Viral Marketing

Viral marketing utilizes network effect to reach its target audience quickly in a cost-effective way. It relies on a customer-to-customer communication in which both the communicator and the receiver perceives that the message they communicate is non-commercial even though they actually deal with a product or service (Palka et all, 2009).

Traditionally, marketing cost of a film using TV and print advertising constitutes a significant portion of the total budget. With the popularity of internet and social networking sites, the movie producers are extensively using the viral marketing techniques as a more cost effective approach to create excitement and in turn entice people to purchase the tickets. Internet’s ability to target high value customer groups through their search preferences is a highly effective marketing tool (Westland, 2012).

‘Toy Story 3’ launched a video campaign with a fake commercial for the toy Lots o’ Huggin Bear in YouTube. Also they created internet only videos for the Ken doll with his interviews and a series on his dating tips. When people ‘like’ a YouTube video, the message gets communicated among their friends that in turn quickly get propagated through various social networking mediums such as Facebook or Twitter like a virus. A special Facebook application was created to sell the movie tickets in advance for Toy Story 3. As soon as someone purchases the ticket, it gets communicated to his/her friends.  When this message is conveyed through a friend, it seems more real and encouraging for others to follow unlike just watching a TV commercial and forget about it. Eventually, all these extra creative work really paid off for Disney with a total revenue exceeding $1 billion for this movie. Thus the Web 2.0 technology has contributed greatly towards the effectiveness of the viral marketing campaigns. Its scope is expected to increase tremendously once Web 3.0 takes on us with features on customer mobility and location.

Personally, I am a very casual and occasional user of social media as I still need to decide how much privacy I should compromise and how effectively I can use all the features. When comparing myself with teenagers I feel that I am not using the social media that much and the viral marketing campaign do not have an effect on me. I usually see these videos after the fact when the story finally appears in a news media. But according to the latest Pew Research Studies, 72% of adults and 81% of teens are active users of social media in USA. Out of this 67% of adults and 94% of teens are Facebook users. I could not get specific number for the YouTube users. This suggests that the adult’s interest in social media is quite impressive and it will definitely be translated into an increase in participation in viral marketing campaigns. Actually, the generation gap is decreasing.


Davis, K. The real generation gap: How adults and teens use social media differently (Infographic). Retrieved October 10, 2013 from

Palka, W., Pousttchi, K., Wiedemann, D. (2009). Mobile word-of-mouth – A grounded theory of mobile viral marketing. Journal of Information Technology (Palgrave Macmillan), 24 (2), 172-185

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