The folks in advertising and PR agencies who have the best clothes, most piercings, deepest Bennifer knowledge and most current urban slang like to deliver lectures to those of us in janky Dockers about how we still don’t “get” the power of viral videos.
The mainstream news media is, like, so out, they tell us breathlessly. Persuasion these days is all about wireless viewing of virally spread, organically generated new media, such as forwarded You Tube videos. It’s happening all around us, and Nielsen is clueless! THIS, they say, is where the savviest marketing and political people are focusing their efforts!!
Well, it’s headed that way, but for people who have to invest in persuading people right now, it’s important to understand what’s actually happening out there right now. According to Pew, Americans are absolutely viewing these “viral videos.” But it’s still a pretty small slice that are seeing them online. For example, 4 percent saw Senator Clinton’s breathtakingly unfunny Soprano’s video online. Ninety-six percent did not, which coincidentally is precisely the number of people who admit to regularly wearing janky khakis.
So the notion that the masses are viewing these viral videos online is overstated by many. However, the new media is absolutely impacting the old media. For instance, almost four times more people saw Senator Clinton’s Sopranos video on good old fashioned television (15 percent) than saw it on-line (4 percent).
So, yes, viral videos matter, and people in the persuasion business ignore them at our peril. But they still matter mostly because they are slavishly re-run by the mainstream media, who are petrified of looking like they don’t “get it,” and still have the biggest hunk of audience.