How Viral Videos Differ from Video Advertisements

Since we are in the business of Viral Video marketing we are often asked how is that different than video advertisements. Even the most keen investors in Boston have posed the question to us. The questions are expected because our industry is still in her infancy. The videos we promote are known as Viral Videos. This editorial aims to establish a differentiation from our industry’s sister: video advertisements.

Online video rose to mainstream popularity in the last decade and immediately marketers created a demand. The initial supply consisted of in-banner ads, pre-rolls, post-rolls and other forms of video advertisements. Video advertisements proved themselves to be an effective method of marketing and branding. Over the years, a new form of online video marketing was bubbling under the radar. Enter the Viral Video.

Viral Videos are different than a video advertisement for two reasons.

  1. Viral Video content is remarkable
  2. Viral Video content is worth sharing

My favorite Viral Video example of 2012 is’s “Our Blades Are F***ing Great”.

I have watched this video over a dozen times for Michael Dubin’s deadpan humor. Myself and millions of people were willingly marketed to because the video is remarkable and worth sharing.

When a consumer thinks of advertisements on TV or the pre-rolls they are forced to watch before their video plays it is usually an advertisement they do not care for. The brand benefits from what I call brute force branding. The consumer is being marketed to because he is being forced to watch.

In contrast, a viral video has the potential to deepen the relationship between the consumer and brand because the consumer wants to watch. The ultimate ideal is the consumer watching and then wanting to share the video with their friends.

As of writing this post the spot has 4.6 million views. Let’s contrast that viral video against a Gillette video advertisement with 9,000 views.

There is nothing remarkable going on in that 30 second spot. Consumers are not forming an emotional bond with the brand nor will they share the video with their friends.

The Viral Video vs. video advertisement paradigm is very simple to understand and each type is very effective for marketing. We are seeing a rapid acceleration in brands who prefer a Viral Video over a video advertisement because they desire the emotional connection with consumers. We will be writing more editorials exploring the introductory concepts in this article.

Note: When referring to Viral Videos, we are talking about branded viral videos. Viral Videos that are promoting a product or service. This is a contrast to Viral Videos that are  for fun such as Double Rainbow or Charlie Bit My Finger.

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