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Media Release

October 24 2011

ROFL - the key to viral video success say UniSA Marketers

Getting the user to laugh out loud may be the key to them forwarding on video content. istock_4101627Creating a laugh out loud (or a ‘rolling on the floor’ laughing) response or possibly even a fit of anger is a key element to creating a viral video hit according recent research conducted by the University of South Australia’s Ehrenberg-Bass Institute for Marketing Science.

Online viral videos, particularly those distributed through social media, are a great tool for marketers looking to maximise audience reach but minimise production cost.

Senior Research Associate, Dr Karen Nelson-Field, says marketers have previously struggled to find a formula of success for a video sensation.

“Video sharing is a growing opportunity for marketers, the issues lie in the fact that nobody knows what a successful campaign is made of,” she says. “So it’s quite a hit and miss approach.”

“The research considered the emotional elements within video content and does offer benchmarks for marketers in terms of what’s more likely to be shared and what’s not.”

The research involved examining 400 pieces of user-generated content then analysing the emotional response from the viewer and what impact this had on them deciding to share the content via Facebook.

Dr Nelson-Field says the extent of sharing is directly related to the strength of emotion felt, making a high emotional response more valuable to a marketer.

“We tested 16 emotions and we split it up between high and low, negative and positive arousal,” she says.

“We found that videos that elicit a strong/high arousal response were shared at a greater rate than those which didn’t.”

Although anger and shock rate highly for responses more likely to result in content being shared, Dr Nelson-Field says overall the report indicates aiming for a laugh is better than a frown.

“Our research findings show that positive high arousal emotions have a greater relationship than negative high arousal emotions.”

“At the end of the day making someone laugh has a better outcome than making someone sad.”

The report highlighted that the majority of the countless videos in the vast digital realm too often failed to create enough motivation for the viewer to forward them on.

Dr Nelson-Field says the majority of videos fall in the response category of boredom or amusement.

“When you actually look at the relationship between ‘shares’ and emotions most videos out there rate poorly in terms of their actual sharing ability,” she says.

“Marketers should try and up-scale the degree of arousal so if they think something is amusing they need to get it to a point where someone will actually physically laugh out loud.

“I think the opportunity missed for marketers is they send out a video that misses the sharing opportunity but perhaps maybe worse - bores their audience.”

This research was conducted by the Ehrenberg-Bass Institute for Marketing Science by Dr Karen Nelson-Field, Dr Erica Riebe and Kellie Newstead.

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