Unruly 2014 viral video report: Oliver Smith talks online sharing and viral videos

Liam Ward-Proud
Brands need to think about the reasons that people would share content, says Oliver Smith
Marketing tech firm Unruly has released its 2014 viral video report. Its Europe, Middle East and Africa managing director Oliver Smith talks about the key trends to watch.
Activa, Fox and Nike – the three brands with the most-shared video ads of 2014, according to Unruly. And while you might think these firms’ marketing strategies have little in common, Unruly’s Oliver Smith says that shareable ads tend to adhere to a set of key principles; you don’t get 5,819,822 shares (as Activia’s La La La video did) by accident. So why do people share online, and how is the video landscape changing? Smith reveals all to City A.M.
If you had to pick one theme that’s stood out from 2014, what would it be?
The big one is that video is not all about YouTube. According to comScore, 25 per cent of video views globally come through YouTube or YouTube-embedded players. That’s still a big opportunity, but 75 per cent of video views coming from the open web is really quite extraordinary, and it’s trending even further in that direction.
What does that mean for marketers?
You have to think about the audience first, and the platform second. The proliferation began last year with the likes of Vine, Instagram videos and others coming to the fore, and it’s continued this year with Facebook coming into the market pretty strongly. Marketers have to think beyond YouTube videos.
A few World Cup-themed ads scored highly on your 2014 rankings. Why?
It’s such a marquee event – very zeitgeist, as we say. Being timely is a huge driver of sharing behaviour, so if brands are able to capture the “water cooler moment” people are talking about, they can get lots of traction with it.
What could brands do to improve the shareability of their content?
Most creative shops are pretty good at getting the emotional intensity right – the general quality of TV ads is strong. But the online video opportunity requires quite a different approach, otherwise you’re just going to get drowned out.
The big thing that people could do more is to think about why people want to share the videos online, having seen them. The emotional side is often right, but actually providing reasons for people to share something is probably the most important single thing an advertiser can do.
Why do people share things online?
The zeitgeist idea is obviously one thing (it has to be timely), but there’s also social good (I would pass this on because it’s for a good cause and I want to show my support), self-expression (it says something about me), and shared passion (I love this particular piece of content and I know that my friends do too). These crucial factors can actually be baked-in to the creative brief from the start of the process.
What should we expect from social media marketing in 2015?
Sticking with the content theme, aiming for what’s being called “valuable virality” will become more prevalent next year. It’s about creating content that’s not just intrinsically shareable and relevant to the target audience, but also highly in tune with a brand’s values. It has to be authentically in line with what the brand stands for.
There will also be a standardisation of standards. Video sharing is evolving so fast that everybody is scrambling to get standard definitions of viewability. I think we should see this starting to get cleaned up next year.

Related articles