
T
hey track clips from links on their videos and on their YouTube channel page to their
THE VALIDITY OF VIRAL: DOES VIDEO ADVERTISING REALLY HELP A BUSINESS?


26

website and they “get a
significant

source of traffic” from those. Google also allows you
to do some targeting based on interests. Blendtec targets based on health and
fitness and
if they’ve come to
their

website or not.

Orabrush
also
said they view YouTube a
s

a social media platform and o
nline
community; i
t has the same interactions
as content on
Facebook. You can comment

on
videos

and “
like


or

dislike
” them.
You can

favorite
video
s

and

add them to playlists
.
All of this

will show up
in
the feeds of
people you’re

connected to

and
they’ll see what
videos you liked, what videos you commented on.

Reaching
Target
Demographics



There’s a reason Blendtec has two video campaigns, one for recipes and one for
Will it Blend
? videos. Hirst said a

click from a recipe video is worth about 5 times more
than a
Will it Blend
?

The reason is because the r
ecipe videos are aimed more at our
ta
rget audience than the
Will it Blend?
videos
,

e
ven though they continually get

significantly

mo
re viewers.”
T
he main problem is that the demographics of YouTube
viewers aren’t the same

as Blendtec’s target audience.
Most of the viewers of

YouTube
videos ar
e
younger males.


The

content from the recipes meets the needs of the core demographic directly
,
which is adult females
. Hirst’s advice to other companies is to “figure out what appeals
to your demographic and create content around them and your likelihood of success will
be far greater than if you were trying to create a viral video campaign.”

Getting Demographic to Sh
are Content

Hirst attributes a lot of Blendtec’s success to creating content that appeals to their
targeted demographic.
“T
he secret is good content is something somebody would want to
THE VALIDITY OF VIRAL: DOES VIDEO ADVERTISING REALLY HELP A BUSINESS?


27

share on their own. You shouldn’t have to persuade or reward someone for sharing your
content. If it’s good enough it will just automatically get shared.
O
ur goal is to just figure
out what peop
le like to share on Facebook or Pinterest and do our version of it and make
it better.”

Dickson
on the
Will it Blend?

videos never says “check out our video on
Blendtec.com.” At the end, it

just reads on the screen

“visit us at Blendtec.com.” Hirst
said
,


it’s not about pushing the product
. I
t’s more about making something that people
want to consume.


Blendtec creates
r
ecipe videos because
many
people love recipes. He
said, “
It’s an easy way for us to show the power of the blender and what it can do withou
t
being really in your face.”

Another secret to getting people to share
videos
is to create content that’s tied to a
current event or new product. Hirst
explained that they could easily get one or two
million views by
blend
ing

the hottest newest Samsung device. The
y go many views by
blend
ing

the iPhone 5 and the Samsung 3sg
at the same time.

Revenue versus Branding


Blendtec has two goals with its campaigns: create revenue and
enhance
branding.
The entire
goal
of the
Will it Bl
end?

series
is
to strengthen their
branding. Hirst
explained
they
get lots of views and
site
visitors

from this series
.
While the videos
generate some
revenue
,
the goal is to create content that gets shared
; content
people want to talk about
so
the
brand
g
ets
more

exposure
.


When
asked if these videos create revenue,
Hirst

had a hard time answering. He
said “We look really closely at the locations we’re in and how quickly our blenders are
selling
there.
We believe it’s working but it’s hard to
statistically prove it.



THE VALIDITY OF VIRAL: DOES VIDEO ADVERTISING REALLY HELP A BUSINESS?


28

T
here is a correlation between video and consumer purchase decisions. Hirst
said, “if somebody watches a video on your product
,

they’re 64% more likely to purchase
it. If you think about it that way we do quite a few paid views o
f our commercials that are
highly targeted
,

then we put these videos on specific places on our website to increase the
likelihood of somebody watching a video about us
.
” Retail stores are the biggest sellers
of Blendtec blenders.

When they release a succ
essful
Will it Blend
video, Hirst
said
they
don’t necessarily

see a huge jump in sales, but they do see a higher request for blenders in
international markets. Hirst hopes that when people
go to the stores they will think of the
videos they saw o
nline and
purchase the product. The videos are also an easy way to
prove popularity to retailers.

Case Description:
Bad Breath Test

by Orabrush


Orabrush is perhaps one of the greatest success stories illustrating the power of
viral video

in launching a new company
.
Its video “Bad Breath Test


How to Tell When
Your Breath Stinks,” has more than 17 million views. It’s one of the

sponsor
ed

channels

with the most subscribers

on YouTube.
The first video has

13 million hits
and the entire
series has
30 million views o
f the series. Since Orabrush launched exclusively on
YouTube and Facebook, its sales soared from zero to $1 million in less than a year (Boal,
2010).

I interviewed Austin Craig, the spokesperson for Orabrush. Online YouTube
videos are what saved the compa
ny. Dr. Bob Wagstaff invented a special tongue scraper
called the Orabrush. He spent eight years trying to market it. He spent his own money
on
advertising
, but he didn’t know the best
method
. He spent $40,000 on an infomercial, but
that only sold about
100 units.


THE VALIDITY OF VIRAL: DOES VIDEO ADVERTISING REALLY HELP A BUSINESS?


29


Craig said Wagstaff knew he had a good product; he just didn’t know how to sell
it. As a last
resort
, Wagstaff presented his product to a market research class at the
Brigham Young University School of Business Management. He asked them to d
o some
market research on the product to see if i
t would sell online.

A group of students
presented their findings to the class and concluded that 92% of people surveyed that
would want to try Orabrush, would not buy it on the Internet. Therefore, they co
ncluded
that it was not worth marketing online.


Craig’s friend, Jeff Harmon, was in that class and saw the presentation. He
raised his
hand
and said “that means 8% of people on the Internet might be interested in
buying this product online. 8% of the I
nternet is millions of people. You’re not interested
in pursuing that market?”
He then got with Wagstaff to try and promote the Orabrush.


Harmon

spent nights and weekends

figuring

out how to market the product online
when Wagstaff
had no money left for ma
rketing.

They

realized they’d exhausted all the
conventional avenues.
Wagstaff had e
ither already tried them or
didn’t have

enough
money to try them.
A
ll that was left was soc
ial media.


It was the summer of 2009 when Harmon got the idea to make a YouTube video
about Orabrush. YouTube was just barely opening up its platform to marketers. Up until
this point YouTube had just been
for uploading

home videos,
it had
no advertising
purposes
.

Jeff was one of the first people to jump in and figure out how to use that
system to sell products
. Harmon
got really go
od at it, really fast, i
n an advertising
ecosystem th
at didn’t have much competition,


said Craig.


Harmon
got Craig and a couple other
friends together to create a trial video.
The
video starts out with Craig explaining what halitophobia (fear of chronic bad breath) is,
THE VALIDITY OF VIRAL: DOES VIDEO ADVERTISING REALLY HELP A BUSINESS?


30

how to tell if you have it, and a solution to the problem (the Orabrush). It’s all done in a
clever, witty way. Craig
said he was just doing a favor for a friend and didn’t think
anything of the video or if it would even be used. Now, 3 ½ years later, Orabrush’s
YouTube channel has more than 54 million views (As of February 16, 2013) and has sold
millio
ns of dollars worth

of product

from that video
.

Benefits of

a Viral Video Campaign

Just like Hirst at Blendtec, Craig said a major benefit of using the web to promote
your product is because it’s easy to measure.
He said you can learn things like, “
where
are people coming
from, what do they think, where are they getting confused, what do
they not understand? What are their hang
-
ups and holdups? Why a
re they not buying the
product?”

A strong social media presence makes

it’s a lot easier to talk to your customers. If
Orabrush has a question, it can just put a post on its Facebook page asking its 345,000 or
more fans. Craig said, “
A decade ago you would’ve had to go to the Madison Avenue
research firm, pay them tens of t
housands of dollars to get together a focus group. Now I
can just put a Facebook post and ask people, and within minutes have a critical mass of
relevant data of whatever I’m trying to find out about.”


Not only is viral advertising easy to measure, it is
a lot easier to engage people

as
compared to traditional advertising
. “By having it be social, you facilitated a conversation
around your brand, if I watch this and I think it’s funny, I can comment right now on the
video if I think it’s really funny I can

share with my friends with just a few clicks.”

He said before social media, word of mouth about television advertisement
s

was a
lot slower. “Before if I thought something was funny or relevant or interesting, best case
THE VALIDITY OF VIRAL: DOES VIDEO ADVERTISING REALLY HELP A BUSINESS?


31

scenario is I’m going to be talking
about it tomorrow to the 2 guys next to me around the
water cooler at work. Now you can share it with your 500 friends on Facebook
immediately. And if it’s that good they’ll do the exact same thing. So it makes the
playing field level.”

Social media is c
ompetitive, but if you have good content and you know your
tools it will go much further than it ever
could

have with traditional broadcast m
edia.
For
example Old Spice
was originally a television
Super B
owl advertisement
. E
ven though it
was shown on the m
ost
-
watched

television

program of the year, it had far better success
online.



Another ad
vantage of viral advertising is it’s cheaper than
trad
itional television
advertising.

“To get a TV ad it’s very simple, you just have to have a ton of money and
that’
s it. Pay the broadcasters enough money and you can put almost any garbage on TV
for 30 seconds,” said Craig
.

Orabrush didn’t have money so

he says

the inexpensive
YouTube

platform

made the company possible.
He said

t
hey had
to launch it the way
th
e
y

did, b
ecause they

didn’t have a budget.

There are several things we do at Orabrush
that
are models that we figured out, and
it’s not how any other company does business,
but we had to figure this out because there wouldn’t be an Orabrush without those.


How to Make Videos Viral


Unlike the
most
commonly shared videos on YouTube at the
time, this video had
an agenda
to sell a product. But Craig said they still wanted their video to “seem as real
and as organic as a lot of the content we’d already seen on
YouTube.” Harmon did a lot
of analysis on YouTube of the similarities between the

most popular

videos.
He noticed
there were a lot of
video
s
of
just a person talking to a camera
,

a lot of jump cuts
and

a lot
THE VALIDITY OF VIRAL: DOES VIDEO ADVERTISING REALLY HELP A BUSINESS?


32

of fast
-
talking.
The videos were also humorous.

Craig said when they wrote the script,
they tried to incorporate all those elements
.

Looking back, Craig said the video is very
amateurish; the colors are blown out
and
the sound is bad. “I think that has an air of
authenticity about it that’s disarming.

W
hen they start watching that video, the bad breath
test, they don’t think they’re watching an ad,” said Craig.

The video doesn’t even mention the product until one minute and 17 seconds into
the two
-
minute video. Craig said “by the time the product is
introduced, people are
already having fun with the video, they like the character, they’re laughing, and they’re
interested before the product is even introduced to them as an idea. So I think all of those

helped it have a viral element
.”

Craig said when i
t comes to YouTube and other
SNSs
, they have to constantly be
changing the way they do things. “A company that’s growing, has to change, has to
evolve. And a company that is changing and evolving will likely be growing as well.
We’ve just continually tried

new things. We’re always trying to figure out what’s a new
trick because as soon as the system changes, as soon as the platform changes, as soon as
there’s a new element involved there are new tricks to try,” said Craig.


Craig said Orabursh has what’s ca
lled the 4 C’s of YouTube to help them guide
the YouTube process: content, collaboration, consistency and calls to action.
Craig said
Orabrush tries to engage with other users of social media, “
You want to find the thought
leaders, you want to find the cel
ebrities. Engage with them in a way that their fans and
their followers will see. You can exchange social clout.”

THE VALIDITY OF VIRAL: DOES VIDEO ADVERTISING REALLY HELP A BUSINESS?


33

It’s very important to put out new content co
nsistently. Craig explained,

“if
people learn that they can’t rely on you to consistently delive
r, they will stop tuning in.
They will stop looking for it. They will actually forget you exist.”

Calls to action just means

that you ask users to do something. I
f you want
subscribers, tell people to subscribe. You want them to share your video, ask them

to
share it. “People respond when you give them clear instructions. By asking people to do
what you want them to do they are more likely to do it,” said Craig.


You also have to work hard to promote your video. From the beginning, every
dollar of profit f
rom the video,
they put it

right back into getting more people to see the
videos. Craig said, “because we knew the more we did that, the more we invested in our
video, the broader our audience would get or sales would get. It was this virtuous sales
cycle
. We did that for months and continue to do until this day.”

Reaching
Target
Demographics


Orabrush took advantage of YouTube’s powerful advertising system and also its
search box.
YouTube can help
target certain people using as much information as they
h
ave.
That way, you can target your video to be seen by a specific audience. “W
hen we
first started with Orabrush, we hadn’t really started narrowing our target. We just targeted
anyone that had a mouth. In fact because it was a new system at the time, and

there
wasn’t competition for it, the bid for certain search terms were very low.”

But
using

social med
ia effectively i
s more about building a strong subscriber base
than creating a single viral video. “By building your subscriber base you essentially hav
e
people who have volunteered to receive your content.” After getting success from the
first video, for a year and a half Orabrush continued
to
put out a funny, entertaining video
THE VALIDITY OF VIRAL: DOES VIDEO ADVERTISING REALLY HELP A BUSINESS?


34

at least once a week.
That helped them

build up subscribers and raise aware
ness, rather
than solely sell
products
.

Craig said, “
by focusing on building up our subscriber base, that
is how we can ensure that our videos will consistently get seen. We try to make it
something that people want to share.



Orabrush not only
looks at
how many views the videos get, but how many shares
across different social platf
orms, the like to dislike ratio
, and how many comments it has.
Now,
from specific videos,
they can even measure how many products were sold as a
result of watching that video.

Craig said, “we carefully measure our sales funnel,
meaning where people come to our site from, and whether they make it all the way
through the ch
eckout process buying a product
.

How much
do
they buy?”


Orabrush

said its videos were good not only to increase straight online revenue,
but

they

helped the

company

get into more retailers because they had proof of the
popularity online on YouTube and Facebook. It helped them get into more stores.
Previously Orabush h
ad tried getting into retailer

outlets, but with little success.
Craig
said after the launch of the videos they had retailers calling and saying,

listen, I don’t
know who you guys are, but I’ve got people coming into my store, asking for your
product, can

I carry it?


This kind of
backdoor

success worked for the company.

Getting Demographic to Share Content


The best way to get

people to share video
s through social media is

to have great
content. Another thing that Craig said always helps and is easy to
do, is just ask people

to
share the video with their friends
, “A direct call to action like that may seem like it’s too
on the nose, it’s not. It always increases your conversions,” said Craig.
It’s

not just about
getting lots of views, it also inc
reasing
shares and subscribers.

THE VALIDITY OF VIRAL: DOES VIDEO ADVERTISING REALLY HELP A BUSINESS?


35

Revenue versus Branding


Orabrush’s first few viral videos were intended to sell
a
product. Those videos
are what saved the company because a lot of people started buying the product

when they
saw the video
. But now they’re in
retail stores

all over the country

so it’s about
increasing the market size and branding the product. Craig said

they create both revenue
driven and branding videos pretty consistently.

Orabrush

classifies what each is going to be before it’s

even

produce
d. Craig said
they have videos
specifically

for brand awareness that are

meant to engage
the

audience

and help people

have positive feelings towards Orabrush.
Other

videos are very

specifically about the product. Craig said, “I
f you watch our videos it’s
not hard to tell
which ones are which
.


Analysis

Do viral video advertisements increase revenue or just brand awareness?



Both Blendtec and Orabrush have videos
meant

to increase revenue and brand
awareness. But
they aren’t

intended to do both at the same time. Because both
companies focus heavily on retail, videos are intended more to create awareness so when
consumers go into the retail stores they’ll recognize the product. The
purpose of the
videos
is also to increase

s
ubscribers

to their YouTube channel
.

How do companies get target consumers to watch and share their videos?


The main thing both companies did was to have great content.
When

they each
launched their videos, there wasn’t a lot of competition

on YouTube
. T
oday
72 hours of
video are uploaded to YouTube every minute
,
so it’s easy to get
buried and unnoticed
. A
better option to get users to watch your video is to build up your subscriber base. After
THE VALIDITY OF VIRAL: DOES VIDEO ADVERTISING REALLY HELP A BUSINESS?


36

that, you automatically have a large audience who will see
your videos when logging
onto YouTube.

Then the next thing to do to
get people to share your videos

is to make
them
easily shareable across multiple platforms.
Blendtec suggested that companies

make the
videos timely, tie videos to current events and u
se popular search terms that people are
already
searching

for.
Orabrush said companies can get people to share their videos just
by asking

viewers to do so
.

What are the benefits of viral advertising?


The biggest benefit to using viral advertising and soc
ial media is that it’s easy to
measure. There are a lot of tools available to determine not just how many views, but
where they’re viewing it from, if they go to your website, etc. With traditional forms of
advertising
like television and print, it i
s har
d to measure exac
tly how many people
actually see

your ad. Viral advertising makes it easier to reach your targeted audience.
Not only that
,

but it makes it makes it easier to engage them in an ongoing conversation.
Viral advertising is also a lot cheaper
than traditional methods. Altho
ugh it takes more
work, it is an easily accessible

option for companies that don’t have a lot of
capital.



Social media takes a lot of time because you have to constantly work on it. So
there are costs associated with hiri
ng more people to run your social media campaigns.
But that costs a lot less than creating a professional commercial and then buying
television ad space.

How do small companies use online viral marketing to promote their products?

When
the
two companies
first started, no one else

was

doing

what they were doing

online
. Neither of them expected to get as large a reach with the videos as they did. But
THE VALIDITY OF VIRAL: DOES VIDEO ADVERTISING REALLY HELP A BUSINESS?


37

they both said that
what
they
did when they launched their first viral campaign would not
work now.
Blendt
ec and Orabrush were viral video pioneers. When they first launched
their videos, they had little competition. It takes a lot more effort today to get videos
noticed.

First off, no one should set out to make a viral video. It’s better to create content
that
will reach a targeted demographic, rather than a video that will appeal to everyone
including millions of YouTube viewers. Social media platforms like YouTube are a great
way to share content about your product with others. As discussed above, there
are a lot
of great benefits. But it should not be a company’s main focus in advertising.
YouTube
videos are

best used in conjunction with other, more reliable and sustainable methods to
get a consistent return.

Downsides of Viral Video


There are clear
disadvantages to a purely digital campaign
. A big problem
,
according to
Hirst
,
is that
not everyone in
Blendtec’s

demographic is online.
He said

a
large TV campaign definitely reach
es

more people,
and it’s easier

than doing
a
digital

campaign
.

When it
comes to social you have to work really hard to create things that are
shared and spread
. With
a TV commercial you just pay money and people see it. There’s
a little more finesse involved wh
en it comes to something social,


said Hirst.


Also, one of the

biggest lessons Hirst learned was
“to not
put your faith in a platform
you don’t own.” Blendtec doesn’t have control over what Facebook and YouTube do.
Hirst said that
when
Facebook changed their algorithm
,
so that when they posted a video
they went from

reaching 30,000
to only
5,000. Hirst
said that they put too much
faith in
Facebook
and YouTube instead of building their own base in a place they control and
THE VALIDITY OF VIRAL: DOES VIDEO ADVERTISING REALLY HELP A BUSINESS?


38

manage, like a blog or
website
. Hirst said i
f

you create content that your target
demographic wan
ts, rather than just trying to attain a million views, you have a far better
chance of succeeding than with just a viral video.


The main goal should be to use these tools to get people back to your website, which
you can control. He said, “these should be looked at as tools, not
the be all end all.”
Instead he suggested engaging people on
Facebook and YouTube keeping
and then

drive

them back to your site.

Another negative thing about social media is
that
it’s
constantly

changing. This
worked for Orabrush because they jumped into social media at a time YouTube was
evolving, and figured out quickly how to

make the changes work for th
em. Hirst said
they have to change the way they do things every six months, “
YouTube, Facebook and
nearly any web platform is constantly evolving. Your platform is evolving, adapt with it
or you will be irrelevant very soon. That’s just a cold hard reality

that people are going to
have to accept if people want to be anything in social media.



Getting a viral video is not always possible, no matter how good you are. Craig
said, “I know some of the people who are the best in the world, and they can’t do tha
t
consistently, they can not just have videos go viral every time.” There’s a lot of luck
involved with viral and there’s no guarantee your video will spread.

Another downside of viral video that Craig warned about is the fact that
companies don’t have to
tal control over social media. And as Blendtec warned, don’t put
your faith in a platform you don’t control. Craig said that no matter how good your video
is, there will always be negative comments about it. You do have the option to sensor
comments.
You

have to

let people
be open,
and you in turn have to be transparent with
THE VALIDITY OF VIRAL: DOES VIDEO ADVERTISING REALLY HELP A BUSINESS?


39

your followers
. If you’re not open with your content, people won’t trust you. Craig
suggests that it’s important
to engage with the negative comments and manage them.

With televisio
n ads people can
make

negative comments, but word of mouth can
only go so far and it’s not permanently written on the Internet.

It takes longer for things
to spread around through word of mouth and it’s not as permanent. Eventually people
would stop talki
ng about the problem. But with social media, everything is written
permanently and it’s often an ongoing conversation.

Don’t Plan a Viral Video

When asked what advice Craig had for other companies trying to do viral he said
,

“Don’t set out to make a vira
l video
. I
t’s like setting out to win the lottery
,
“You don’t
plan on paying your bills by buying lottery tickets. You need to do something sustainable.
A lottery ticket is not a strategy. A viral video is not a strategy. It’s a shot in the dark.
Sustainable campaigns are how you build a brand. Sustainable

campaigns are how you
build a business.”
Even though it worked for Orabrush, it’s not the best ongoing business
strategy because it’s not a consistent source of revenue. Craig admitted that even the best
viral video creators can’t always
get
every

one of
their videos to go viral.

“If you’re trying to build your brand online,
he suggests using
a lot of the same
content strategies you would use
in traditional broadcast media
. He also suggests that
you
adapt

your content strategy
for the medium. You want br
and advocates, you want people
to like your brand, and you want people to talk about your brand. The best way to do that
is
by creating
an ongoing conversation and continu
ing

to put out content
.

He said a viral video should never be a goal of a company.
Even if it goes viral,
the company may not be able to handle that
Web
traffic.
A

single viral video isn’t enough
THE VALIDITY OF VIRAL: DOES VIDEO ADVERTISING REALLY HELP A BUSINESS?


40

to keep a business going.
The marketing directors at b
oth Blendtec and Orabrush
realize

that a viral video is not a sustainable, long
-
term and
consistent way to grow a business
and increase revenue.

Limits and
Further Research

Opportunities


Only two companies were interviewed for this research. These companies are
similar in the
ir

viral video success stories. They shared a lot of the same meth
ods and
philosophies. There are other companies who could’ve been interviewed and compared
to Orabrush and Blendtec to see if they had any differing conclusions about viral video. I
strictly interviewed companies about viral advertising. But other indep
endent content
creators could’ve been interviewed about their experience with viral video.


Both of these companies are also from Utah. There’s actually quite a strong
presence in Utah for viral video. Some of the top YouTube video creators like Lindsey

Stirling, The Piano Guys, Kid History videos, and Devin Graham are all from Utah.
The
guy behind the highly revered Old Spice ads, Jason Bagley, is from Utah. The ad won
the Grand Prix at the Cannes Advertising Festival, which Bagley says is "the highes
t
award they give." So clearly there is a lot more to be studied about YouTube in Utah.

Conclusion


Blendtec became the infamous campaign because it was

launched

at the right
place and the right time. Blendtec was on the viral video scene at the right time,

because

in 2006, there was little competition on YouTube. This same campaign m
ight

not
have
worked as easily and
been
as
inexpensive

today.

Hirst said,

today
anyone can get a viral video,
for the right price.
He said,

“your
odds of becoming viral are pretty slim. If you look at the best viral campaigns, all of them
THE VALIDITY OF VIRAL: DOES VIDEO ADVERTISING REALLY HELP A BUSINESS?


41

that I
know of have been mostly paid.
The concept of viral being free and easy is not true.
It’s

really difficult to get something to go viral and usually you’ve got to pay a lot of
m
oney to get it to do it for you
” said Hirst.


Even though Blendtec had ph
enomenal success, Hirst suggested

taking a more
traditional approach to advertising. “I feel bad

when I tell people this because people are
so excited about viral and they want to do it so badly. I try to not be a downer,

b
ut there
are proven methods that can almost guarantee you success
,

and viral is not one of them.”


Hirst suggested

investing your time, effort and money into something more
proven to work
, like email marketing
.
He said it has been around a long time so no one
talks about it anymore, but it actually makes more money for Blendtec than social media
does.
Blendtec has a s
trong email campaign where it emails out a new recipe every week
to use with the Blender.

Hirst said, “
It’s just that people are excited about social so you
hear about it all the time, but investing in things that are a little bit older but are proven,
and

can almost guarantee the results out of is my advice to people.”

Facebook and YouTube will always have a place in digital marketing, but using
those tools is not as easy as it might sound.
He said

the

success stories are an anomaly.
Social
does have valu
e because
in a day
he

can drive a thousand people to wherever we
want them to go.
“That’s a lot of power to hold. T
hat’s the true value of social to me is
that once you’ve spent the time to build that network, then you have the ability to take
that network

where you want them.


Online video is an easy, cost
-
efficient way to market products. Social media
platforms provide a quick way to interact with customers. It’s also easily measured. It
should be an important part of any companies advert
ising efforts. But no company
THE VALIDITY OF VIRAL: DOES VIDEO ADVERTISING REALLY HELP A BUSINESS?


42

should intend to make a viral video. It’s not a sustainable business method. Instead,
companies should focus on creating easily shared content that appeals to targeted
demographics.

Instead, use video to drive people to whe
re you want them and to increase
brand awareness.
THE VALIDITY OF VIRAL: DOES VIDEO ADVERTISING REALLY HELP A BUSINESS?


43

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48

Appendix A


Interview Questions


1)

What were you advertising goals?

2)

What factors led you try video marketing?

3)

What was the inspiration for your video?

4)

What other forms of advertising were you vested in?

5)

Were they successful?

6)

Did viral video advertising save your company money in
advertising costs?

7)

How did your other methods tie into your social media and video campaigns?

8)

What did you expect to gain from your video?

9)

Where did the inspiration from your video come from?

10)

How is video advertising different from other forms?

11)


What are s
ome of the benefits of viral advertising for you?

12)

How has YouTube helped you with the viral video process?

13)

How was social media impacted your viral video process?

14)

Did you expect your video to go viral?

15)

How did you make your video easily shareable?

16)

What did

you do to get your video viewed?

17)

What platforms did you use to share your video?

18)

What did you do to encourage viewers to share your video with others?

19)

What did you do to reach your target audience?

20)

How did a viral video help you reach your intended audien
ce?

21)

Did you see an initial spike in views?

22)

What would you have done different?

23)

You already have a strong viral video web presence, what are you doing to keep
up the momentum?

24)

How do
you

use online viral marketing to promote their products?

25)

Do viral video a
dvertisements increase revenue or just brand awareness?


26)

How do you measure success of videos?

27)

How do companies get viewers to share their ads?

28)


Do what degree to you make your ads stealth, meaning how do you get people to
watch them without appearing to
seem pushy, but still relay information about
your product?



THE VALIDITY OF VIRAL: DOES VIDEO ADVERTISING REALLY HELP A BUSINESS?


49

Appendix B