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My Ad's Gone Viral; Now Where are the Sales?

The wild success of the Old Spice ad campaign has reminded marketers of something they'd rather not dwell on: even if an ad goes viral, it doesn't necessarily translate into sales. Last week, Old Spice spots occupied a record-setting four positions on the "Top 10 Viral Video Ad Campaigns Chart," compiled by Visible Measures, MSNBC noted. But sales of "Red Zone After Hours Body Wash" - the specific Old Spice product the top spot is promoting - have fallen by 7% in 2010, it said, pointing to WARC figures. The first ad debuted at the Super Bowl in February.

Remember the Evian Roller Babies?

This is hardly the first time a viral ad campaign has ended with such dismal results. BrandWeek points to the Evian roller babies - now the most viewed online ad at more than 100 million views.  However the year the ad came out, in 2009, Evian lost market share as sales dropped 28%, according to statistics from Beverage Digest that BrandWeek cited. Of course, the decline could merely have been due to the recession - during which premium brands suffered significantly. However the evidence is scanty that viral videos are going to act as standard advertising, BrandWeek concludes. "An analysis of the top viral ads of 2009 show that the best a marketer can hope for is to raise awareness and drive traffic to a Web site," it said.

Viewing, But Not Interested

The explanation is simple, TJ Walker, CEO of Media Training Worldwide, told MarketingVOX. "You can look at a video because you heard it is funny - that doesn't mean you have any intention of buying anything."

That will not stop marketers from trying to dissect why a video goes viral - and then replicating those factors in their own campaigns. There is no one reason why videos become viral but they do tend to share common characteristics, writes Life Beyond Code. Some of these are:

1. The content very uncommon.

2. The characters behave in a way that is totally shocking or surprising for the occasion.

3. A video that captures a totally (unbelievably) comical moment that people are dumbfounded.

4. The community (local or global) participates and becomes part of the video.

5. The message is compelling and heart touching.


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