Viral Advertising

Posted on 18 March 2012 by Lalita Iyer

The immense progress in the fields on technology and communications has affected the way consumers’ process information, favouring rapid and efficient information exchange and interactivity. People are now favouring internet advertising which draws them into the feel and vibe of the brand them, rather than the ‘one-way’ advertising done via television, newspapers, magazines that simply informs and doesn’t give the consumer a chance to participate or engage with the brand. Keeping this trend in mind, one has seen the emergence and increasing importance of Viral Advertising.

What is viral advertising?

Technically speaking, viral marketing and / or advertising refers to marketing techniques that make use of social networks to bring about an increase in brand awareness, via a self-replicating viral process (something similar to the self-replication of a bacterial virus).

Many times, viral advertising refers to an offline process where the brand message spreads by word-of-mouth (from one consumer to the next). Such W-O-M (word-of-mouth) campaigns run on the principle of basic human nature i.e. a person will tell Three people about a service of product he likes and about Eleven people about a service or product he does not.  Therefore, if a consumer takes to a brand he will talk good about it and this positive spread of message (viral) will immensely help the brand in the long run. As opposed to, if he critics the brand, then his negative outburst will deter future customers from engaging with the brand, thus harming the brand.

Viral advertising types and examples

There is a common misconception that viral advertising is can be executed only on internet. But the truth is that many companies prefer offline viral advertising because of its high reach and low operating costs. So, viral advertising includes the online and offline activities performed by marketers in order to make the message viral and generate sufficient ‘buzz’ or ‘W-O-M’ for the brand.

Flash games, images, text messages, funny video clips, songs and advergames are the various tools that comprise of a viral campaign.

Examples of successful viral campaigns are:

Popularity and Cost Effectiveness

Viral advertising is personal and even though it is from an identified sponsor, it does not mean the companies pay for its distribution. Most of the classical viral ads circulating online start off as ads paid for by the sponsor brand, launched either on their own platform (company webpage or social media profile) or on social media websites such as YouTube. Consumers get the page link from there or copy the entire ad and forward it through e-mail or by posting it on a blog, webpage, and social media profile. In this ‘no cost’ manner, the word spreads and the brand emerges the ultimate winner. Thanks to social media platforms, it is becoming very easy for brands to simply get the word out and gather a large following.

Future of Viral advertising

In the Internet era, viral advertising presents itself as a huge opportunity, especially for companies who want low cost advertising solution. Moreover, viral ads can also be used for products that do not have the benefit of the “wow” factor. Create a funny video, a great song or a super game around the brand and it is sure to generate buzz. The biggest advantage of viral advertising is that it’s under the control of the consumers. And since, consumer is the king, and he likes viral advertising, it is here to stay.

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