Is Viral Video Marketing Effective & Cost Efficient (Part2)?

The previous blog post explored the effectiveness of Online Video Advertising and in particular commercial Viral Ads which are now common place with global consumer brands. In this serious of blog posts, I want to explore in greater detail some of the concepts mentioned earlier and in particular the concept of ‘Eyes On’ Video Advertising.

Fragmented Consumer Viewing Audience

Prior to Channel 4’s first transmission on the 2nd November 1982, the UK only had access to ITV (& cinema) as a means of motion picture (video) advertising. Therefore relevant consumer content, for example Coronation Street has previously attracted viewers almost 27million viewer in the mid-eighties, however following the introduction of other viewing attractions such a network and subscriber (Sky) digital television channels viewing numbers has fallen back to just 11million viewers. When this is compared with the UK’s growth in population, this meant that Coronation Street’s viewing numbers as a proportion of the UK population has fallen from 47% (1987: UK population of 56.8million) to just 18% (2011: UK population of 62.2million), hence this dramatic fall in the UK’s longest running soap opera has been extremely dramatic.

Growth of the Multiple Platforms – The Internet & Digital Television

The above illustrates that wide-scale consumer audiences are becoming increasingly fragmented, as viewers have many choices of platforms for watching moving pictures and the associated video advertisements that accompany them, the major difference now compared with 25 years ago is the fast growth and the high adoption rates of Internet usage in the UK. The UK currently has over 52million people connected to the internet with a population adoption rate of over 84%.

Given the recent popularity of Internet TV (e.g. BBC iPlayer; 4OD; ITV player) and not forgetting the phenomena of You Tube, consumer audiences continue to have a much a wider choice of content platforms; and as demonstrated with the Coronation Street example above the growth of the internet, coupled with growth on terrestrial and subscriber based television channels, this terrific growth in consumer content platforms has significantly fragmented consumer audiences.

Growing Diversity of Consumer Viewing Devices

In parallel with the growth of consumer viewing platforms, has come the growth in the number of physical devices that is used to view them. Again, looking back the only devoice available to the wider UK population was the traditional television set, which typically resided in the lounge, and for practical reasons let us discount the use of cinematic cameras as a device, as this was not used by the typical consuming viewer.

So what has changed over the past 25 years? During the mid-eighties, there was the PC revolution, which was personified by computing wizards, such as Steve Wozniak & Steve Jobs (Apple) and Bill Gates and Paul Allen (Microsoft & IBM). These four people created a new consumer device, the Personal Computer (PC), and with the introduction of the CD/DVD devices and connectivity to the Internet the PC (e.g. the iMac in 2005) and the latterly the laptop computer has become both an important business tool, but also a vital tool for consumer content consumption and personal laptop computer has been the device of choice for utilising online video advisements and viral ads generally.

Following the PC revolution, then came the mobile phone revolution; which gathered pace in the late nineteen-nineties and mobile phone adoption rates in the UK are now currently over 100%, which suggests that some people have more than one! However, it has been the recent emergence and significant adoption of the smart (mobile) ‘phone mobile (e.g. Blackberry, iPhone, Samsung) which connects seamlessly to the internet that has also enabled consumers to watch video content either online or stored on the device itself.

Following the success of the iPhone, Apple decided to launch their tablet PC, the iPad. Although not a new concept, what Apple did was make it so easy for the person using touch and opposed to the traditional QUERTY keyboard, this opened up new audiences and new demographics. These devices are used by young children and the grandparents, these devices has essentially become ‘content consumption devices’ and opposed to ‘content production devices’ which the traditional laptop is probably still best equipped. What the iPad does, is makes us look at things differently, and they are probably the device of choice for watching online video content and therefore have facilitated the growth of the video viral campaign. Hence the Viral Marketing Campaign industry owes much to this device and others like it and popularity grows with these types of devices, then it is clear to see a continual move away from terrestrial television to mobile internet connected devices such as the iPad.

Finally, we have come full circle. What technologists forget is that humans are essentially a highly social race, hence why the traditional television set has remained a piece of furniture at the heart of family’s living rooms for over fifty years. What is different now is that brands such as Sony and Samsung has introduced what they have coined, the Smart TV. This is essentially a television set that has partial connectivity to the Internet; the main problem with the prior statement is the word ‘partial’. People don’t want partial, they want the internet as they see it on their laptops, their mobile ‘phones and their iPad’s, they don’t want to compromise. A company, will sooner or later realise this fact and when they do, you will see Internet Television in all its glory.

No longer will we have the need for scheduling, no need for channels… What, no TV channels and no TV scheduling? Yes, that is right, great shows will all have their own domain names and will be broadcast directly via the internet… Whilst this is scary for many traditional advertisers, because it will fragment the consumer audience further, what is true is that live events will always be live. A football or rugby game or music concert is only ever live, when it is live…!!! That is a simple fact that no one can deny…

We shall see whether a company has the bravado to introduce a fully functioning internet connected TV, with either a touchpad or QUERTY keyboard interface… We shall see…

Why is Fragmented Consumer Viewer Audiences Matter?

We started this discussion with the concept of ‘Eyes On’ Video Advertising. What this article has tried to augment is that this has fragmented in two major ways: (i) diversity and growth of consumer content platforms and (ii) diversity and growth of consumer viewing devices, what this means is that people are far more exposed, far more connected to the world now than ever before; however there is a downside, people realise they now have a real choice they no longer watch video because that is the only content available to them; they watch it because it matters to them – and that is the fundamental paradigm shift in this industry over the past decade.

Therefore with technology, consumer viewing audience fragmentation is likely to continue, although it is probably live acts that will bind us all together and bring to one place at one single point in time. Therefore, we could summarise this as follows:

  • Live video content – likely to attract large audiences to one place at one point in time
  • Non-Live video content – likely to fragment consumer viewing audiences, as people gravitate towards their own personal choice in terms of the content they want to watch and when they want to watch it.

Why Is Online Video Advertising Growing at a Terrific Rate?

Hence, what seems true is that high quality video content is increasingly going online, but there are some technological challenges. However, with innovation these challenges will be overcome and television, together with mobile devices will enable the viewer to watch video content online and this will become the dominant platform over the next decade.

We have already seen the Viral Ad, launched by a Viral Campaign though providing who work in the Online Video Advertising space.

The question is ‘Viral Video Marketing effective and cost efficient? Definitely, it engages users like never before and merges traditional ‘above the line’ and ‘below the line’ marketing methodologies, hence the global consumer brand is receiving two marketing methods for the price of one.

Given where technology has taken us so far and where it is likely to take us next, Online Video Advertising will become the dominant marketing channel in the first half of the 21st century, hence brands small and large need to embrace this methodology now before they are left behind in old media.