Doubt as to the effect of viral campaigns as a paid-media strategy has now been clarified in a new study. Post-view actions by video users are worth considerably more than the actual amount a company spends on its campaign.

Paying for viral videos results in higher earned media value

As opposed to paid media publicity where companies spend money to promote themselves, earned media is the series of actions viewers take after watching the video. Such actions include visiting Facebook pages, Tweets, replays, e-mail shares, and brand page visits. In a study conducted by the Jun Group, an analytics dashboard has been put in place to set a monetary value on the actions taken by social video viewers. Though some actors have always claimed that social media campaigns don’t need to be paid for and become viral organically, this study shows there also is a viable paid-media strategy that produces earned media benefits. Post-view action is worth 30.1% more than what was spent on actual campaigns.

Paying to Promote Viral

Before being able to benefit from earned media, research shows that a good number of the top viral videos are paid for. In order to get video campaigns up and off the ground, brands noticed that it's difficult to do so without investing in paid promotion. Most of the time, viral videos don't take off by themselves; however, success ads such as the Old Spice commercial make it seem that video promotion isn't necessary. Once the video is paid for, the viral comes from video sharing which indirectly promotes the content. Earned media is, in fact, not free but once the social video becomes popular, viewers are inclined to share.

Attributing Value to Actions

In this study, the Jun Group put a monetary value on actions taken by viewers after having seen a viral video. “Earned media is no longer a viral video fantasy. It is now a viable paid-media strategy that consistently delivers measurable results for everyday brands,” said Mitchell Reichgut, founder and CEO of Jun Group. “We’ve taken the mystery out of earned media and replaced it with complete transparency and clear, tangible metrics.” The company determined that visiting a brand's Facebook page is estimated at $1.00. Facebook page visits are the most popular in terms of earned media action and represent 62% of all post-view activity. Store locator usage and brand page visits came in next in line, representing 15% of post-view activity. Tweeting after having a viewed a viral video proved to be the least popular action, as it represented 1% of post-view activity. All in all, the Jung Group concluded that if a company spent $100,000 on a campaign, their return would be on average $130,000 after post-view actions were taken into account.

By Marcus Burke