Pixability is a sponsor of the Reel Summit taking place this week in San Francisco (Don’t miss out – register today!) on July 25-26.  Rob Ciampa, VP of Sales and Marketing, was kind enough to provide an article for us today about a terrible plague that is infecting tons of videos: Television Syndrome and Viralitis.  Let’s see what he has to say about fixing that problem.

No Sales? Suffering from Television Syndrome and Viralitis? Here’s a 4-Step Cure.

It seemed like such a brilliant strategy: take that cute, well-produced television commercial and put it on YouTube so it could go viral. The creative agency thought it was a great idea. So did your marketing department. It was going to “double product sales,” they said. But the only “double” it got was double-digit views, 84 to be exact.

Far-fetched? Not really.  I see this mistake all the time, even from rather talented marketers. You don’t need to ditch your YouTube expectations; you just have to cure a couple of video marketing ills: Television Syndrome and Viralitis.

Television Syndrome is a condition where marketers and their agencies treat YouTube as if it were another broadcast channel. They blindly repurpose content, hoping that some amorphous audience will take action. It works for Super Bowl commercials, doesn’t it? But with brands and businesses, it’s a different story. Sorry, but hope is not a marketing strategy, especially on YouTube. And television metrics like gross rating points (GRPs) don’t work for YouTube, either, regardless of how much they’re retrofitted for the online video world. As I’ll discuss shortly, YouTube requires a different approach.

And then there’s Viralitis, the assumed panacea for all brand and marketing woes. Some very bright people are starting to discuss the science of virality. Having analyzed many viral videos at Pixability, I’m skeptical at best. Even if it were possible to create a viral video, do the economic benefits really back it up? Sorry, but the answer is “no.” Betting your business on viral video is like betting your retirement on lottery tickets. It’s just not a sound plan. When videos are shared virally, it’s more so for entertainment value than brand lift.

Before getting into the cures for Television Syndrome and Viralitis, I’d like to share some recent findings on the performance of online video. I recently co-authored an upcoming study of the top 100 global brands and their use of YouTube. Over several months, my co-author and I used our proprietary, cloud-based video marketing technology and software to collect and analyze information from YouTube, along with all the major social media networks.

The goal of the study was to assess the adoption of YouTube among the top brands and to gauge their level of marketing effectiveness. With adoption, shown in figure 1, the number of monthly videos uploaded to YouTube grew significantly year-over-year.

Figure 1

Figure 1

For effectiveness, shown in Figure 2, we found that that over fifty percent of the videos produced by the top 100 brands had less than 1,000 views—clearly a waste of capital and marketing resources. But why? We saw clear signs of Television Syndrome and Viralitis among many of the top brands.

Figure 2

Figure 2

Fortunately, there is a cure – and a very effective one at that. There are four steps to remedy Television Syndrome and Viralitis. Understand that these steps also highlight where television and YouTube diverge.

Step #1: Your customer’s journey on YouTube has multiple touch points, so make sure your content aligns with each one.

Take a look at Figure 3. This is an example of a customer’s engagement with your brand. It’s about aligning your YouTube and video content portfolio with your customer’s journey and engagement to your brand. Please understand that your proverbial marketing funnel may be different. Our example shows the following touch points: creating awareness, generating interest, building credibility, removing objections, and providing service. Brands and agencies with television syndrome only create awareness. They’re stuck at the top of the funnel with a short video.

Figure 3

Figure 3

Step #2: Regularly produce good video content with a great story.

The best brands not only cover the entire funnel, but also produce video (and a lot of it) throughout the entire funnel. More importantly though, they focus on the story they’re delivering to the customer. Stop trying to produce your own version of the movie, Avatar. Don’t blow your budget on a few overproduced videos; spread it out over several solid videos with great story lines. It’s also critical to allocate budget on marketing those videos, too. Dumping a video on YouTube without marketing is just a poor use of your time.

Step #3: Viral video is a pipe dream, so get over it.

You’re not Psy, so stop wasting your time trying to produce Gangnam Style.  If someone is promising you virality, please run away fast. The same is true for those who want to sell you views for little money. Focusing on effective marketing for your video content is a better way to go.

Step #4: Use advertising to load the funnel, not for inflating view counts.

YouTube advertising is both highly targeted and highly effective. It’s more about views and action rather than impressions and CPM. Television Syndrome sufferers don’t understand that, but it’s fundamental to generating effective results. The goal of YouTube advertising is to get customers into the funnel, so the rest of your outstanding video content will pull them through to action and advocacy.

Television Syndrome and Viralitis are 100% curable, but you have to think like a video marketer, not a legacy marketer. Like any new medium, YouTube has its share of charlatans. The brands and marketers who understand YouTube and treat it differently from other social platforms, get stellar results. And the ones who don’t? They end up back in the legacy marketing world wondering why their customers are somewhere else.