Unruly Opens Social Video Lab to Predict When Videos Will Go Viral

By Devon Glenn 

Creating the perfect video that reaches millions of people on YouTube or Vimeo purely by word of mouth could just be luck, but the analysts at Unruly believe they have it down to a science.

Today the video technology company has opened a Social Video Lab in its New York office where brands can test the viability of their video advertisements with a viral success algorithm called Unruly ShareRank.

Since 2006, Unruly has tracked more than 329 billion video views for its Interbrand 100 clients, including Coca-Cola, Microsoft, T-Mobile, Volkswagon, Warner Brothers, and Adidas. Through an analysis of what people share and don’t share, and feedback from viewers in focus groups, the company has come up with a ranking system for videos that brands can use to evaluate their ads not only for viral potential, but also for return on investment.

At yesterday’s press demonstration, Unruly showed the latest viral videos on a wall of screens and had visitors mark their responses to them on a multiple choice form, using a range of descriptive words from “happiness” to “fear” or stare into a webcam at a facial recognition software that reads the emotion in people’s facial expressions. These would be matched against Unruly’s existing data on the videos– ShareRank’s algorithm uses more than 10,000 data points.

Videos that make people happy have a 30 percent higher share rate, Unruly has found, but the internet is a little more complicated than that. Three’s wildly successful “The Pony #DancePonyDance” video elicited “warmth” and “hilarity,” but also “confusion” for many viewers.

The timing of the video may have helped — Europe’s horse-meat scandal was also circulating the internet. According to Unruly, one quarter of social shares happen within the first three days of an ad’s launch. Tapping into the zeitgeist at just the right moment is another variable that affects a video’s success.

Viewers don’t seem to mind branded videos, either — ¬†Unruly tracks more than half a million shares (506,976) every 24 hours.

Twitter’s six-second Vines are also an area of growth for brands. Right now, 4 percent of the top 100 most shared Vines are branded videos, compared to 1 percent of the top 100 most shared videos from YouTube and other video sites.

Most importantly to an advertiser, the wall of screens offered a glimpse at how those shares, likes, and comments could turn into sales. Unruly’s system predicts the number of website visits, Google searches, and also the intent to buy. Auto manufacturers, for instance, might not get a million sales out of a million website visits or searches for a car, but they would know whether their videos on YouTube or Vimeo had sent traffic their way.