The 3 Biggest Myths About Social Video Advertising – Busted!

- in ARTICLES, The Drum


Social video advertising is exploding across Germany. Over the last 12 months, the number of shares generated by German video ads has increased by an incredible 181.2%, with average share rates also rising from 1.3% to 1.9% during the same period.*

Such a huge growth in online video sharing offers marketers an exciting opportunity to engage audiences at scale. However, with so much more competition, German brands are going to have to work harder to gain cut-through. But what’s the secret to social video success? Well, while creating a viral video may be top of a lot of marketers’ wishlists, actually creating the next VW ‘The Force’ or Edeka ‘Supergeil’ is far from easy. As with any hot marketing trend, it can sometimes be hard separating the facts from the fiction.

So what are the biggest myths around creating a social video hit that will rack up millions of shares online?

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Myth 1: Content has to be funny to be Internet famous

Humour is undoubtedly one of the most effective emotional triggers in social video advertising. After all, everyone loves to laugh. The problem is, too many brands try to be funny and fail. Different people find different things funny – plus humour doesn’t always translate across borders. It’s also the most overused emotional trigger, making it harder to stand out from the crowd.

We recommend you look at invoking emotions other than humour. The most common emotional sharing triggers in Germany are happiness and exhilaration, not hilarity, while happiness is the most common sharing trigger worldwide. When used effectively, they can be just as successful as a funny ad.

Advertisers also tend to overlook the importance of giving viewers a reason to share their content. So always consider what the social motivations are to share your ad online. This also differs worldwide: in the UK, the most common reason is to recommend a product or service; in Germany, it’s to start a conversation.

Myth 2: Good content will rise to the surface

This is one of the biggest mistakes brands make when they’re launching a video online, the idea that if it’s good content it will somehow rise to the surface – it will go viral. It doesn’t work like that now. With 300 hours of content uploaded to YouTube every minute, it’s hard to get noticed. This is why it’s more important than ever before for brands to have a smart distribution strategy in place.

Your distribution strategy is just as important as your content strategy. For example, the average German ad attracts 39% of its total shares within the first three days of launch, so it’s absolutely crucial for advertisers to go big at the start of a campaign. It¹s also important for marketers to think outside of YouTube, which means other video platforms and sites within the Open Web or the blogosphere, as YouTube only accounted for 25.5% of German online video views by the end of 2014.**

Myth 3: You can’t predict viral success

There’s a long-held myth in the ad industry that virality is unpredictable. That’s just a cop-out. Big data is now available, enabling businesses to run regressional analysis across massive data sets. There are also volumes of academic research that can help identify robustly what those sharing metrics and variables are.

So you can definitely predict a viral hit – for example, we do it here at video ad tech company Unruly with our Unruly ShareRank algorithm. We have 80% success in predicting virality on our global algorithm and 90% success on our local algorithms. This means brands can operationalise success. Rather than have a one-off hit and wonder how, you can understand precisely why your content has been successful and build on that for the next time around.

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* Source: Unruly Analytics, 52 w/e 30th April 2015 vs. 52 w/e 30th April 2014

Martin Dräger is Managing Director of Unruly Germany. This article was originally published in the BOBCM DACH Region Edition (2015) co-edited by Sandra Freisinger-Heinl and Greta MacFarlane.


About the author

Martin Dräger is Managing Director of Unruly Germany