Content Marketing Blog

Viral video popularity explained by new algorithm

While it is near impossible to predict what will become popular amongst internet users, a Melbourne University academic has developed an algorithm to explain what makes an internet video go viral.

Never convinced that the popularity is completely random, marketing professor Dr Brent Coker believes he is one step closer to explaining the success of viral videos.

"[A video going viral] is just one of the things that I've always been interested in and it's a challenging nut to crack," he said.

In its six year history, video website YouTube has already recorded more than 20 videos with over 100 million views.

However, some of the most post popular videos are not produced by everyday people but rather advertising agencies – and this has formed the basis of Dr Coker's branded viral movie predictor (BVMP) algorithm.

There are four components to the BVMP algorithm – congruency, emotive strength, network-involvement ratio and "paired memes synergy".

Essentially, the algorithm suggests that the video theme must fit the consumer's image of the product, as well as having an emotional appeal – disgust and fear are the most powerful and memorable emotions.

Relevance to a group of people must also be taken into consideration by video producers – and above all, the must have the right combination taken from 16 concepts discovered by Dr Coker to be common to viral videos.

The marketing professor also points out that modern day consumers now rely on the opinions of others online rather than traditional forms of advertising.

"Viral transfer of information through networks is essentially word-of-mouth buzz on steroids," he said.

"Ensuring the success of a viral-produced movie is still largely hit-and-miss … babies, pranks and stunts seem to have great success on some occasions, but turn into catastrophic failures on others."