The Science of Viral Video Creation

“Going viral” is something everyone aspires to. Except that no one really knows how that happens. Or do they?

Mischievious Studios creates viral advertainment. Earlier in the year, they were the only team of YouTube creators going head-to-head with the traditional ad world on AMC’s new reality competition show, The Pitch. In an exclusive interview with the CEO Christiano Covino, Mischievious Studios’ formula for success was revealed.

Why make a foray into advertising over existing as a production company?

We would often get hired by an agency or brand to just produce some half-cooked creative. These spots ended up falling flat or not reaching their audience at all. It was only when we started having a hand in the viral strategy and spinning up the creative ourselves that our work started going viral and our clients started seeing big results.

Do you see this as a trend in which production companies are supplying only advertisement based content?

The democratization of digital film tools and the proliferation of film school grads means that there are more production companies than ever before. I believe many production companies have moved into creating advertising content to keep up with the growing demand of the booming ad industry. And to pay their bills.

If the internet is the last bastion for artistic expression, aren’t you destroying the internet by focusing on advertainment-aren’t we inundated with product placements and commercial spots and trailers in other media?

I started Mischievious to affect a change in the way advertising is created. I believe that if you have a captive audience, it is unethical to barrage them with your advertising message without giving them something in return. Advertisers have a responsibility to entertain these audiences, make them laugh, to not take their attention for granted. Because if they keep inundating captive audiences with boring ad messaging, audiences will leave these captive platforms and move their attention to platforms where they will not be bothered.

You can’t promise a video will go viral. What assurances can you offer a client over traditional ad agencies?

There are factors we can control in creating a viral video. We can control who we’re speaking to, what we’re saying, how we reach them, and whether or not the video is engaging. We’ve also partnered with seeding experts to be able to guarantee how much initial traction we want the video to get before we can let it sail off into virality. Just as TV advertising was trial by error in its earliest days, so too have we been hammering out the kinks in viral video advertising to make it less of an art, and more of a science.

What in your opinion makes a video viral?

In a word: currency.

If you create a video that someone can send to their friends and feel special for finding it first, you have created currency. Audiences will use that video as currency, sharing it in their social circles in exchange for being considered cool, funny, or relevant by their peers.

Contrary to popular belief, views are not the measure of a viral video, they’re a side effect. The real measure of a viral video is sharability.

We use a formula borrowed from Epidemiology to determine whether or not a video will spread through the population like a highly contagious virus, or will die out. This formula helps us determine if our viral co-efficient will be higher than 1, with the video growing till it reaches full saturation, or less than 1, with the video tapering out over time. Based on our previous successes and failures we can reverse engineer how to maximize our viral coefficient and create content that will spread.

Mischievious Studios appeared on episode 3 of The Pitch.

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