Want Your Video Ads to Go Viral? Stop Trying to be Funny [Report]

If advertisers want their video ads to go viral they need to stop trying to be funny, according to new research published today by Unruly.

Unruly's Science of Sharing white paper, which gives brands and agencies actionable insights on how they can maximize their online video campaigns, found the two most popular ads from this year's Super Bowl attracted the most shares on Facebook, Twitter and the blogosphere because they did not try to make people laugh.

The report also found that Wednesday was the optimum day to release a new campaign across the social web based on average daily share rates.

The key findings of the report were:

  • Wednesday is the best day to launch a campaign. This is based on two factors: First, 48.3 percent of the weekly video shares occur between Wednesday and Friday, with the peak of shares occurring on a Friday and the lowest point being the weekend. Second, a quarter of a video's total shares on average occur in the first three days of launch;
  • Humor is very subjective and brands need to be extremely funnyto impress consumers worn down by a glut of ads which try to be funny (and usually are not). The two most popular ads from this year's Super Bowl attracted the most shares on Facebook, Twitter and the blogosphere because they evoked a different set of emotional triggers from the rest;
  • Ads must also give viewers a strong reason to share – and ideally more than one emotional trigger - to generate earned shares and views. Ads that offered weak social motivations, even when paired with strong psychological responses from viewers, had very low share rates;
  • Year-on-year sharing of Super Bowl ads grew by 118 percent from 2012 to 2013, with Super Bowl teasers and ads generating 7,739,917 shares in 2013, up from 3,546,560 shares in 2012.

"For brands looking to optimize their chances of viral success, the video really needs to reach a critical mass of viewers within the first 24 hours of its launch," said Sarah Wood, co-founder and COO of Unruly.

"Creating shareable content is half the challenge; it's equally important to get the ad seen by the right audiences, where consumers are discovering and sharing video content in their native environments. With social video, brands can win fast and lose fast, so it's important to optimize the launch date for 'shareability' and get content trending quickly across the right distribution channels," continued Wood.

The report analyzed 12 commercials from Super Bowl XLVII, which aired on February 3, 2013, to uncover why some ads performed well online while others did not. The ads involved in the study were from the automotive, CPG/FMCG, entertainment, and technology sectors.

The most shared ads from Super Bowl XLVII evoked intense emotional responses, including warmth, happiness, awe and pride. These ads also offered strong reasons for people to share. These include "reaction seeking" and the desire for others to feel the same way about the ad's content.

The least shared ads triggered low levels of hilarity and surprise, and didn't resonate with audiences. These ads also caused viewer confusion.

The chart below illustrates the intensity of two of the key factors in an ad's "shareability" – psychological responses and social motivations.

unruly-science-of-sharing

The strongest ad was Budweiser's "Brotherhood" .

The second strongest ad was Ram Trucks' "Farmer" .

Both ads elicited intense psychological responses and strong motivations to share.

Visit Unruly White Papers to download the full report.