April 24, 2014

Teads study shows the changing face of viral video success

Emotional engagement drives viral video success, but distribution is key to virality

A new research study by Teads and Affectiva, a spin off group from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology has examined the Top 40 UK & US YouTube videos of 2013, and found that emotional engagement and effective distribution are equally important in achieving viral video success.


The study ranked video adverts by emotional response using Affectiva’s Affdex Engagement Score™ – which considers the range of facial emotions elicited by a video, their intensity, duration and variability. The score also takes into account visual cues such as smiles, disgust, concentration and surprise.

The Teads Affdex study found that viral successes such as Evian’s Baby&Me, DevilsDueNYC’s Devil Baby Attack and Pepsi Max & Jeff Gordon generated very high emotional engagement with viewers, showing an average Affdex Engagement score of 92.

However, the study also confirms that content alone is not enough to ensure virality – a comprehensive distribution strategy is of equal importance for brands seeking a viral hit.

A clear example is the Doritos Superbowl adverts which had high Affdex scores, up to 87.3, and strong potential for virality. However the ads were not promoted beyond the Doritos’ contest website, and only received 3.1million views.

Another example is Old Spice’s ‘Mom Song’, which registered an Affdex Engagement score of 93, more than ‘Baby& Me’ which received 92. However, ‘Mom Song’ received less than 10 million views, 120 million less than ‘Baby & Me’ suggesting the campaign had issues with its distribution.

Teads worked with Evian on the ‘Baby & Me’ video campaign and distributed the video across Teads’ network of premium blogs and publishers. Teads also used its unique formats and technology to position the ad within the best places to generate maximum viral impact. Despite not generating the highest emotional response, the video received by far the most views, amassing 20 million views in the first two days, over 73 million YouTube views and 130 million views in total across all platforms.

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‘Baby & Me’ soon became YouTube’s video of 2013. Teads also revealed that the video featured in more than 57,000 tweets, was shared over 1 million times on social media, and received 1.1 million Facebook likes and 289,000 Facebook comments. The campaign’s strong results suggest distribution is the deciding factor in a video’s success.

All brands recognize the power of a viral video, but achieving a hit is not just an art, it’s a science. Teads’ Affdex Study shows that emotional reactions are critical to viral hits, but a strong distribution strategy is just as important. People love sharing jaw-dropping videos but all content is nothing without delivery.

Read more about how brands can use research to avoid campaign mistakes in

Marketing Week

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