Myth busting: the true and false of viral video

Rachael Micallef
By Rachael Micallef | 30 April 2015

Video ad tech company Unruly has just launched, bringing eight years of social video experience to Australian shores. But new MD Lance Traore said there are plenty of viral myths the company needs to bust, chief among them, the idea that “viral” video success can't be predicted.

“It is hard to set a viral strategy at the beginning but when you're into the production stage and producing your content you can definitely predict it,” Traore told AdNews.

“If you look at traditional media like television, brands are putting loads of money into insights and studies, but in the online video space people haven't really got it.”

He said with the amount of data that exists today and the amount of academic research on the phenomenon of “going viral” it is possible to predict viral likelihood. Unruly has developed an algorithm that allows the company to test a piece of content to “not only tell you how shareable it will be, but why as well.”

The company, which formally launched its Australian office in Sydney earlier this month, said it is looking to develop an Australian-focused algorithm, specifically tweaked to predict viral likelihood in the local landscape.

Traore said another is common belief in advertising is that only short content has the ability to go viral.

“In the ADD society we have, everyone is talking about snackable content and people's patience is wearing thin,” Traore said.

“But at the same time we’re seeing that in order to drive and engage viewers, brands need more time. We we looked at purely ads that had been shared year on year, we're actually seeing the average length of the most shared ad is increasing, and that number is purely based on big data.”

Other myths include the belief that a creative device such as 'cats' or 'cute babies' or a celebrity influencer will boost the viral impact of a piece of content. But Traore said that it has been proven hat there are no “quick fixes” with viral videos and that the content needs to be good to be shareable.

He said that “emotional” rather than just only “funny” content, also tends to be key when creating something to resonate with an audience. He said regardless of the emotion a video tries to target - and funny can be one of them - evoking strong emotion has to be the core.

Traore said that when it comes to content creation, brands have evolved the way they create viral.

“Eight years ago the catchy cry was 'we need a viral' – didn't matter what was in the video, or if the brand was in there, what was important was millions of views,” Traore said.

“Now we're saying, you need to make shareable content but it needs to be relevant to your audience and it needs to be integral to your brand so people know that it's you.”

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