Buzz-generating ads are being distributed through unofficial channels such as websites, blogs and e-mail. Andrew Whitehouse, creative director of FoxP2, tells us a bit more about how it works.
What are the various guises viral campaigns can take? Viral marketing induces websites or users to pass on a marketing message to other sites or users, creating a potentially exponential growth in the message’s visibility and effect. When it’s effective, one person will give it to several people who in turn will promote it to several other people. Viral marketing gives the consumer something that they can use for free with the intent of gaining that customer to market other products and to create brand name awareness. One example is an e-zine. If it’s appealing, the consumer will want to share it with others who in turn will share it too. A great viral ad is distributed widely for free because people love it. But you have to entertain them – the second they think you are trying to sell to them they will resent having to do your work for you. The trick is not to let people think they are being marketed to, so the campaign has to take on a life of its own.
Why would a business turn to viral? A viral campaign involves and engages users through excellent creative material. This makes it ideal for the launch of a new product, service or brand, as it encourages consumers to connect with the message. It also works for companies seeking to reinvent themselves or refresh their brand. Many viral marketing campaigns giveaway products or services to attract attention. Free e-mail services, free information, free software programs. Viral marketing plans take advantage of the human desire to be cool and popular, so build a campaign designed on that and you have a winner.
How much value do you get from viral versus other marketing? One of the best things about viral marketing is that it’s far cheaper than traditional marketing – all you pay for is the creation of the message; its propagation does not cost you anything, making it an ideal medium for businesses with limited budgets. With good creative material and proper seeding, a viral campaign can generate millions of clicks and active viewers. Because websites have counters you can measure how many people have responded to an ad. This gives you greater accuracy than traditional advertising measurement.
What was the most effective viral campaign you ran in 2006? The Pronto campaign highlighted the power of viral. The client had a very limited budget, so it was not possible for us to buy a database. We ended up mailing the ads to all our friends. Within three weeks of its launch, the site had three million hits. International statistics showed that Pronto’s site had the second highest increase of traffic in the world in the fortnight following its launch.
The campaign was successful because it washumorous and focused on two of South Africa’s most infamous public figures.
For more information contact +27 21 4244802, www.foxp2.co.za