Source: eDentalImage

Viral videos are the holy grail of advertising and marketing.

But with the number of videos cluttering the market — over 70 hours of video are uploaded to YouTube every minute — it's hard to make yours stand out, much less spread like wild fire.

Case in point: when Ad Age launched their Viral Video Chart four years ago, the average view count needed to make it on the list was 220,000 views.

Today, it takes 1.5 million views to be considered a viral video. That threshold even accounts for the viewership of clips related to the campaign across the web and on various sites, so it's counting views beyond just YouTube. Even then, that's a 600% increase in the threshold, and perhaps difficulty, in what it takes to go viral.

The significance of this trend is important for the industry. With the sheer volume of content, video or otherwise, it's now much more difficult to capture audience attention and generate views of your videos.

The good news is that there's an overall trend of audiences choosing to watch online video ads.

In 2011, audiences actively chose to watch ads 2.7 billion times. In 2012, the number grew to 4.6 billion, a 70% increase over a one year period. This number doesn't refer to video ad impressions that are being served, so it indicates consumer willingness to engage. 

There are many resources that discuss the secret sauce to creating viral videos. Mashable recently interviewed Seedwell, a creative agency which specializes in creating viral videos.

According to Peter Furia, the agency's co-founder, "The key is making a video that elicits a strong enough emotion or reaction from a group of people that they feel compelled to share it with others." Entrepreneur magazine discussed distribution and choosing the category of viral video that you want to create.

But one new piece of research that has surfaced recently is the timing surrounding viral videos.

According to Business Insider and video technology company Unruly Media's research, the most critical days in a video's lifetime are those immediately following its launch.

Source: Business Insider

Unruly's Social Diffusion Curve shows a strong positive correlation between the number of shares in the first three days and number of all-time shares — meaning that the first few days account for the majority of views that your video will get in its lifetime.

Other data from the research show that:

  • 10% of video shares occur on day 2
  • 25% of shares occur in the first 3 days
  • 50% occur in the first 3 weeks
  • 66% occur in the first 3 months

For maximum virality, brands should focus on the first three days of a video's life to generate the most number of views and shares possible.

To increase the likelihood of more views, brands can consider promoting the video in their paid media as well. Leveraging the paid media channel means that your video is exposed to potentially millions of impressions via display ads all over the web on publisher sites where your customers are browsing.

Timing is important for creating viral videos so knowing where to put the majority of your effort will help to maximize the ROI on your video marketing efforts. With the right strategy and execution, your video could be the next to reach Ad Age's list of top viral videos.