Viral's Not For Just Anyone: 50% In Survey Rate It Fad For The Lucky Few

You say you want an Evolution? Viral marketing may be on the lips of a lot of media people, but it's not something just any marketer can pull off.

That's the opinion of MediaPost readers based on a survey conducted by Dynamic Logic asking respondents to rate the fad factor for viral on a scale of 1-10 where 1 means it's a fad for the lucky few to 10 meaning it's for the mainstream.

A full 50% of the 1,039 survey respondents rated viral on the fad side of the equation. Only 24% ranked it as something that constitutes an option for all.

"Clearly there are a lot of people who think viral's more a fad than something everyone can do," said Nick Nyhan, founder of Dynamic Logic.

"What it means is a lot of people are asking for viral campaigns because they see a lot of free reach and the creators getting a lot of PR. There's a lot of desire to do it, but viral is dependent on something big, outrageous or new. Dove already did 'Evolution.' How many more can do it now?



"It's hard for everybody to be outrageous, new and funny," Nyhan added. "That doesn't mean you shouldn't try, but it's not appropriate for many marketers."

"Evolution," said Nyhan, was based on a big idea. The widely disseminated video consisted of rapid-action footage showing the drastic steps in the evolution of a naturally beautiful woman into a flawless billboard model. "It's not about the technology. It's about the idea," he said.

This ties in with another finding of the survey. Agencies still matter.

In a world of automated content and spot creation, with user-generated content gone wild, nearly 40% of survey respondents said agencies are more relevant than ever.

It makes sense, said Nyhan, for if marketers are looking for ideas with the power to take off virally, they need to get them from somebody.

Overall, respondents were positive about the state of online creative. Nearly 24% rated online creative quality as much improved recently, and 60% rated it a little better.

Nyhan attributes this to the increase in rich media and video as well as bigger-sized ad units themselves. The trend toward larger ads and reduced clutter has opened the door to better creative.

"Budgets are getting bigger and people are getting excited about it," Nyhan said. "Creative agencies are playing a more important role in online."

As for buzzwords, roughly half the participants said they had at least one term they wish the industry would retire.

Leading the list was Web 2.0, followed closely by engagement. Perhaps in keeping with the speed associated with the name, viral is already on the list.

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