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Advertiser and agency interest in viral video is growing quickly, and 70% of ad-agency and media-buying executives plan to increase budgets for viral video marketing in 2009, according to a?study from Feed Company.

The “Viral Video Marketing Survey: The Agency Perspective” (pdf) surveyed ad-agency executives and media buyers and found that 80% are “very familiar” with viral video. Some 72% say their clients are “interested” or “very interested” in using viral video as an integral part of their marketing campaigns.

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The majority of ad execs (56%) also reported being “pleased” with the results of a viral video campaign, while less than 3% say they have been displeased.

Despite this enthusiasm, respondents said metrics for viral video success remain inconsistent and subjective, making viral video difficult to measure and leaving room for improvement in the areas of tracking and reporting, according to Feed Company. More than half (53%) said the area of tracking and reporting needs improvement and 21% said it needs “a lot of improvement.”

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The number of views that constitute viral video success also varies widely. An equal percentage of respondents selected 100,000, 250,000 and 500,000, when asked how many times a video needed to be viewed to be considered successful.

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Additional survey findings:

  • More than nine out of ten (92%) marketers labeled “exponential views” as the leading benefit to viral video marketing, followed closely with 87% choosing “brand engagement.” Online reach and the brand seen as “forward thinking” were also rated as highly positive factors.
  • Protecting the brand is extremely important for agencies and a huge concern for brand clients. While some found that the industry needs to greatly improve in this area (11%), most think it could improve “somewhat” (45%%).
  • Some agencies think that maintaining complete transparency during viral video marketing must improve. They were most likely to say that it needs slight improvement (37%), followed by “improvement” (32%), and “a lot of improvement” (26%).
  • 95% of agency executives are seeking greater accountability from vendors responsible for tracking campaign effectiveness, and more than half (55%) say there is a need for better execution of viral video marketing strategies.

“The survey shows that agencies recognize the value of viral video for their clients even as they call for improvements,” said Josh Warner, president of Feed Company. “We’re definitely seeing more of these campaigns because it costs less to produce and market viral video than many other types of traditional media – and that’s attractive to marketers during an economic downturn.”

About the survey: Feed Company conducted an online survey of 40 executives at major advertising agencies and media buying firms including Goodby, Silverstein & Partners, Wieden & Kennedy, Digitas, and McCann Erickson. The survey took place Aug. 1 – Sept. 12, 2008.

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