Viral advertising is a relatively new craze that has quickly become the next big thing in marketing. A word of mouth (WOM) strategy, it forces marketers to create branded videos that consumers like so much that they want to share it with friends. To achieve viral success, an ad must create enough buzz to generate one million views, which is the standard tipping point where a video can go from popular to viral status (Teixeira, 2013).
This task proves difficult not only because it’s centered on the premise of asking consumers to market a brand for free, but also because of the uncertainty that surrounds the entire phenomenon. Marketers have little proof as to why their ad has gone viral, yet another popular brand’s video with nearly identical content proved to be a flop. No, there’s no true recipe for creating the perfect content to go viral, but that has not stopped market researchers and behavioral scientists from trying to figure it out (Teixeira, Wedel, and Pieters, 2012; McNeal, 2012; Berger and Milkman, 2012; Guadagno, Rempala, Murphy, and Okdie, 2013; Yuping, 2012; Dobele, Toleman, and Beverland, 2005; Harvey, Stewart, Ewing 2011).
This rapid enthusiasm in viral video research arose just after social media use skyrocketed across the globe, evidence that the advertising industry has now fully acknowledged the significant value that social media offers to marketers, especially in the case of WOM campaigns (Yuping, 2012, p.471).
So far, studies have been done to figure out the types of content that goes viral, why consumers choose to share one video and not the next, who the consumers are that are sharing these videos, and the implications of viral ads on consumer behavior, knowledge, and attitude. While there is still more research both expected and needed on this topic, the purpose of this paper is to compare, contrast, and integrate the research that has already been conducted on these issues.
Which ad elements trigger the best response from consumers?
Researchers have determined which ad elements trigger the most beneficial response from consumers by analyzing differences in consumer propensity to (1) enjoy the video and (2) share the video, as content elements are added, removed, or rearranged.
Strategizing for a viral video campaign involves making decisions on which ad elements will be the most helpful in creating a highly sought-after WOM effect. Researchers have attempted to resolve this this question by analyzing the changes in consumer propensity to (1) enjoy the video and (2) share the video, in response to the addition, subtraction, or relocation of ad elements throughout a series of sample videos (Teixeira, Wedel, and Pieters, 2012, p.145-156).
Experimental findings concluded that the best way to snag the initial interest of viewers and hold their attention throughout the video is through the use of emotional content (Teixeira, 2012). Recent studies aimed at measuring viewers’ emotional responses to videos...