Viral Marketing Campaigning

Production, Dispersion and Qualitative Assessment of a Viral YouTube Video

Research Paper (postgraduate) 2012 24 Pages

Business economics - Offline Marketing and Online Marketing



List of Figures

List of Abbreviations

1 Introduction

2 Product Specification

3 Viral Marketing Campaign
3.1 Definition
3.2 Segmentation, Targeting, Positioning
3.3 Video: Content and Message
3.4 Seeding Strategy
3.4.1 Whom to seed to
3.4.2 How to Seed
3.4.3 When to Seed

4 Evaluation of the Campaign
4.1 Results
4.2 Key Learnings

5 Conclusion and Limitations


Electronic Sources


List of Figures

Figure 1: Viral Marketing

Figure 2: MCM McKinsey Brand Funnel

Figure 3: Seeding Strategy

Figure 4: Posting and Interaction

Figure 5: Video Statistics

Figure 6: Screenshot Video

List of Abbreviations

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1 Introduction

The marketing landscape has undergone tremendous changes throughout the past decades (Keller 2009: 139). This has resulted in a communication environment in which the isolated usage of traditional media techniques is challenged. Already in 2006, 65% of consumers felt bombarded with an infinite variety of marketing messages (Porter and Golan 2006: 30). Moreover, evidence has been found that consumers proactively seek to avoid mass media messages through digital video recording (DVR), spam filters, and pop-up blockers (Hann et al. 2008: 1094). In addition, consumers increasingly rely on peers’ advice rather than on company’s marketing messages (Hinz et al. 2008: 55). As a response to these alterations, many companies have shifted their marketing budgets from traditional advertising techniques to new marketing formats that are supposed to better take the identified consumer needs into account. This led to the advent of viral marketing.

The underlying project of the paper at hand addresses this trend by attempting to promote a product with the help of a viral marketing campaign. The heart of this campaign is a video that benefits the product in question, namely the business administration Master’s program of the University of Münster. An elaborate seeding strategy is intended to complement the video in order to foster its virality.

The objectives of the campaign are to create awareness for and to raise interest in the Master’s program. Supplementing the video, the report at hand offers the reader an overview of how these objectives are intended to be met. First, the product is specified in terms of its basic and additional benefits. Second, the authors introduce their understanding of the term viral marketing and illustrate how they transfer the viral concept to the campaign. This includes the segmentation of the target market, the description of the video’s message, and the seeding strategy. In a third step, the results of the campaign are evaluated and key learnings are derived. The report closes with a summary of the major results and the limitations of the project.

2 Product Specification

A product is “anything that can be offered to a market for attention, acquisition, use, or consumption that might satisfy a want or need” (Kotler and Armstrong 2008: 204). The benefits of a product can be generally divided into a basic benefit and additional benefits (Vershofen 1940: 71). The analyzed product of this report is the business administration Master’s program of the University of Münster. Its basic benefit is the granting of the consecutive degree Master of Science (MSc) which is achieved after four semesters of study (www.wiwi.uni-muenster.de). A necessary condition for admittance to the program is a Bachelor’s or a higher degree in business administration or in a related field of study. Other conditions comprise work experience, extracurricular activities, and experiences abroad. The Master’s program has been launched in 2008. While it receives approximately 2,000 applications per year, only about 200 applicants are admitted into the program each fall (source: Master’s coordination office). The majority of the admitted students is German with only 15 out of 219 students of the graduation class 2013 being of non-German citizenship.

An additional benefit of the Master’s program is made up of the fact that students can sharpen their profile according to their individual interest by choosing one of the majors accounting, finance, management, or marketing. Moreover, students collect one fifth of credits in another field of research, i. e., in their respective minor. Beside the subjects of the four majors, three supplemental fields of study can be elected as minor: information systems, economics, and business research.

The Master’s program benefits students with both scientific research and professional orientation. Therefore, classes are complemented by guest lectures from visiting professors of renowned business schools and by presentations of international companies. Further additional benefits of the program can be derived from its international orientation. Students are encouraged to spend a semester abroad and lectures of the Marketing Center and the Finance Center are held in English. Nevertheless, profound German language skills are a prerequisite for the admittance to the program. This is, among further reasons, due to the fact that the contents of the two other majors are entirely taught in German (www.wiwi.uni- muenster.de).

An additional benefit that distinguishes the Master’s program from comparable competitors’ programs is the business faculty’s accreditation by the Association to Advanced Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB) (www.aacsb.edu). Currently, less than 5% of all business schools worldwide receive this accreditation, amongst others Harvard Business School, Yale University, and University of St. Gallen. In Germany, a total of eight schools are a member of the AACSB, e. g., RWTH Aachen and WHU-Otto Beisheim School of Management.

3 Viral Marketing Campaign

3.1 Definition

The term viral marketing has caused a lot of excitement among marketers, journalists, and advertisers although an unambiguous definition is still to be found (Phelps et al. 2004: 334). While the term is widely attributed to Steve Jurvetson and Tim Draper who first used it in 1996 (Kaikati and Kaikati 2004: 9; Porter and Golan: 26), others claim that the Havard Business School Professor Jeffrey Rayport added authority to it in the same year (Kirby 2007: 89).

There are numerous approaches to outline viral marketing. Bampo et al. describe it as a strategy “that encourages individuals to propagate a message, thus creating the potential for exponential growth in the message’s exposure and influence” (Bampo et al. 2008: 274). In contrast, Dobele, Toleman, and Beverland view viral marketing as a process “of encouraging individuals to pass along favorable or compelling marketing information” (Dobele, Toleman, and Beverland 2005: 144). For the report at hand, viral marketing is further understood as an instrument of “consumer-to-consumer (or peer-to-peer) communications - as opposed to company-to-consumer communications - to disseminate information about a product or service” (De Bruyn and Lilien 2008: 151), in this case the business administration Master’s program.

While former communication models only consider one-directional communications between the sender of a marketing message and the respective receivers, the network coproduction model accounts for the increasing importance of consumers in the process of spreading a message and attaching a meaning to it (Kozinets et al. 2010: 72). The latter thus provides a guiding framework to the authors as it leaves no room for one-sided company-to-consumer communication but instead centers on the consumer who is the crucial entity in viral marketing.

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Figure 1: Viral Marketing (adapted after Kozinets et al. 2010: 72).

From a marketer’s perspective, triggering such peer-to-peer communication is a highly complex challenge since virality is a manifold construct that is influenced by four key factors: the marketing message, the social structure of the network, the behavior of the network’s members, and the initial seeding strategy (Bampo et al. 2008: 274; Hinz et al. 2011: 55-56).

In recent years, viral marketing proved to be a highly promising measure to build consumers’ awareness and to raise interest. Successful examples include the TippEx campaign “A hunter shoots a bear!” with a total of 10 million clicks on YouTube after four weeks only and Procter & Gamble’s Old Spice campaign, with its top video being watched more than 43 million times up to today (Hinz et al. 2011: 55).

3.2 Segmentation, Targeting, Positioning

In the first step of the Segmentation Targeting Positioning (STP) approach, the relevant market has to be segmented into clusters that consist of within homogeneity and between heterogeneity of objects (Kotler and Armstrong 2008: 173).

Market segmentation can be executed according to demographic, geographic, psychographic, and behavioral criteria (Kotler and Armstrong 2008: 173-177). In a subsequent step, the respective segments’ attractiveness is evaluated in order to identify which segment or segments to enter (Kotler and Armstrong 2008: 183). Finally, the product is positioned relative to competitors’ products so that it occupies a distinctive place in consumers’ minds (Kotler and Armstrong, 2008: 191).

For the report at hand, the relevant market comprises all individuals who hold a qualifying degree allowing for entering a Master’s program in business administration and those who will hold such a degree in the near future. Segmenting this market leads to various clusters of which the most promising one for the purpose of this campaign is the following: German speaking business students and recent graduates who are ambitious to gain a Master’s degree but are yet undecided of which program to choose and who are hardly aware of the business administration Master’s program at the University of Münster. Focusing on a German speaking target group seems reasonable due to the fact that the program is not entirely taught in English. Since it is not within the scope of the campaign to reposition the product, the third step of the STP approach is not pursued further. The project aims at placing the product in the target groups’ mind to build awareness rather than defining a distinctive position considering competitors’ products.

In order to accomplish this goal, a viral video campaign appears suitable as research found viral marketing to be a promising measure for creating awareness (Ferguson 2008: 180; Kirby 2007: 88). In addition, the target group is assumed to use the Internet, especially social media platforms, on a regular basis. It is thus supposed that the target group can be successfully reached through the Internet channel. In contrast to traditional above the line (ATL) marketing, viral marketing campaigns are also more cost efficient since their distribution is up to the virtual crowd (Hinz et al. 2011: 55; Kirby 2007: 88). This is particularly important as universities in general face high budget constraints. Since viral marketing campaigns are subject to a self-selection process, only interested Internet users will notice them. This makes a viral campaign highly effective in terms of reaching the target group (Bampo et al. 2008: 274).



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viral marketing campaigning production dispersion qualitative assessment youtube video



Title: Viral Marketing Campaigning