Meet The Boston Startup That Helps Ads Go ViralBY: Jon Christian | June 24, 2012
A Boston-based startup says it can work with advertisers to turn promotional clips into viral sensations on the social web, but the company’s founder says that it’s more about brand engagement than mind control.
ViralGains’ service is a strange mixture of the insidious and the banal. First, its sits down with a brand or advertising agency to figure out an audience and demographic target. Then, it builds it into a web-based player and distribute it through social channels – on news platforms, through editorial content, and by targeting tastemakers. Finally, it helps track the growth of the content, although it’s not clear what options it has left if a video is just a dud.
Founder Jay Singh says that the issue of authenticity is a common concern, and that he agrees that some consumers are put off by the fact that a seemingly home-made or serendipitous clip came from a corporate source. Some, he agrees, probably refrain from sharing videos that they realize are subtle adverts – but that challenge is nothing compared to that of creating compelling content in the first place.
“I believe the challenges in spreading viral video content is minimal when brands are focused creating valuable content that will convert consumers to raving fans,” The beauty of the viral video is that it connects on the emotional level with consumers and that is why they share it. If it fails to connect on the emotional level, then consumers will simply not share the viral video. The real challenge being issued is to the brands who need to create remarkable viral video content.
Notable adverts that have spread virally include a series of Old Spice TV spots and an Activision clip of a skateboarding dog that fed into the promotion of the videogame Tony Hawk: Ride.
Still, Singh sees the privatization of the viral net as a lucrative opportunity, and it has to do with connecting with potential customers – and potential re-sharers – on an emotional level.
“The most successful brands in business are those who have emotionally connected with their consumers,” Singh said. “A brand that pursues viral videos as a method of marketing is putting themselves at a significant advantage over their competition. The advantage is attributed to the willingness to connect on the emotional level rather than the functional and logical level we see with most advertisements.”
It will be interesting to see what type of content the company ends up promoting, and whether it’s clear that the content is commercial in nature. It will also be interesting to see whether ViralGains can crack the nut of what goes viral from what doesn’t: Is what sets the Numa Numa guy and Star Wars Kid apart from less popular clips art, or science?