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What Makes a Mobile Video Ad Viral?

  |  March 26, 2013   |  Comments   |  

A look at global mobile ad trends, including viral ads in emerging markets such as India.

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.

Key Learning

So what are some best practices for creating a sharable ad based on what we already know? Let us recap:

  • Consider not just who your viewers are, but who they want to be. It worked for Google's "How it Feels (through Glass)" campaign.
  • Inspire some type of universal emotion, whether it is through the medium of adorable dancing babies, or an irresistible pop song about love.
  • Be timely and do not hesitate to cash in on a trend or ride the wave of its success. It might be short-lived, but is it not the transitory nature of the Internet one of its defining attributes?
  • Think outside of the television commercial format. The Miami HEAT video is effective even though it is not a typical ad.
  • Finally, be sure to advertise on a mobile video platform that allows for easy sharing and viewing on all types of devices, and not just high-end phones. You want as little friction as possible.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Meera  Chopra

Based in Delhi, Meera runs Vuclip's global ad business. Prior to joining Vuclip, Meera was the National Sales Head with Times Internet Ltd. She has over a decade of experience in business development and corporate sales having worked with leading media houses such as Networkplay and Komli Media.

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