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How To Drive Earned Media -- Even When Your Content Is Less Than Stellar
From: MediaPost's Online Video Insider - Mitchell Reichgut | Thursday, 05 April 2012 00:00   
There’s nothing quite like that special moment when a video goes viral. Millions see it; millions are entertained, and the media landscape is enthralled for a while with its newest pop-culture darling. When a brand is involved in this phenomenon, it’s an unqualified, grand-slam home run -- and every marketer’s dream.

The natural corollary to this line of thought is that only superb content will work in social media. Most advertisers we speak with are under this impression. Fortunately, nothing could be further from the truth.

How-to videos, repurposed TV spots, drug and medical advertisements, recipe videos, and direct response commercials all consistently enjoy success in social media. In fact, one could argue that the performance-based, non-interruptive social format provides better, more tangible value than standard pre-roll.

The distribution mechanism for social video is a value exchange, whereby users receive virtual goods in return for watching a video. This format puts users in control, and it generates completion rates as high as 94% for 30-second videos. But of particular interest to advertisers is the channel’s ability to generate earned media -- regardless of the content.

Nothing is going to make a two-minute recipe video “go viral,” nor would the producers of such content necessarily have that expectation. But earned media is more than just sharing and free reach. According to a study we recently conducted, nearly 5% of users, on average, who watch a social video take an additional earned-media action after viewing. This means coupon and recipe downloads, store locator usage, Facebook visits, participation in contests, etc. All of this happens, by the way, after the user receives her or his virtual reward.

Thus, advertisers interested in generating earned media activity for their videos need not concern themselves with creating the next viral meme. They should, however, come to the table with a clear idea of the consumers they’d like to reach, and the actions they want those consumers to take. Coupon downloads, for instance are a natural next step after watching a CPG commercial.

Understanding the basic tenets of social media advertising (i.e., value exchanges, performance-based Cost-Per-Engagement (CPE) pricing, and targeting by demographic rather than by content type) can create opportunities for many brands that might not otherwise consider themselves good fits for the space.

Earned media results are no longer limited to an elite group of viral video megahits. Advertisers of every stripe can benefit from social advertising; they simply have to plan for it.

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