In a first-mover play reminiscent of the one it pulled off with TV optimization in the mid-1990s, VivaKi has struck a deal giving all its agencies exclusive access to a new "earned media"
optimization system for one year. The system, which was developed in conjunction with viral video tracker Visible Measures, uses predictive modeling technique based on learning from more than
12,000 online video campaigns Visible Measures has managed for a variety of big advertisers and agencies since it began tracking them in 2008 with a campaign for Starcom MediaVest Group client Procter
& Gamble's Tide To Go brand.
“When I came over to the States my focus was on how to make television better,” recalls SMG global research
chief Kate Sirkin, a native Brit who struck the first agency deal with Nielsen to license the respondent-level audience data necessary for modern day TV optimization systems. Sirkin likens the Visible
Measures deal to SMG's Nielsen TV optimization deal, because it gives VivaKi a one-year exclusivity versus other agencies. She would not disclose how much VivaKi is paying Visible Measures, but unlike
the Nielsen deal, she said it’s not in the seven-figure range.
Whatever VivaKi is paying, Sirkin says it’s worth it, because it gives SMG agencies and their
clients similar scientific rigor to plan earned media the way they do with paid media.
“When we started to think about earned media in video, there was a huge gap
for our planners to plan it strategically,” she says, noting: “It was thought of as the icing on the cake. If it was good, it was good. If it was bad, it wasn’t part of the main
thing that we were doing. What we’re doing with Contagion is really planning earned strategically, and being able to optimize it the way we plan and optimize other media.”
Contagion is the name of the system Visible Measures developed for VivaKi, and which it will eventually make available to other agencies and advertisers. According to Visible
Measures’ Chief Analytics Officer Seraj Bharwani, it is just as scientific as any models used to plan the outcome of television or other media, because it is based on data provent to generate
specific outcomes among social media users who share video content.
That said, he says there is also some “art” to using it, and one of the values of
Contagion is that it is based on an easy-to-use dashboard concept enabling planners and buyers to run various scenario mixes to project various outcomes.
planning for predictable media you buy a bunch of impressions and you level-load it across TV, or portals or search buys, and it's predictable in the sense that you bought it across time period and it
delivers what it delivers,” he says, adding that has not been the case with video campaigns distributed via social media, because “in this particular case, you have no control over that,
because a significant amount of what is earned media is in the control of the consumer. They’re the ones that want to talk about it and share it. And the brands feel like it’s out of their
The only way to regain control, he says, is to model data based on consumer behavior to predict what kinds of video are most likely to yield various
earned media returns. In general, he says Contagion is based on three “blocks” of logic Visible Measures has gleaned over the past five years.
block is “the creative itself,” he says, noting that specific forms of brand content has been proven to generate specific results. While there are outliers such as Red Bull’s
“Stratos” campaign, he says they are generally on the upside, not the downside, and that the creative of most online video campaigns can be projected within a predictable range.
The second block, he says, is based on the publishing content the brand’s video content is associated with. If it’s a big, viral-oriented event such as the Super
Bowl, or the Oscars, he says that association has a predictable impact on the earned media potential of the campaign.
“The final block is your paid media,”
Bharwani says, explaining that the mix of media used to support socially-distributed video campaigns -- whether it is big-budget network TV shows such as “American Idol” or
“long-tail” properties such as YouTube -- has a significant bearing on their success.
By modeling those three blocks, Bharwani claims Contagion can
plan the earned media contribution of an online video campaign within a “15% to 20% deviation.”
“That’s for a reasonably good campaign,” he
says, adding: “Once in awhile, you’ll have a shocker. Red Bull was one of those, because we had nothing to compare it to.”