Viral ads: what works and can it live on TV?

A Reuters story titled "Viral Good for Advertisers" has a marketing agency stating that a video of a Canadian schoolboy playing with a light sabre, which received 900 million hits, could help advertisers tap into the younger Internet audience. But it's not always easy to tell what will successfully resonate with the audience enough to convience them to purchase something or even remind them of the brand. Especially as much viral advertising has very little to do with the product or brand.

"With viral videos, the audience is in control so advertisers have to engage this audience rather than bombard them," said Toni Smith, Head of Strategy and Communications at the Viral Factory agency. "They need to be cleverer and more inventive as they cannot buy the space."

"Our research showed fun, pointless and silly content were very popular with the young Internet audience and advertisers can learn a lot from that," Smith said.

"Advertisers should embrace the Internet medium by all means but they should not take advantage of it. Their campaigns should say what they need to but in a fun and entertaining way."

In related news, a new viral site has been advertising in the US with ads that spoof vocational school ads. The long 2 minute plus version can be viewed on youtube below.

At the end of the shorter versions being shown on TV, folks were directed to a fake url that went to The About Ziddio page reveals that the site is a part of Comcast.

Welcome fans and filmmakers to Ziddio - a new online and ON DEMAND channel from Comcast featuring user-generated content. is a place where you can create, watch and share videos with a few key differences we know you'll like.

The content you'll find on Ziddio is mostly created through a variety of contests. Our contests aren't random: we partner with great brands that are recognized and loved around the world. So in one contest, you might be asked to create an application to the Jedi Council from HBO and in the next, you might be showing off your messy home to the Clean House crew from the Style Network.

Oh... there's one more thing. The top-rated videos and the prize winners will be available through Comcast ON DEMAND. That's right, TV. The kind you, your parents, your boss, your teachers and your ex's all watch.

So it seems traditional TV channels are now jumping on the viral bandwagon in hopes to be able to still cash in on advertising dollars and finding ways to create contests to have consumers create the viral advertising for them.

Will people want to view viral ads from the comfort of their sofa? Or will that be something that remains a computer only activity? It looks as if Comcast is hoping to bring folks back to the TV using the ON DEMAND (which they already have been trying to do since it's like watching a show on a DVR). I don't know what the numbers are for folks using the ON DEMAND system. I will admit that I do on occasion but mostly it's for shows and channels I'm already familiar with. Unless I know the person who won, I don't know if I'd go through the menus to try to find a viral video I could just see online.

AnonymousCoward's picture
Dabitch's picture

They're using the star wars kid as a viral example? the kid who's parents sued the other kids who put his film on the web, three years ago? Oh their finger is soo on the pulse innit?

caffeinegoddess's picture

hahah! Oh definitely! ;)

AnonymousCoward's picture

I thought this ad was pretty funny. It reminded me of the ads I'd see where I could get a job in "elementary education", "plumbing" and more that I used to see when I was a kid.

Dabitch's picture

That bit was funny, especially with the split screens of people plugging in headphones and USB widgets into laptops as visual to "Gain the skills you need..."