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Minimal media/distribution cost.

An ad campaign has high production and media/distribution costs. The distribution cost of a successful viral campaign is almost zero.

Reduced production cost

Viral ads made specifically for the Internet don’t have to have the high production values that are expected for TV and can therefore be created on a lower budget.
The Internet has spawned a culture in which a homemade look can be perceived as cool, and where more risque content (limited to an adult audience) is perfectly acceptable.

Free endorsement

When someone sends a viral to a friend, they filter it from emails they’ve received and in effect endorse it. When their friend receives the viral, they choose to see it at their convenience and know that it comes recommended. Contrast that with a TV ad that interrupts a viewer during their favourite film.

Cult status

Many spoofs of well-known TV ads have been created, which on the face of it may seem to undermine the brand they are mocking, but in reality give a valuable cult status unachievable in any other way.


The Internet allows interactivity to a level not even digital TV can match. An interesting approach to interactivity was taken with Burger King’s Subservient Chicken, where the visitor can ask a giant chicken to perform tasks. It is highly entertaining and for the most part works pretty well.

Viral Marketing

Viral Marketing


In a recent Sharpe Partner’s viral marketing study, 89% of respondents said they actively shared content with others using email. 63% shared content once a week, 25% almost daily and 75% reported that they forwarded content to up to six others.

Even though this marketing method still has great potential and virtue, your campaign can easily grind to a halt due to critical mistakes. Here are some of the commonest.

A. You did not sufficiently promote the viral piece.

  1. Seed it to your database.
  2. Offer it to viral websites, newsletters, ezines, blogs and forums.
  3. Use press releases, if appropriate.
  4. Consider investing in banner impressions and/or pay-per-click.

B. There is insufficient incentive for the user to pass it on

  1. If it’s not appealing to a majority of your target audience it won’t work.
  2. Humour is still the most effective tool for encouraging strong circulation.

C. It is too complex

  1. Like everything else in marketing, if it’s not simple, it won’t work. For example including an intrusive data capture element will limit your circulation.
  2. Use ‘send to friend’ forms, single button clicks and copy paste code that users can place on their websites or blogs.

D. Not capitalising on your campaign’s growing momentum

  1. Can you get offline PR?
  2. How can you monetise the incoming traffic?
  3. How can you capture more leads?

E. Not building on trial and experience

  1. Always produce a written evaluation and circulate it for future reference.

F. Not understanding the SEO potential of your campaign

  1. To increase your search performance, provide other sites with an easy means of linking to your viral on your site.
  2. Also consider designing the viral around keywords that are relevant to your promotion or brand.

G. Don’t forget to ask the user to take action

  1. Firstly ask them to (do whatever is your objective is, e.g. visit your site, complete a survey, subscribe to a newsletter, etc).
  2. Then ask them to pass the viral on, include it on their site, newsletter or blog. Don’t ask, don’t get.

H. The campaign is overwhelmed by the brand

  1. If you are too self promoting people will be much less inclined pass it on.
  2. But showing your brand message doesn’t necessarily deter from the experience. In research 75% said that brand sponsorship did not have an impact on them forwarding the message, 19% said it encouraged them to forward it and only 7% said they thought branding was a negative thing. (But of course it clearly depends on which brand you’re talking about)

Adopted from CIM Marketing Expert

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