The Secrets behind many Viral Videos….the anti-Christ within the Social Web

I have seen many attempts to produce a formula for viral video to drive sales. A lot of the rules are similar but one would argue that “viral” is the result of the effort as opposed to the strategy. Anyone intending on creating viral video can absolutely expect to witness incremental growth in traffic or sales if done right but it can come at a cost. The video below summarizes one of those strategies from The Comotion Group.

I have had the pleasure of working with Dan Ackerman-Greenberg, founder of The Comotion Group. This was the infamous post that was featured in techcrunch titled “The Secret Strategies Behind Many Viral Videos” and the immense controversy it drew. The tactics used by Dan and Matt to successfully get videos to the number 1 position involved using staff to create comments to draw attention to the post and seeding the video in networks, and even faking headlines. Hmm…sounds like something any company would do to drive sales.

In the world of social networking, Rule No. 1 talks about authenticity ie being real. Authenticity has always been a difficult position to maintain where marketing is concerned. Let’s face it — you are selling a product. You have limited time and limited budget. To build authenticity follows a set of new rules. You need TIME — time to build a network…time to build credibility….time to build a legitimate following….Only then can you even hope to drive that traffic or start evangelizing your products. It’s not within the realm of possibility when you have to meet quarter-end goals. Dan has a proven formula that works. If you look at his website, it’s merely a webform. Both Dan and Matt have had such huge success as a result of the article they haven’t had time to even create a website. Yes, it’s controversial…but it can be a potential short-term gain for those who don’t have the luxury of time. The consequences can also be enormous. So…proceed with caution.

The emergence of this new medium….

I’ve responded to a number of blog posts “ Adds Links and Easter Eggs to Music Videos” and “Hypervideo: Hyperlinking video content” and there is a lot of positive stuff being written about companies such as ours. Interactive video is here but it’s taking some time to sink into mainstream.  It’s ironic:  iTV has been talked about for years –> it was supposed to have emerged by now….yet online video is still a medium we haven’t figured out.  We’re still too far off that iTV phenomenon given that the online video market is still in a state of fragmentation and testing. Everyone’s still trying to figure out the monetization angle. There are still no standard CPMs for video advertising. Formats are continuously morphing in response to the user and advertising views on mitigating annoyance and increasing performance.  The video player is non-standard and the recent partnerships like FOX networks and utargetBrightcove and Bebo; and AOL and ESPN  are results of attempts to spread the net as wide as possible to maximize audience reach. Performance is also another topic that needs addressing. TV has always been a branding medium –>product placement has been the only in-content-type-advertising that is both costly and doesn’t necessarily translate into revenue or traffic. Video has the ability to solve for this given its emergence from the online world, which records tonnes of data on user behaviour and determines likely user propensities. Google has already started this process and is moving quickly to figure this out when the digital home environment comes to fruition.

Most importantly, before all this settles the public has to become comfortable with the notion of video interactivity and the plethora of possibilities from exploring new ways of publishing to new models of revenue generation. The music industry can definitely benefit by creating new engagement possibilities for their artists. It’s a matter of time…hopefully just around the corner…

Hypervideo, IPTV…the holy grail of online video

This is shameless promotion since I am employed by Overlay.TV but I truly believe that this company has the holy grail to the next generation of online video. Having worked at a huge established portal, I understood all too well the challenges with monetizing video. Youtube is still testing the waters on this one. Yahoo! was still using pre-roll video and companion ads alongside of video and commanding high CPM rates that avertisers weren’t buying. What’s more: the monetization of video was limited only to the premium content on Music and News. The video channel itself ironically included only banner options. In all these cases, performance was poor for the most part because the ads were annoying and advertisers attempted to infer relevance to the video content where there was none.

Overlay.TV does a few things: It allows the user to create this relevance by empowering them to be the advertiser. The video also doesn’t have to be premium content but ANY content found on video-sharing sites. Now it’s super easy to be a publisher and add value to any video. On the consumption side, the user has the option to turn off the overlays and watch the video in its original form. Have a look at what I’m talking about: Here’s one I created of IJustine and American Eagle.

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