Earlier this year, Dove's Real Beauty Sketches became the most-watched online video advertisement of all time.
If you don't remember, the ad elicited an intense emotional response from viewers by using a sketch artist to show that women are often much more beautiful than they describe themselves as being.
But while the ads garnered more than 50 million views on YouTube, a survey found that it's likely that many of those views came from people who didn't even remember that the ads were for Dove. That's because Dove isn't mentioned until the very end of the 3-minute ad, when the company's logo is briefly flashed onscreen.
New research from Karen Nelson-Field, a professor at the University of South Australia Business School, suggests that Dove really ought to have made its brand more prominent in its massive viral hit.
Though marketers have been shy to plaster social video content with repeated brand references for fear that people won't want to share something that is obviously an advertisement, the truth is that people actually don't care who sponsored a piece of content, so long as it's good.
In her new book, "The Science of Sharing," Nelson-Field reveals that the frequency with which people hear or see a brand's name in a social video has no tangible effect on how likely they are to share the video with their friends on social media.
But due to brands' reticence to slap their names all over social video content, Nelson-Field found that just 6% of branded videos include both a visual and verbal mention of the brand that sponsored it, a tactic that has been found to help the brain encode the information necessary for remembering the brand.
By comparison, 90% of 30-second TV commercials include a verbal and visual mention of the sponsor, making viewers of those commercials much more likely to recall who sponsored them.
Unruly CEO Scott Button, who frequently collaborates with Nelson-Field, has noticed this phenomenon first-hand with the online video campaigns his company works to optimize. He spoke to Business Insider following an Advertising Week event. Oftentimes, he said, brands unnecessarily try to present sponsored content covertly in order to avoid making the videos appear too commercial.
Instead of worrying about a non-existent roadblock, Button said brands should instead focus on triggering intense, positive emotions with content that surprises, excites, inspires, or makes people laugh.
"If you present content to viewers, and the content is good, they don't care whether you shot it at home or if it's being made in some studio by a major brand," Button said. "It's just good content. If you want to go crash a party, it's fine. Just make sure you bring champagne."
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