Advertising is about delivering the right message to the right audience at the right time by filling the gap between the sender and receiver (Fletcher, 2010). As marketing communication tools, there are many aspects that advertising can cover (Fletcher, 2010). Even though the most fundamental use of advertisements is to sell, advertisements also serve different purposes, such as building brand awareness through informative content and giving consumers a reason to purchase through persuasive content (Fletcher, 2010).
Not every advertisement ‘goes viral’. There are still a limited number of advertisements that have achieved that level of success (Fletcher, 2010). There are different aspects that influence the effectiveness of advertisements. The most important aspects of motivation are the brand, message content, and emotional value (Kemp, Bui & Chapa, 2012; Phelps, Lewis, Mobilio, Perry & Raman, 2004), and product category involvement (Te’eni-Harari, Leman-Wilzig & Lampert, 2009).
Before the emergence of the Internet, marketers would use traditional media such as television, radio, outdoor billboards, and print to promote their products and services. Those media are considered to be above-the-line advertising, which are paid and mass media type. These media are one-way communication. Nowadays, the advancement of technology has influenced how companies advertise, shifting the focus from traditional advertising to online advertising. The Internet has allowed advertising to expand the communication network and leverage social media to reach the target market.
Viral marketing has been used for around 20 years. Nowadays, there are many multinational companies which try to implement viral marketing as part of their marketing communication strategies in different industries (Schulze, Scholer & Skiera, 2014). Viral marketing employs word-of-mouth (WOM) advertising to pass along ideas or information through social network sites, email, or links (Kulp, 2007).
In the digital era, a company usually launches their advertisement either on their own websites or on social media websites. The most common ways for consumers to receive the message is through Facebook and YouTube. Then consumers share it with their friends. The prevalence of this sharing act is what causes a video to become viral. Consequently, viral advertising can be defined as voluntary distribution of information from one person to another using digital or electronic means (Petrescu, 2012).
An example of viral advertising in the digital world is the Evian water ‘Roller Babies’ advertisement. A lot of people have seen and shared the advertisement and made it viral. Its viewership on YouTube has reached over 79 million views internationally. Another example on a smaller scale is ‘Ada Apa Dengan Cinta’, a 2014 Indonesian LINE advertisement. When the campaign was launched, many people watched and shared this mini drama advertisement on their social media accounts. The viewership count on YouTube has reached approximately 5 million views.
Word-of-mouth (WOM) is a powerful and important tool that directly impacts brand reputation. The digital era has sped up the effectiveness of communication delivery and increases the power of word-of-mouth (Taylor, Strutton & Thompson, 2012). Social media popularity gives consumers the opportunity to use WOM on such platforms. This is known as electronic word-of-mouth (eWOM). eWOM allows consumers to transfer a message to numerous other consumers at the same time (Taylor, Strutton & Thompson, 2012). Starting from a small group of consumers, an advertising message could be forwarded to a larger group of consumers in the blink of an eye.
Author: Adilla Anggraeni (Binus Business School, Bina Nusantara University, West Jakarta, Indonesia) and Sarah Diandra (Binus Business School, Bina Nusantara University, West Jakarta, Indonesia)
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