Media Focus: Viral Marketing
It begins like an underground sensation. The sound is fuzzy, the image a little pixelated. It arrives in your inbox – an email you can't afford to miss. Suddenly you feel like an adventurer discovering hidden treasure.
It begins like an underground sensation. The sound is fuzzy, the image a little pixelated. It arrives in your inbox – an email you can't afford to miss. Suddenly you feel like an adventurer discovering hidden treasure. You forward the video on to the people in your address book and they feel the same. How novel! How cool! At coffee you discuss it with friends and suddenly the little video on YouTube that could is the video that did. You and twenty million others have all “discovered” this singing sensation or a “hilarious” blog and all at once the person or people behind this are famous; they've gone “viral”. Then, it happens again. Another email with another link is attached. You'd be right to smell a rat. Following the success of homemade videos and undiscovered writers in the blogosphere, marketing companies are all too aware of the power of going viral and as is the wont of marketing companies, they are keen to capitalise.
YouTube alone gets over 80 million hits a day from users – nowhere else is the power of a viral video more apparent. As more and more people try to break into their chosen field via the internet most blogs, videos and sites get lost in the milieu. This is where a company like The Comotion Group, run by Stanford Graduate Dan Ackerman Greenberg, comes in. Greenberg guarantees clients their video will receive over 100,000 hits and if not, they won't charge. He achieves this by harnessing the power of YouTube and other Internet resources and claims to be responsible for some of YouTube's most famous viral content.
Like a modern day chain letter the viral video claims authenticity at every turn, hence the grainy footage and bedroom backgrounds. Greenberg and his “people”, upon receiving a video from a customer, infiltrate forums, facebook, myspace and other networking sites where they post the video under a number of guises. Their system works, Greenberg claims to have achieved six million hits for six videos. Viral marketing looks like it's here to stay; the release of Christopher Nolan's second instalment of the Batman trilogy this summer is opening in conjunction with the biggest viral marketing campaign ever seen. People can vote online for political office in Gotham City and watch the Gotham News Network. The effect, however, can be short-lived and viral doesn't mean forever. Sandi Thom, a former myspace ‘sensation', cancelled her recent Dublin show with poor ticket sales as the alleged reason.