Posts Tagged ‘brand engagement

11
May
09

Engagement vs Advertising: the key decision in your viral marketing campaign

When planning a viral campaign, you’ve got to decide on a balance between your messaging being focused on what I see as ‘Advertising’ vs ‘Engaging’. Advertising vs Engagement are not necessarily mutually exclusive measures – they fit more on a sliding scale:

1 – the pure Advertising approach jams a marketing message down consumer throats. Marketers usually feel inclined to use this sort of messaging to ensure whatever attention their (hopefully) viral campaigns get leads directly to consumption of the marketing message they are communicating. The Advertising approach means that your brand message is clear, but it may limit the reach of your viral campaign, because let’s face it, ads have never been among any of the big time viral videos. People don’t usually spread content that is obviously advertising.

2 – the Engagement approach is different in that it focuses first and foremost on the content, making sure that whatever content is featured in your (hopefully) viral campaign is clever / inspiring / controversial enough to ensure a large number of people will pass it on to others. It is about engaging some sort of emotional response from a significant enough proportion of the public to reach that viral tipping point so that you start to get hundreds of thousands of views rather than thousands. However, the greater the viral ‘infectiousness’ (i just made that word up!) of your campaign, the lower the opportunity for brand messaging and the greater the potential for confusion.

To illustrate, let’s take 2 similar viral campaigns, both based on a similar idea of creating short films to attract people to consume campaign assets. The first campaign is the recent http://Chromeshorts.com efforts by Google, and the second being one of my alltime favourite online campaigns, Zune Arts (about 2 years old now, still going strong). The difference between the Advertising vs Engagement approach is well illustrated by these two campaigns – Google seem to have gone the ‘Advertising’ route, whilst Zune have gone the ‘Engagement’ route. Looking at some of the Google videos, the ‘short films’ are not really short film, rather they are just a nifty little ad (see example below). This is fine, but I can’t see myself passing this around to friends (except of course to discuss here why the content is not necessarily suited to a viral campaign). The content’s just not interesting enough.

The Zune Arts campaign, however, had me browsing the site for 45 minutes the first time I visited –  the content is so rich and immediately engages the audience (see the second video below for example). I’ve also been back for multiple visits, and have shown a number of other people. However, I left the site none the wiser about Zune’s product features / value proposition (I wasn’t even shown a product shot in any of the short movies). The content was cute and I liked the Zune brand all the more for providing it, but I still own an iPod…

One of the Google Chrome ‘Chrome Shorts’ vids

One of the Zune-Arts.net vids

I’m interested to hear if anyone has examples of viral campaigns that they feel have struck a really strong combination of Advertising vs. Engagement. I invite you to leave your comments below…




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