Viral videos: Not there yet

A bunch of new startups are working on creating the next viral video launcher.

The inevitable source of information when blogging about online video is the NewTeeVee blog. Today, one the feature writers Jackson West wrote an interesting post called Motion Picture Storytelling Gets Interactive.

The post elaborates on ARGs with the new Nowheremen video that just came out to promote a new series premiere. Here’s the video trailer:

Overlooking the fact that this video is catchy enough to click on the link below it to learn more, I found Jackson West’s post more interesting in terms of how to make your audience interact with your viral content.

Today, videos belong mostly to the entertainment industry. It’s pretty tough for a business specialized in funds management for example to create video content that will:

  1. Be passed on from one viewer to the other in a viral way.
  2. Do it in a way that serves the interests of the company financing the production and promotion of the video.

There’s one model that’s pretty smart, but again uses the traditional humor + baby + karaoke model to viralize their video: The Baby Singing in the Bath:

If you paid attention to it, you’ll notice that Baby Ruth is behind it. The chocolate bar appears 3 seconds in the video, enough to build brand awareness and top of mind.

On the downside, they had to compare their bar to a poop to integrate it as good as possible in the content.

For companies looking for a more serious way to use videos that will travel around the net, there isn’t really any solutions for them… Just yet.

One of the main reasons for it is that most companies have adopted a Website to better their communications. However, a very low number of them use video on their Website to communicate in a more effective way.

Some companies might not need video right now (a descriptive text might fulfill their communications needs) but others could really use video to make their product more comprehensive, mostly companies with a new concept or companies positioned on a crowded and competitive market.

A video on your site could be the starting point or the ending point of your online video strategy. Just one video on your site is too much 1.0. If your Web agency figures out a way to make your on-site video interact with your other viral videos going around the Web, along with a way to interconnect these videos so that users can always land on your Website, then you have a winning strategy.

However, I think that no main video platform provides users with such tools. Web video companies are too much focused on working on the social activities around videos, but none of them really take into considerations solutions to change the video format and the ways to consume videos online.

There’s still so much to do. Here’s a link I strongly recommend to conclude on this discussion: It’s Eric Enge from Stone Temple interviewing Mike Nichols from Microsoft Labs. Mike Nichols is working on a project that doesn’t affect the social interaction around the video, but acts upon the video itself to make it more accessible. I truly believe online videos are going towards this direction.