Marketers looking for brand association and advocacy have good reason to use online video. What other medium creates a situation that, when expertly done, induces consumers to choose to spend three minutes with your brand and then share it with friends? But marketers had better have a really good reason to attempt humor in their spots. More to the point, they’d better make sure their stuff is doubling-over, tears-streaming funny. That’s the advice of the people behind the Viral Video Chart, a real-time tracker of the most viewed and shared videos in the land.
“Marketers think humor creates a favorable association with their products, but few succeed in it,” says Devra Prywes, VP of marketing and insight at Unruly, which has monitored more than 300 billion video streams since launching the Viral Video Chart in 2006. “The problem with being funny is that most of those who try it hover around amusement instead of hilarity.”
Unruly recently released a study of Super Bowl ads, looking to uncover the qualities behind the spots that got the most views and shares online. The two most successful efforts looked to elicit tears, not laughter.
In Budweiser’s dialog-free “Brotherhood” video, a rancher raises a Clydesdale foal to become a member of the beer brand’s famed team of carriage horses. Some time later, he attends a parade to see the proud, adult workhorse stride by. The horse gives him a sideways glance. As the rancher begins to pull away in his pickup, the Clydesdale comes galloping down the empty parade route to say hello. (Crying yet?) A tag at the end asking people to tweet a name suggestion for the horse amps up the brand connection. The video received 15 million views and 2.7 million shares.
Ram Truck’s “Farmer” spot attracted 19 million online views and 1.8 million shares by resurrecting Middle America’s favorite radio host, the late Paul Harvey, to deliver his essay “God Made a Farmer,” illustrated by still photos of farmers at labor.
“For the Super Bowl, there was not a joke in sight. All the advertisers used other methods to get shares,” Prywes says.
One of them, Godaddy.com, tried shock factor, but that didn’t work out so well. “There was a very sloppy kiss in the spot. People had a strong reaction, but it made for a low share rate,” Prywes says. “If I send a video to you, I want to know it’s something you’re going to appreciate and maybe share with someone else.”
Other video tips for marketers from Unruly’s customer insights chief:
Use emotional impact to target. “Once you’ve made the audience feel passionately about something, you can guide them to complete an action. See what viewers do after a spot. Follow that trail,” Prywes says.
Launch your campaigns on Wednesdays. Nearly half of weekly video shares occur between Wednesday and Friday, according to Unruly’s study, with the peak of shares occurring on Friday and the low-point hitting on the weekend. One quarter of a video shares take place in the first three days of launch.
The share’s the thing. “We actually have marketers come to us and say they are not interested in shares, but even McKinsey research says that a positive referral from a trusted source is the most powerful form of advocacy,” Prywes says. “Shares are our currency.”