Predicting Viral Video Success


Why do some internet videos “go viral” and rack up millions of views while apparently comparable videos don’t? For marketers seeking to use the video channel as a promotion tool, wouldn’t it be handy if you could predict which of several videos was more likely to succeed on the Web? OTOinsights, the neuromarketing division of One to One Interactive, has released a study that correlates various physiological measures taken while viewing videos with actual viewing traffic.

Analyzing the results from various physiological traces in combination with eye tracking and interview data, the t=zero research team presents a series of three insights with regards to how users engage with internet video. These include:
1. Viewer Responses to Internet Videos are Emotionally Complex.
2. Engagement Scores Substantially Enhance Interpretability of User Ratings.
3. Viewer Engagement and Video Success are Positively Linked.

Video Length

One of the more interesting findings of the study dealt with video length. The researchers found no correlation between engagement, emotion, and the length of a video. In short, as long as the video is engaging, a video longer than three minutes can score as well as a much shorter one.

Predicting Success

After turning the data collected from the subjects who viewed videos into a composite measure of emotional engagement dubbed the QEI (Quantemo Engagement Index), the study showed a correlation with actual pageviews on the Internet. This data is from a set of YouTube videos:

Web 2.0 … The Machine is Us/ing Us * 305 * 6 million pageviews
Completely Uncalled For * 219 * 5.7 million pageviews
World of Warcraft BigBlueDress * 195 * 3.6 million pageviews
The Evil Strawberry * 181 * 944K pageviews
Piece of Mind – Vancouver Film School * 124 * 864K pageviews

While this research isn’t exactly a cookbook for creating the next YouTube phenomenon, it’s worth checking out if you are in that segment – download the full report.

And, by the way, here’s the video that generated 6 million pageviews (now up to 7.5 million):

  1. MLDina says

    Very interesting! I’d love to see some feedback about corporate videos and vlogs!

  2. Oranse Taylor says

    I dont know what any of that means. So its about as useful to me as that Hot Spot thermometer on Youtube. I mean haven’t the nerds been doing this to books and music and as of recently screenplays, creating page by page color by numbers instruction forever? Is it ever successful? Of course Im not knocking familiar structure and common formats, just the “hey lets graph all this out and figure out why it works”

    Or it could be that thats now what the study is about at all in which case I’m sorry but I already admitted that I didnt understand the data.

  3. Nick Trendov says

    WOMANIZER would probably rank as a viral video success even though it is in the main stream.

    BRAIN ECHO is what I call the exploitation of communities where events cause people to get excited and talk about their communal experience. Eventually the excitement and conversation fades away like a series of echoes.

    Brittany’s WOMANIZER managed to go back into the communities who were waiting and re-envigourated the buzz. Those who feed on internet traffic boosted the volume.

    There is also some ‘mirroring’ that neuroscience describes as an observer watching a subject doing something receives the same stimulation in their brain as the subject performing the action. Here it is listening to the music.

    Neuromarketing can easily identify the stimulus and brain activity pair, but is this manipulation? NO.

    Self-conditioning is happening here whether there is neuroscience or neuromarketing or not. Think of other social interactions and you can see this at work.


  4. Nick Trendov says

    oops site should be

    Here is another post about ‘mirrors’ with the title…Monkey See, Monkey Do…


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