The Formula For Viral Advertising Success Will Definitely Blend

Thales Teixeira is an assistant professor at Harvard Business School. According to Harvard Business Review, Teixeira and two colleagues used eye-tracking scanners to determine exactly what people look at when they watch video ads.

After analyzing thousands of reactions to many ads, second by second, and tracking exactly when people stop watching, we found that keeping viewers involved depends in large part on two emotions: joy and surprise. To maximize viewership, it’s important to generate at least one of these responses early on. Traditionally, though, advertisers have constructed narratives that escalate toward a dramatic climax or a surprise ending. Such commercials may have worked on TV decades ago, but today’s online viewers need to be hooked in the opening seconds.

To repeat, today’s online viewers need to be hooked in the opening seconds. Quite a challenge, no?

The good professors also suggest that “advertisers need to briefly terminate viewers’ feelings of joy or surprise and then quickly restore them, creating an emotional roller coaster—much the way a movie generates suspense by alternating tension and relief.”

Personally, I am not a fan of formulas. There are always counter examples that prove there’s no one way to viral advertising Nirvana. Will it Blend?, for instance, does not abide the roller coaster rule. The new object either blends or it does not, and we know it will blend, so even that suspense is tamed. Yet, we tune in my the millions to see how it blends.

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