Friday, March 14, 2014

What Makes a Mobile Video Ad Viral?

Is it possible to ensure the success of a mobile ad campaign by pairing together certain fail-safe ingredients?  "Fail-safe" may be extreme, but analyzing what has been successful in the past can certainly help us predict which ads will be most effective in the future. If we can identify some common threads in today's most shared mobile ad campaigns, we can start to piece together an idea of which of our videos are likely to be viewed by the masses, and which ones are doomed to languish alone in cyberspace indefinitely.

Global Mobile Ad Trends
Mobile ad trends are evolving perhaps more rapidly than those of any other marketing platforms out there, but the attributes of today's most shared mobile ads are not so different from campaigns made for TV and desktop computers. Take for instance Google's "How it Feels (through Glass)" video, one of the most shared ads in recent months with almost 528,000 mobile shares via my company's video network in February 2013. The video was released in conjunction with the #ifihadglass competition, a chance for engineers, programmers, and developers to use the new technology as part of Glass's Beta stage of development. Not surprisingly then, the ad appeals to the creative and adventurous among us, inviting the viewer to see the world through the eyes of ballerinas and skydivers, sculptors, and world-travelers, and of course, Glass. The pairing of these images with uplifting music is meant to inspire and exhilarate, creating a compelling ad experience that viewers want to share with their friends.
But some successes are harder to predict. Take for instance DC Shoes' ad for Robbie Maddison's AIR.CRAFT. Clocking in at over 10 minutes long, the video features motocross star Maddison doing stunts in an aircraft graveyard in Tucson, AZ. The video received over 147,000 shares in February, an unlikely accomplishment for a shoe and apparel company with a niche market. But niche or not, DC nailed it by knowing who their audience was and catering to it. With elements of danger, masculinity, and adventure, it is no mystery why the ad appeals to teenage boys - an important demographic in the mobile market. The lesson? Know your audience.

Timeliness is another important predictor of success in the mobile video ad market. Just ask members of the Miami HEAT, who cashed in on a trend late last month by creating their own Harlem Shake video. While it is not quite a formal advertisement, the video has received over 1 million mobile shares on our network since it was released. Not bad exposure, especially considering how little it cost to make.
Viral Ads in India
In emerging markets such as India, where mobile phones are often the only screens that provide people access to Internet, the most successfully shared videos are the ones that play on themes with universal appeal. Take for instance Kit Kat's recent Dancing Babies ad, which uses both humor and adorability to engage viewers in a way that transcends demographic boundaries. Or the recent campaign from India's Idea Cellular, which uses the success of an infectious pop song to sell ringtones and associate their brand with something people already know and love. Same goes for Vodafone's "Made for You" ad, featuring various ladies at the tailor's shop discussing the specific cuts they want for their ethnic Indian dress, salwar kameez. The point is that everyone has different preferences and particularities, and we can all relate to that.

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