This morning, Unruly opens its doors on its first Social Video Lab in America, enabling advertisers to find out what makes a video ad go viral. Located at 41 West 25th Street in New York City, the new lab is modeled on the video technology company’s original Social Video Lab in London, which was launched last summer.

Both Unruly labs are designed to help brands and agencies make their video content contagious. And visitors to the New York lab don’t even need to bring their own lab coats, safety goggles, or beakers, as I discovered during a sneak preview last week.

Greg Jarboe has a cup of coffee in a beaker at the Unruly Social Video Lab in New York.

Greg Jarboe has a cup of coffee in a beaker at the Unruly Social Video Lab in New York.

There’s even a miniature version of an average Flemish square of a little town in Belgium in case you want to experiment with alternative endings to TNT’s “A DRAMATIC SURPRISE ON A QUIET SQUARE.”

Visitors to the New York lab will also be given a hands-on interactive journey through the science and history of online video sharing, plus a tour of current video trends. They will also have access to the Unruly Viral Video Chart, which has tracked 329 billion video streams since 2006. Advertisers can find out how their current social video footprint compares with their competitors, how to create shareable content, and how to determine the distribution strategy required to achieve their campaign goals.

Visitors will also be able to test the shareability of their own campaigns using Unruly ShareRank, an algorithm-based tool which uses over 100,000 data points to predict the number of shares a video will attract, before it is even launched, meeting the seemingly impossible desire to “predict viral success.”

Last week, Cat Jones, Unruly’s Director of Product Innovation, said, “Video is the world’s fastest-growing ad format in terms of ad spend, so it’s really important that brands have their fingers on the pulse and allocate their marketing dollars wisely. Leaving it to luck simply isn’t an option.”

She added, “Our video distribution platform has delivered more than 2,500 campaigns since 2007, including record-breakers such as Evian Roller Babies and Dove Real Beauty Sketches. That experience, coupled with our proprietary technology and real-time social video analytics, will give brands access to the kind of detailed consumer insights, competition contexts, and the global audience reach they need to fulfill their full potential when it comes to social video.”

Devra Prywes, Unruly’s Marketing Director, said, “Creating and distributing shareable content for social media is at the top of the agenda for CMOs, and brands can use the Lab experience to pinpoint exactly what’s trending. Right now, brands are creating controversial, provoking content to fill up the year that has been dubbed ‘#Empty 13’. We can advise advertisers how to pounce on the hottest trends before they become mainstream and how they can utilize this insight to generate meaningful paid and earned media.”

Devra Prywes (left) and Cat Jones (right) in the parlor at the Unruly Social Video Lab in New York.

Devra Prywes (left) and Cat Jones (right) in the parlor at the Unruly Social Video Lab in New York.

Recent research from the Unruly Social Video Lab has found:

  • There is a huge appetite for branded videos on the web. Every 24 hours, there are more than half-a-million shares of online video ads tracked (506,976);
  • Overt branding has little or no effect on a video’s shareability;
  • One quarter of an average ad’s shares occur within the first three days of its launch;
  • Branded content accounts for 4% of the Top 100 Most Shared Vines in comparison with 1% of the Top 100 Most Shared Videos;
  • Online videos which elicit strong positive emotions, such as hilarity or exhilaration, are shared 30% more often than those which elicit negative emotions, such as sadness and shock.

So, why do some video ads get millions of shares across the social web while others go largely unnoticed?

As David Waterhouse, Unruly’s Globe Head of Content and PR, revealed in ReelSEO 11 months ago, “The popularity of ads, just like YouTube videos of funny fails or cute kittens, is based on the strength or valence of the emotional triggers they elicit.”

And what are the emotions which drive a video to go viral?

During last week’s sneak preview, Jones and Prywes asked me to watch “Three – The Pony #DancePonyDance.” Published on Feb. 28, 2013, the social video created by Wieden+Kennedy currently has more than 1 million shares and close to 6.8 million views.

Then, they asked me to fill in Unruly’s Social Video Scorecard, which identifies the key psychological responses and social motivations that the video’s content elicits. I was then able to compare my scores with that of a national sample.

Since I was teaching a course on “YouTube Marketing Strategies and Secrets” the next day in the Rutgers Mini-MBA program in Digital Marketing, I asked for permission to use the scorecard in my class. Both Unruly and Rutgers said, “Yes.”

My improvised plan was to hand the scorecard to the 40 executives in my class, show “Three – The Pony #DancePonyDance,” ask them to identify their key psychological responses and social motivations, and then ask them to “score the scorecard.”

Everything went according to plan, until one of the executives in my class said, “We get to keep our scorecard, right?” Before I could answer, the rest of the class made it clear that they weren’t going to hand back the secret formula for making a video ad go viral.

Since discretion is the better part of valor, I discretely changed my plan and let my class keep their Social Video Lab Scorecards. So, don’t try to twist my arm to get one. All 40 of my copies are gone.

However, Devra Prywes will be speaking at the session on “Making Your Videos Famous – The Science of Sharing & Video Diffusion” at the 2013 ReelSEO Video Marketing Summit. And she’s bound to bring a batch of the Unruly Social Video Lab Scorecards with her. To get one from her, just pull your left earlobe and say the secret password: “Will it share?”