Brands That Want A Viral Hit Better Be Prepared To Pay

By Megan O'Neill Comment

These days every brand dreams of producing the next viral hit—the next Evian Babies or Old Spice response campaign.  But if you want to go truly viral (read: millions of views viral) then you better be prepared to pay for it.  According to analytics and media buying experts, viral hits are far from free.  In an interview with Beet.TV, Seraj Bharwani, Chief Analytics Officer at Visible Measures, and Molly Sugerman, Director of Digital Innovation at Horizon Media, talk about the price of “earned media” and how it’s not called “free media” for a reason.

Molly Sugarman of Horizon Media says, “Something that marketers don’t talk about too much…is that many of the top viral videos that are on the Ad Age video chart…are paid for.  You can pay for social action online.”  Too many brands see viral video campaigns take off and think they can do the same with nothing more than a good idea.  The truth of the matter is that it will be hard for you to get your campaign to really take off without investing in paying for promotion.

Seraj Bharwani of Visible Measures says, “It appears easy when you see Old Spice out there or Evian Babies out there, but there is a lot of art and science associated with [going viral]…You have to pay to promote your video in all of the right places where consumers can discover.”  Once you’ve paid for this, the viral spread that comes from viewers sharing, making copies and derivative content is what is termed as “earned media.”  But, once again, you have to remember that earned media is far from free.  And even if you pay, it doesn’t guarantee that your video will go viral.  You need compelling content as well so that, once your money gets the ball rolling, viewers will want to share.

Check out the video below, which is part of a longer program, and let us know what you think.  How much would you be willing to pay for a viral hit?

Megan O’Neill is the resident web video enthusiast here at Social Times.  Megan covers everything from the latest viral videos to online video news and tips, and has a passion for bizarre, original and revolutionary content and ideas.