YouTube and Viral Marketing

YouTube captures the marketer's imagination: a huge number of eyeballs, a perfect medium for communicating messages of any length, and a user base that is nanoseconds away from your store. Indeed, it is this last piece that makes it so compelling for direct marketers, where TV ads historically prove problematic to traditional catalogers. But we live in a TIVO society. Businesses are being built around the desire of many to avoid advertisements. How do we get consumers to voluntarily watch a commercial? Involvement is the critical piece. One mechanism: Make it so funny that people pass it around to their friends, a la the Bud Light "Real Men of Genius" series, which have translated into hundreds of thousands of "free" impressions. However, this is a branding play, and as much as I enjoy the spot, I'm not sure it makes me any more likely to buy Bud Light. 1-800 Flowers is trying another approach. The idea? Have people send in their own "How we fell in love, story" for Valentines Day, the winning entries get a prize. The notion of creating an involvement mechanism is great, and I'm hoping that someone will be kind enough to share some insights as to how well this "worked" for them and what they learned from the experience. We also believe that instructional videos will be a powerful medium for getting the message out to potential customers. Our friends at Crutchfield have put out shopping guides for HDTVs and Car Stereo installation guides. We think Zales could put out video guides for selecting the perfect engagement ring. The potential for extracting value from this new medium is there. It will be fascinating to watch it evolve as we all try to figure out how to make it work for us. Ideas welcomed!
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