Your Guess Is As Good As Theirs When It Comes To Viral Video

from the making-stuff-up dept

While plenty of companies are turning their attention to online viral or word-of-mouth marketing, many are having a hard time grasping the lack of metrics the medium offers. Not that these metrics are necessarily important in and of themselves, but rather because these companies are used to having readily trackable metrics — after all, the relatively easy viewer tracking (assuming the numbers can be trusted, of course) is one reason that’s fueling the shift in ad spending to online media like banner and text ads. If nothing else, the metrics allow individuals to justify their actions to their superiors, and for departments and companies to justify their strategies. But while it’s easy to see how many people clicked through an ad and eventually bought a product or performed some other action, it’s very difficult to measure the effectiveness of viral marketing efforts. A spate of recent stories about the popularity of certain online videos illustrated this. The company behind the rankings presented them as an “official” list of popularity, and plenty of reporters bought into the press release unquestioningly. In truth, though, the figures are little more than a guess. By their very nature, it’s impossible to know how many people watched a particular video as it got passed around by email, posted on different web sites, and so on. So the researchers used a, frankly, bizarre methodology involving Google search results, surveys with small and non-random samples, and some “assumptions” and “insight” — or, to you and me, guesses. That’s how, for instance, they say the Star Wars Kid video was viewed 900 million times (keep in mind another research firm that’s generally better known and more credible, says that the total online population of people 15 and older is about 730 million). But what’s perhaps a bigger problem is that they’ve got simply no idea how many people have seen the videos — from a marketing perspective, that number’s more important than overall views, particularly since with viral marketing, companies don’t really incur any marginal costs as the audience grows. This isn’t to say that the internet is in dire need of a way to trace viewership of viral videos and other word-of-mouth marketing efforts; but rather that marketers need to worry less about the individual metrics and more on their cumulative, overall effect.

Rate this comment as insightful
Rate this comment as funny
You have rated this comment as insightful
You have rated this comment as funny
Flag this comment as abusive/trolling/spam
You have flagged this comment
The first word has already been claimed
The last word has already been claimed
Insightful Lightbulb icon Funny Laughing icon Abusive/trolling/spam Flag icon Insightful badge Lightbulb icon Funny badge Laughing icon Comments icon

Comments on “Your Guess Is As Good As Theirs When It Comes To Viral Video”

Subscribe: RSS Leave a comment
Sanguine Dream says:

Good ole corporate mentality

What bothers me in all this is that the only reason they want this data is to use it to figure out a way to more effectively (read: insidiously) market their products. When will they realize that using inflated data (or in many cases outright lies) so justify borderline underhanded tactics will turn the consumers against them?

Anonymous Coward says:

Viral videos are finicky, I’ve made serveral videos that have received over a 100 thousand views a piece but they were not nearly as good as some of my many flops. It’s not something I’d bet my marketing budget on. Viral Videos are usually viral by accident, you can’t make a video and go “It’s viral, watch it” it doesn’t work like that. It’s not a science and unless you monkey with numbers to make a video look popular and therefore make it become popular you’re not going to have much luck.

NSMike says:

Re: (To Anonymous Coward post on Dec. 15, 06 @10:1

I beg to differ. Check out the BlendTec viral marketing videos. They’re viral by nature, and terribly successful. About five of them have hit the front page of the Digg video section. Their videos embody perfect viral marketing. Short videos, simple premise (Will it Blend?), positively demonstrative of their product, and something everyone would like to see (who wouldn’t like to see if 50 glass marbles would blend?).

Add Your Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here

Comment Options:

Make this the or (get credits or sign in to see balance) what's this?

What's this?

Techdirt community members with Techdirt Credits can spotlight a comment as either the "First Word" or "Last Word" on a particular comment thread. Credits can be purchased at the Techdirt Insider Shop »

Follow Techdirt

Techdirt Daily Newsletter

Techdirt Deals
Techdirt Insider Discord
The latest chatter on the Techdirt Insider Discord channel...