The Science of Sharing - Making the Most of Your Video Assets


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This research and data-driven session will show you how to predict earned media and sharing before a video asset has gone live. Learn about the top psychological responses proven to impact sharing (hint – there are 18) and debunk some of the most common content myths surrounding video advertising, including which creative devices are the most effective, if overt branding affects sharing, and whether content or distribution is truly “king” when launching a viral hit.

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  • Video sharing is exploding. This graphic shows the shares for the top 3 branded social videos of each year. As you can see, video sharing is growing exponentially with the top 3 videos from 2006 earning 1.6 million shares … growing to over 11 million shares Year to Date for the top 3 videos in 2013. And, these numbers are based on shares today. The internet lives forever - when we first created this chart in 2010, the top 3 videos from 2006 had only 200,000 views among the set.More content is created now than ever before - there are 100 hours of content uploaded to YouTube every minute. Marc Zuckerburg has a law of sharing that states that our sharing capacity doubles every year. So if you’re tweeting 2x a month right now, a year from now you’ll be tweeting at least 4x each month. People LOVE to share contentEspecially video content: 1 million YT URLs are tweeted daily and 4 billion bits of video are shared on Facebook every day. With the growing number of social platforms and the proliferation of devices, this content is getting shared across the social web faster than ever before. Consumers spend about 20% of their time online watching video – and it isn’t just cats and babies. It’s ads. In fact, 75% of ad agency executives say that online video ads are more effective than traditional TV ads - and also more effective than direct response and display ads.Which is why online video is the fastest growing ad format, up 30% in last year alone… Expectated to grow over 40% this year. (eMarketer)We’ll talk a lot about shares today – we already have. At Unruly, we track views like everyone else, but we really focus on shares. Shares are the earned media online video campaigns generate. Shares are the currency of social. Like hyperlinks are the currency of search.Sharing is a viewer action – and are a recommendation or a referral. They’re e-Word of Mouth. This is advocacy in the social web. Which Nielsen has shown to be the most trusted form of advertising. And McKinsey has shown to increase purchase likelihood up to 50x more than watching a passive ad on TV or at a computer. It’s an opt-in view – once a user has chosen to watch an ad (or any video), they are instantly more engaged with your content.Social Video is online video content that gets people talking, and sharing.
  • Would you like to make an ad like this - the most shared ad EVER?
  • Or this, the most shared ad created this year?
  • If you’re not familiar with any of these ads, they are a must see. And, you can keep up to date on the ads that are trending on the Global Ads Chart on the Unruly Viral Video Chart., available at or through the Mashable website Here you can see that that a prankvertisement for the movie Carrie is topping the Ads chart this week.I’m sharing a few stats here from the Viral Video Chart as this is partially what powers our insights. We have tracked 365 billion video streams since 2006 – which, just to put things into perspective is the year the first tweet was sent and Facebook was still a closed platform for college students. The chart can be sorted by day, week, month year and all time – and is a great resource for marketers wanting to see case studies of best practices. We rank on shares to capture the trending social conversation.Why does sharing matter?
  • When someone watches a video is shared with him or her vs. stumbling across it, they have received e-word of mouth marketing. This referral from a trusted source drives them to continue to seek out information, share the video again, talk about it, and remember the brand. But, the main point that I want to draw your attention to is the increased video enjoyment. This is key. When people enjoy a video, purchase intent rises by 97%. Video sharing drives purchase intent – it pushes consumers farther down the purchase funnel.Drives User action and ROI+28% Talked to someone about it +23% Purchased the product +14% Enjoyment of the video +13% sought out more info + 9% Posted/shared link of the videoVideo enjoyment is key. Shared video  +14% video enjoyment vs. discovering it yourself:+139% Brand association+ 97% Purchase intent+ 35% Brand favorability+ 14% Brand recallIncreases Targeting Social utility: Shares with people with a need or interest Shared passion: shares with people similar to the targetSource: AVERAGES ACROSS 8 DECIPHER BRAND STUDIES NOV 11 – AUG 12; VIEWERS OF SOCIAL VIDEO. Response captured through follow-up survey sent out 3 days after social video viewing (n=742)
  • Here’s a specific example of a decipher study for an auto brand. It shows that social viewers ACT. They continue to interact with your brand, to seek it out, to spread the love, and - BUY.In this ex, 15% visited the dealer showroom, 8% of viewers booked a test drive, and 7% reached out to the car dealerAnd, each share = more opportunities to view. We estimate that every share results in an additional 12-25 opportunities to view.
  • So, how to make sure your branded content earns those all important shares? And, have a sense of the earned media your content will receive as you determine your distribution budget?We launched Unruly ShareRank at the beginning of this year.Predictive tool Launched a study 24 months ago and studied 1,000 videos, with a 60/40 split between user generated and branded content. We had a lot of insight already from seeing the videos that trend on the viral video chart – and we developed a number of hypotheses that we tested against the actual share data. Have learned what affects shareability – and more importantly, how to use that knowledge to make content more shareable and capture that earned media, and all the benefits that go along with it.The Unruly ShareRank algorithm is complex. The 100+ variables factored in includes those mentioned here, and many more. This is a living, breathing, growing tool that gets smarter with each new test. We are 80% accurate.
  • Two of the most significant drivers of shareability are the intensity of the psychological response elicited in the viewer, and the strength of the motivation they have to share. That is, you need to make your viewers feel something STRONGLY, and give them reasons to share – and hopefully multiple reasons.To answer the questions raised earlier – so long as you achieve these 2 key factors, video length doesn’t matter, brand presence doesn’t affect sharing – so advertisers should feel free to brand away! – and celebrity can amplify a strong creative, but it won’t save a spot that doesn’t elicit strong psychological responses and strong social motivations.
  • We’ve identified 18 key psychological responses that drive video sharing. So for advertisers, the trick really is to do a Daniel Day Lewis and hit one of these emotions really hard, and create an emotional response with the viewer. “Hilarity” is the most common trigger in US advertising. And we have a glut of funny ads. While a powerful trigger, unless an advertiser can create an incredibly funny ad, a laugh out loud funny ad, this emotional trigger isn’t going to help win shares.Dr. Karen Nelson Field at the Ehrenberg Bass Institute for Marketing Sciences is one of our academic partners. Her research found that hilarity is the most used trigger but is also the one which fails the most. Humor is tough for a few reasons: a creative idea which started off being hilarious will via rounds of input and sign off, be watered down to amusing or less, simply boring. Hilarity is also most difficult emotion to harness across multiple markets because humor doesn’t necessarily translate across cultures.As we dive into the Super Bowl ads, we’ll see that ads that deviate from the “funny” norm get cut through and won the most shares. Working other responses – and we’ve identified 17 additional triggers – will help an ad stand out from the crowd and get noticed. Just remember to pack an emotional punch.NOTES ON SOCIAL MOTIVATIONS IF YOU NEED (Now that the score card image is killed)We have identified 9 social motivations, or reasons people share, in the social space. People share due to a shared passion – a common interest amongst a group of friends.Or, to be social in real life. If we were to have plans to see a movie tonight, I might send the trailer your way to say, this looks good, want to catch this?Social Utility is popular – it shows that someone thinks a friend or relative will find the video useful and important and sends it their wayPeople love to share videos for a social good and promote good causes. Most commonly used for charities and organizations, i’s a very potent motivationPeople share to take part in the zeitgeist ; and for Kudos, to demonstrate that they’re a cool early adopter or an expertWe share to seek attention and get reactions, to extend our personal brand and to share the feeling we got from a video so that others can experience the same reactionWe’ve found that many advertisers find success by layering on the reasons people might want to share. Look at it as hedging your bets, or giving yourself a Plan B, C, D and even E.This is another reason sharing is important – people share with groups known to care about the topic. They’re taking a brand’s targeting to a whole new, granular level – reaching out – and advocating for your brand – to individuals known to have an interest in or a purchase need
  • Share 5 tips for successful social video
  • . Creating highly shareable content is all about eliciting the strongest possible emotional responses from your audience.Videos which elicit strong emotions from its audience, regardless of whether it’s positive or negative, are twice as likely to be shared than those which elicit a weak emotional response.Funny is not enough, only hilarious will do. Happiness is OK, but we all want to be exhilarated. Fact: Video which elicit strong emotions are twice as likely to be sharedExample: Dove Real Beauty Sketches
  • Every social video commentator has an opinion on what type of creative device gets shared the most. In nearly every article, book or blog we see some insight about the success of animals, cute babies or dancing.And while this commentary is not wrong our results suggest that it is not entirely correct either. Sub coded 800 of our videos by 14 types of creative deviceThe truth is most creative devices can be successful and non-successful (in terms of shares) and can equally incite high and low arousal. So the presence of an animal, celebrity or even a baby does not guarantee success. This is not to say device has NO effect, just a lesser effect compared to arousal   Personal triumph is an exception!It shares significantly more than all other devices even when it it is Low Arousal – and is the best predictor of sharing among any other device.Yet interestingly it is rarely used. Only 3% of all 800 videos were personal triumph.But not all brands can include personal triumph in their creative – hard to have a triumphant ad about toilet tissue!SO creators should worry less about whether the video content contains a baby, a dog or a celebrity, and instead invest in pre-testing to ensure the material makes the viewer laugh or gasp or get goose bumps.Exhilaration can make a lasting impressionEliciting a strong, positive emotional reaction will not only give your campaign additional reach, it will also help your audience remember you.But which positive emotion is the most likely to help cut through the clutter and help your viewers recall your message? Well, at the individual emotion level, Exhilaration is the most successful, with Hilarity second. Box out fact: Videos that elicit high arousal emotions cut through the clutter and are remembered the most. Exhilaration is the most successful trigger. 65% of all “exhilarating” videos tested were recalled, while “hilarity” was a close second with 51% recall.Example: GoPro Hero 3 - 546% uplift in brand favourability and a 383% uplift in purchase intent
  • This is where most video marketers have a tough time. Trying to make content seem organic and minimizing brand presence. This is only hurting your ad’s effectiveness. Research has shown that brand presence and prevalence has NO effect on video sharing. So, brand away! Once you’ve invested the time and budget in video, you want to make sure the viewer attributes the video to your brand and product. It’s worse if they don’t know where the content came from, or worse, attribute it to your competitor!Average branded video takes :30 seconds for brand reveal- That’s a FULL standard TV spotDoes the level of branding within a video put people off sharing?  Many marketers think so.Redbull is a good example of this – they advocate a ‘low profile approach’ based on the premise that obvious branding hampers sharing success.Plus in most of the social video books available on the market we are told this to be the case. My favourite one:“If you are trying to advertise via viral, dial down the marketing”Well this is getting through. We sub coded all branded videos by objective measures of brand execution such to find thaton average the brand doesn’t even enter the video frame until after one-third the way through and exposure frequency is one third of the number of times as TV commercial.YET we found absolutely NO evidence to support that branding hampers sharing.No relationship between sharing and branding, no differences in shares in high or low branding. And interestingly HaP videos display more branding than any other, yet are still shared the most.On the flip side there is plenty of evidence that poorly branded advertising is ineffective – like throwing away money.I question the value of a social video if it cannot be correctly attributed to the brand or worse misattributed to the competitor. Phil – the two stills you can see above relate to 2 bits of recent branded content – one of which is the hugely successful P&G Mums campaign which ran around the Olympics. P&G were clever as they played on the emotional trigger of moving and also Zeitgeist, it being the Olympics. In fact we saw a lot of moving content in 2012 , starting with Kony 2012 and then into this. However – during subsequent research, Unruly found that although the P&G Mums content delivered millions of views and shares, eye tracking consumer panel data showed that audiences didn’t actually know who the advertiser was – because the branding in the video is condensed into a very short window at the end where we wheel through all the sub brands and then finish with the P&G supporter of Mum’s messaging. So on one hand the video was hugely successful but on the other not many consumers got the brand.
  • Whether the content is heartfelt or crudely funny, there’s a clear trend when it comes to length.The most shared ads are getting longer.In 2011, the average length of a Top 10 ad was 2 and a half minutes.In 2012 that rose to 3 mins (and that’s taking out Kony 2012, which was 30 minutes long).The average length of the top 1000 branded videos produced in 2011 was 2 minutes 4 seconds.In 2012, it increased to three minutes 9 seconds.Research has shown that length of video does not affect shareability but it's interesting that brands are tending to produce more longer-form content and clearly feel more comfortable going beyond the traditional 30 seconds of a traditional ad spot. There’s more time to build a narrative...forget 30 seconds.
  • No matter how shareable a video is, a larger viewer base delivers more sharing.Duncan Watts (famed social researcher now at Microsoft) found …Don’t underinvest in distribution and over-invest in creativeIt’s all very well being the best violinist in the world, but if you are playing in your bathroom, no one will ever hear you. The same goes with creating contagious video content. Even if you have the most shareable video in the world, if you start with a small base, the total views will typically be small. In other words, video content needs to be widely viewed in order to simply gain an average amount of sharing. Investing in seeding your campaign across a variety of platforms will make it easier to deliver good sharing metrics.
  • Want to see ShareRank in action? Here’s a ShareRank snapshot on the most highly shared ad from this year’s super bowl. Actual SR report is 30-50 pages long
  • Video sharing takes place quickly.This is Unruly’s social diffusion curve.We plotted the social diffusion for the top 200 branded videos from last year – or the shares each day of the content. The research shows that the first days following a video’s launch are key to both short term and long term success. However you launch your content, front-loading your distribution plans and budgets to maximize shareability in the early days of a campaign leads to long term sharing. This Curve, which measures the average number of shares a video attracts across the social web throughout its lifetime, also found that the ‘viral peak’ of a brand’s video campaign occurs on the second day, when the average online ad will attract one in 10 of its total shares across the social web, and earn ¼ of its shares within the first 3 days.
  • Back to the Budweiser example:This is the day by day sharing for the top 5 Super Bowl Videos – January 27th to February 15.You can see here that one of the secrets to the success of the Budweiser ad is that it achieved 2 viral peaks. It launched prior to the super bowl and achieved its first viral peak, with a second following the publicity it received during the Super Bowl broadcast. As Zeitgeist is a key US social motivation, additional publicity triggers additional sharing.
  • The full science of sharing white paper and our new Super Bowl Playbook for content creation can be downloaded from
  • Getting your timing right includes the day you launch your video. Outside of a huge media event, like the Super Bowl, our examination of the most shared videos of the past year using the Unruly Viral Video Chart showed that Wed, Thu and Friday are the top days for sharing online video. So, you can give your ad an edge by launching on a Wednesday also having the all-important first 3 days of the campaign coincide with the days of the week with the highest levels of sharing activity.
  • The Science of Sharing - Making the Most of Your Video Assets

    1. The Science of Sharing Making the most of your video assets Mediapost Video Insider Summit 10.25.13
    2. Explosion of Sharing Ads make up 25% of all video views Source: Unruly Viral Video Chart, 2013 data January – October 2013 so far 11.3m
    3. Hoping for the next viral hit?
    4. Volkswagen “The Force” Views: 66,611,439 Shares: 5,577,327
    5. Dove Real Beauty Sketches Views: 124,386,830 Shares: 4,154,916
    6. Tracking Sharing Activity Unruly’s Viral Video Chart Launched in 2006 365 billion+ video streams tracked Ranks videos by shares as well as views “the Billboard Hot 100 of our generation” –
    7. Why “shares” is a key metric to track Shared video: • Increases Purchase intent up to 50x (McKinsey) • Drives user action and increases ROI @Design, need a great image to show the value of a share. Amplifying messages or people whispering. • Increases Targeting; video reaches interested people with a purchase need • 12-25 new opportunities to view v Sources: McKinsey, Decipher, Unruly ShareRank studies Shared video increases purchase intent up to 50x 7 (McKinsey)
    8. Social Video viewers plan to act Talk to someone Search online Visit showroom Book test drive 33% 22% 15% 8% Source: Decipher. Automotive client, n=222 Contact dealer 7%
    9. Why do people share content? Basic emotions Primal responses Cognitive responses Intensity Emotional valence Schema disruption Social motivation Memorability Enjoyability Medium Favourability Interpanel agreement and more...
    10. Top two factors Psychological responses Social motivations
    11. Psychological Response
    12. 5 Guidelines For Creating Highly Shareable Content
    13. #1 Make It Emotional Strong emotional response: 2x as likely to be shared
    14. #2 Forget Cats & Celebs Strong, positive emotions get video shared & remembered Exhilaration is the most successful trigger with 65% recall
    15. #3 Promote Your Brand NO correlation between shareability and level of branding Average branded video takes :30 seconds for brand reveal
    16. #4 Take the Time to Tell a Story Top-shared ads getting 30-seconds longer YOY Runtime 2:24 Runtime 3:01 Runtime 5:07 Runtime 3:46 Runtime 2:24 Runtime 5:07
    17. #5 Don’t over invest in content & under invest in distribution A video that is seen by few cannot be shared by many
    18. Make a video hit & Promote brand objectives 1 Make an emotional connection 2 No set recipe for creative device 3 Include your brand 4 Take the time to tell a story 5 Distribution is still king
    19. Learn how to craft a winner repeatedly & with scale Unruly ShareRank™ factors in over 100 variables to predict the shareability of a video including its most shareable moments – prior to launch
    20. Case Study: Budweiser “Brotherhood” Views: 15,383,951 Shares: 2,719,124 #1 Shared Super Bowl Ad
    21. Success - faster than ever before Sharing trends: 200 most shared branded videos of 2012 Day 2: The Viral Peak • 10% of the shares occur on day 2 • 25% of shares occur in the first 3 days • 50% of shares occur in the first 3 weeks There are strong correlations between shares achieved in days 1-3 (R2=0.59) and 1-6 (R2=0.87) and all-time share. Days Following Launch Source: Viral Video Chart
    22. Top 5 Shared Super Bowl ads Shares per day Super Bowl Airs Budweiser achieves two viral peaks by launching prior to Game Day Source: Viral Video Chart
    23. Additional Reading The Science of Sharing White Paper Super Bowl Playbook
    24. Richard Kosinski President, US Winner Best Content Distribution Service Winner 2012 Digital Innovation Award Winner Digital Innovator of the Year
    25. Sharing activity by day of the week Source: Viral Video Chart – Sharing activity of the 1,000 most shared branded videos 52 weeks to 7th June 2013