I really like the eMarketer.com newsletter, it’s one of the few that I receive that I read every day. It’s well formatted, has bite-sized info, presents useful and relevant stats, and gets most of what I want to see above the fold. One of today’s articles was lauding the success of viral video, but unlike typical articles from them, I felt this contains some questionable statistics. Let’s start with a few quotes:
Next to ‘cool microsites’ and games, viral video is hot.
Video clips got generally good reviews from marketers, with about three in 10 saying they yielded great results, and just 13% admitting their results were dismal.
If you see the fine print, n=2914 “experienced viral marketers”. At 30% we have about 1000 viral videos of which their marketeers claim “great success.”
I’m either living in a hole or I have a different definition of the adjective great. Why do I say this? Well, how about you count the number of “viral videos” you’ve seen that you’d attribute to companies. Remember, if it’s in this category it cannot include a commercial that aired on TV, nor can it be a clip like “Lazy Sunday”. I am surprised if anyone’s list exceeds their count of fingers + toes.
My hunch, and I’m up to hear a counterargument on this, is that the surveyed marketeers are answering this way because it is trendy. Survey bias exists fairly commonly in most segments, but even more so in a field dominated by follow-the-leader activities. And marketing folks are especially predisposed to report on the success of their activities. This is especially interesting in light of…
But what are the chances of a video actually going viral? According to an Online Publishers Association (OPA) survey, not that high.
Now I’d prefer if this data was less than a year old, as it was in February 2006 when YouTube’s activities began spiking (again, thanks to Lazy Sunday – I sure hope Chad sent a big bagfull of money to Andy Samberg). My hunch is there’s a lot more forwarding going on than there used to be. Of course, there’s a lot more Portland ice storms and people getting haircuts than there are commercially-driven “great success” viral videos.