Chapter 3. Viral Video Is Dead

In this chapter, you will learn:

  • Why advertisers creating viral videos are likely wasting money and missing more proven tactics.

  • The "Seven Deadly Sins" marketers often make in naïve attempts to make their brand viral.

  • The eight immutable laws of viral video.

  • The common traits of the most popular online videos (from kids and pets to dancing and topical satire).

Why Viral Video Is Dead

For reasons I cannot quite explain, I am often invited to speak in Canada. After an all-night drive to Toronto, I leapt on-stage last year at the Canadian Marketing Association annual meeting. I proclaimed that viral video was dead, and the country's marketing magazine led with an article titled "Marketing Week Begins with 'Viral Is Dead' Declaration."

It is true that in 2005 through 2007, many clever advertisements went viral, and were passed along in the millions. While this is increasingly rare, advertisers still recommend viral video to their clients. As I mentioned in an earlier chapter, it is, in fact, a misnomer to refer to a video as viral until it actually goes viral.

Creating a video in hopes for it to go viral is the gambler's equivalent of roulette. The payoff may be significant, but the odds are very low. There will continue to be exceptions like the Evian Roller Babies (an ad featuring digitally animated babies roller skating to rock music).

Certain professional creators, and even more amateur video creators, have large, recurring audiences and fans. So their sponsored ...

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