Scott Monty - Strategic Communications & Leadership Advisor

Scott Monty - Strategic Communications & Leadership Advisor

In Viral Ads: It's an Epidemic, CNN Money notes the popularity of using YouTube to distribute a viral message (or in the case of Smirnoff's Tea Partay, using their own Web site to post the video, and seeing it ripped and posted on YouTube therafter).

The $64,000 question is "Can YouTube and Google Video figure out a way to make this a business?" It's the question we are all asking ourselves around the office and in the agency business. Is this a sustainable business model? If advertising dollars are required, at what point do advertisers begin to fit into the model, and where do they fit without alienating the loyal audiences of these sites?

YouTube has been inking deals lately (most recently with Warner Music, for a paid branded channel), but beyond that, there must be a some sort of financial infrastructure to support the incredible bandwith required by hosting hundreds of millions of videos. According to the article, "They hint that they are working on a mind-blowing new advertising model that may eclipse these efforts."

Just what that model is, they don't say. We'll have to wait and see.

On the flip side, agencies think that a really good viral ad doesn't need to be promoted - it should create its own buzz. You can't will something to be viral (or can you?).

At a social media roundtable last week, the group was trying to determine how (and whether) to advertise in social networks. We were discussing some of the hot viral campaigns (Subservient Chicken, Shave Everywhere, Tea Partay) and what made them successful. I suggested they came on the scene, almost unannounced and had a single element in common: entertainment value.

Lo and behold, at the conclusion of the CNN article, Kevin Roddy of BBH (the agency that created Tea Partay) says:
"I believe if you want to be successful in the world of viral, you need to play by the rules of entertainment, not the rules of selling. A lot of brands might have difficulty with that. But as soon as you [sell], people say, 'Well, I'm not going to do your work for you.'"

Props to Steve Rubel for the link.

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