Viral marketing campaigns are mostly ineffective

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Viral Campaigns Falling Short, Says JupiterResearch

by Les Luchter, Wednesday, Sep 5, 2007 6:00 AM ET

VIRAL MARKETING CAMPAIGNS ARE MOSTLY ineffective, reports JupiterResearch, which found that only 15% of viral campaigns in the past year achieved the goal of prompting consumers to promote the marketer’s message.

In a new report, «Viral Marketing: Bringing the Message to the Masses,» the researcher also found that the most popular technique used to stimulate viral behavior was targeting of influentials. But, JupiterResearch added, viral marketers plan to decrease use of this tactic by 55% within the next year.

That makes sense to Jupiter analyst Emily Riley: «Viral marketers often send one campaign to all influentials,» she said. «Different influential groups not only respond very differently to advertising campaigns, but also influence others in very different ways.»

In fact, the study found that «relatively older» online users are more likely than «relatively younger» users to forward advertising messages to friends or tell friends about ads. While the younger users increasingly use social sites, the older users showed increased use of e-mail and also watch some video, so Jupiter said they «should be absolutely incorporated into viral marketing campaigns–especially because they are the traditional target audiences for brands or products.»

Social networking sites have definite pitfalls associated with them, explained David Schatsky, president, JupiterResearch. «While these sites may appear to be the most effective manner of delivering a message regardless of brand appropriateness,» he said, «by failing to truly understand the audience, viral marketers stand to alienate as many consumers as they interest.»