Measuring Virability

Being in the brand activation industry, we often have to hear skeptical remarks from brand managers about how putting money into brand activation is like shooting in the dark. Our usual response is that it is difficult to put a success criteria on any form of marketing efforts done through any other approach to marketing communications.

Multinational brands use tracking metrics to measure top of mind awareness and other brand health indicators to track how each marketing campaign helps in improving the overall brand. But ofcourse those measures are long term metrics (especially for established brands) and their effects cannot be measured for focused or tactical campaigns. Nevertheless, the CDF analysis used by Pakistan Tobacco Company or ATP used by Unilever and Engro Foods is the only data available to a brand manager to help them make calls.

In terms of viral campaigns, measurement becomes a little easier if the mediums used are trackable (mostly interactive media) but since the concept is so new, there are no benchmarks available to tell us how successful the campaign really was. Focus groups and TOM trackers can help here too but not just in isolation.

Recently working for the biggest ice cream brand in the country, we were faced with a similar question. But rather than give an answer shrouded in obscurity, we suggested a couple of models, which would at least give some meaning to the marketing buck spent on the campaign.

  • Content Relevance

o The more relevant the content for your particular target market, the better the response. Forwardability increases if you make the group think that they are part of something big and as a group their chances of standing out in other groups is big.

o Shock value of content. Unless the content is interesting or challenges the way you think, people would never forward it. Your consumers would never want to look like losers in the eyes of their friends by forwarding something lame.

  • · Media Relevance

o Is your seeding strategy relevant to the target market

o Media habits: Do consumers subscribe to highly viral media like cell phones, email. For example there is a vast difference between youth media which is more viral than media for middle aged consumers whose viral media habits are centered around group meetings

  • · Reliability and Redundancies of Media

o Where is the news posted? Is it coming from a random source or from a trusted friend. Skepticism in consumers is on all time high. They would tune out everything that comes from unknown sources.

o Reliability of news increases with redundancies. If the consumer sees the same news on 5 different channels, the trust level increases each time. It is something that I call media herding. If you cant get BBC to show your story, replicate the story on smaller local channels and soon they would have generated the same amount of trust as the bigger channels.

For each of these measures there needs to be an index with weight assignments and then they need to be benchmarked against the most successful viral campaigns of the category.

Also a large part of a viral campaign is beyond any form of calculation but can still give a huge tilt to measuring whether the campaign was successful. These can be attributed to behavioral changes in the society brought about by the campaign (for example the tilt toward more clubbing because of the Axe effect campaigns). The manifestations of these changes in society are almost always first observed in the press. If your campaigns, versions of it or the concept of your campaign start getting free PR mileage then I feel that you have hit the bulls eye with your viral campaign. The press is the most potent barometer to judge the success of a viral campaign. The Just in Time mechanism of the press to dynamically capture a trend in the market will always tell you whether your campaign has moved the consumers.

I think that if you wan to judge the priorities of a nation you should observe the press of that nation and it will tell you instantly what is playing on the minds of the people. Always ready to pounce on the news that would stir the public, the press plays on the basic instincts of a nation’s psyche. So if you have made it to the news, it should give you a clear signal about the strength of your campaign.

Another model to judge the monetary returns to your campaign is benchmark against media which already has some form of measurability built into them. Tradional media is measured in terms of Cost per Contact (CPC) which in turn in measured through a model of GRP’s. In order to work this model out you need to figure out how much would it cost you to get the kind of response that you get from virals if you actually activated through traditional mediums. For example, how much money would you have to spend to get a consumer to buy into the idea of a video and generate enough likeability that he/she actually decides to talk and share it with her/his friends. Traditional mediums have a much harder job to get consumers to act since their nature is so passive. So watching an ad once, will not get them that bang, plus they will have to go through multiple channels to make the consumers realize the importance of the message. Adding up all those efforts of traditional mediums would tell you how much buzz value in terms of rupees you got from a single viral. So for example the amount you would have to pay a Dawn reporter to get the story of Olwell into the press would tell you the opportunity cost of doing a viral that gets free publicity in Dawn.

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~ by illuxon on June 21, 2007.

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