Digital Lead, Asia Pacific at Ogilvy
30 August 2001 09:18am
Does anyone have any good examples of Viral Campaigns - the holy grail of bright eyed and bushy tailed marketers? Are they futile or virile? I love them. Please post your examples here…
I have recently been involved with two successful campaigns to promote the films “Swordfish” and “Cats and Dogs”. As there has been a lot of recent debate on the effectiveness of viral marketing and the ROI, I thought I should share a few of my conclusions, to fuel further debate.
It is not necessary, but if you would like to view the applications:
For Swordfish the following e-mail was distributed:
“Only a handful of hackers in the world can hack in to the Swordfish system and get out quick enough to access the prize-fund.
I believe you have 60 seconds. If you want the reward - FIND IT.
To accept the challenge, go to http://www.warnerbros.co.uk/web/movies/operationswordfish/game/index.jsp “
For Cats and dogs the following e mail was distributed:
“The stability of the world is under threat from those feline and canine pets that we think of lovingly as "friends"...
Based on the game paper, scissors, stone we have developed the supreme challenge to enable you - cuckold - to bowwow or meooow your way to success - and possibly a trip to LA.
"The puppy won't survive the night...." - unless you take up the: www.catsanddogschallenge.co.uk
If you view the applications you will see how we approached each campaign differently, how each demanded slightly more or less of the user at different stages of the game.
Both campaigns tried to:
a) Incentivise people to play with a prize of a holiday (one to Spain and the other to LA)
b) Tried to be compelling and fun
c) Represent the qualities of the films
d) Stay within relatively “safe” confines so as not to “rock the boat”
e) Achieve viral distribution
We wanted people to:
a) Send it on to other people (in a way that gave us the opportunity to monitor how many times it was sent on)
b) Get a good insight into the film through the viral application
c) Visit the web site (which was displayed at the end of the challenge)
d) Have the opportunity to sign-up to our database
e) Enter the competition
- and all of these objectives were measurable… however, the ultimate objective – to get “bums on seats” (people in cinemas) – still evaded any calculation of ROI.
Roughly 10% of the initial mailings responded. Many of these respondents played the applications up to 10 times, and roughly 20% forwarded the applications on. A similar percentage of these also sent it on again. 40% of people registered some details, a smaller number wanted more info, (however, we were not explicit about what info we might send people). We received entries from every corner of the globe (the initial database was only UK) – and we continue to get entries long after the initial mail-out.
I drew the following very simple conclusions:
a) Keep the objective very clear and simple. Do not try to achieve multiple objectives (e.g. data capture, viral spread, and visits to a web-site)
b) Give the user as few opportunities as possible to “EXIT” (don’t ask too many questions, or require too many different types of action)
c) Choose your initial database very carefully. The method of dissemination and the message that carries it is vital to the spread of a virus…
d) Personal recommendation is a very powerful tool – look to exploit this
e) ROI on viral campaigns is not as good as traditional promotions… but the quality of “User” engagement (if you get my drift) is far stronger – they are deeply involved with the property
f) Consider making the viral tool an integral part of the web-site – rather than a stand alone element. It’s more innocent. People don’t feel as if they’re being hoodwinked.
g) Keep the applications light. 56k modems are still the most common way to access the internet. Firewalls are also true barriers to fun.
h) Measure everything – or you learn nothing
Commercial Viral campaigns – like designer illnesses – can lack the conviction and potency of more natural events unless they are very carefully distributed, (remember the viral spread of Claire Swire’s unfortunate opinion…?) However, they are by no means a lesser form or less effective.
Both AI (Speilberg’s new film) and Swordfish had incredibly complex – and superbly successful - viral online strategies, to draw people to the sites. These campaigns were part of integrated, rather than stand-alone, activity. Over a long period of time chat sites were seeded, communities were formed and people naturally found networks of internet sites that built a “myth” around the films. I think there are two points well worth taking on board:
1. If you convince yourself that the viral element you have created is compelling … spend time preparing its flight around the world.
2. Viral activity as part of an integrated campaign can add unique qualities (getting bums on seats?) that other marketing cannot achieve, but in terms of the value they add to the ROI they are still hard to quantify.
Should Viral campaigns have “incentives” like prizes – or should they be compelling enough without?
Is data capture a legitimate objective within a true viral capaign? (perhaps make it an option for users?)
I’m very interested in other viral activity, please post any interesting examples.
Business Development Manager at The Hub
14 September 2001 17:08pm
Lastminute.com's flirt test was one of the simplest interfaces yet spread like wild fire...registrations galore.
The simplest way to track ROI is to set up a simple mechanic in the structure of the viral.
My company recently did a microsite with ecards which collected the email addresss's of the senders aswell as the recipients (all DP Act compliant - as you would expect!)
Once you have the users attention you can seed further response, build the relationship and have very accurate ROI reporting.
Viral is an extension to your CRM strategy, it should not be seen exclusively as a PR function in my opinion.
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