Deconstructing the Viral Video: Part Two

In the previous blog post we discussed the way Old Spice used a viral video campaign to rebrand their image. The P&G subsidiary had the luxury of a nearly unlimited advertising budget; but unfortunately for a great majority of businesses and startups that is most definitely not the case. Luckily, with a bit of hard work and a whole load of spunk it can be done. That is where Kickstarter comes in, founded in 2008 Kickstarter allows people to circumvent traditional methods of funding and appeal directly to the public. The creation of a promotional video is a major part of appealing to potential donors. Now that Youtube is allowing its videos to openly solicit funding, it can be assumed that the quality and sophistication of these videos will only increase. Much like marketing viral advertisements and viral videos in general the purpose is to create content that engages the audience and has a high factor of “shareability”. The latter is hard to define, difficult to fake, and to quote Justice Stewart “I know it when I see it.” One recent example is Kickstarter video from Double Fine Productions.

Tim Schafer a long time veteran of the Adventure Game industry posed this question: Is the Adventure Game still a viable genre, and would people actually purchase one? Without knowing what to expect they decided to use Kickstarter as a method of crowdsourcing the funding. In their clever promotional video they openly admit that while they are unsure what the results might be. Their initial goal was 300,000 for the game and a budget of 100,000 for the filming, but the result far exceeded anything they could have imagined. One of the keys to their success was the fact that they agreed to have the process of creating the game filmed. This means that they didn’t just post one engaging video, they produced a whole series of follow-ups in which they: answered fan questions, posted blooper reels, gave updates, and genuinely weren’t afraid to make in fun of themselves. They also added new rewards throughout the entire process, this encouraged people to remain engaged with the project. The amount of money they raised is completely unprecedented in the gaming community.

Here are the facts:

Dollars pledged: 3,336,371

Total backers: 87, 142

First-time backers: 61,692

Even more interesting is that there was a spike in funding for other projects while this Kickstarter campaign was going on. According to Kickstarters data roughly 22% of first time backers remained on the site and went on to fund other projects. In the month and a half after the success of Double Fine the video game category managed to rake in another $2.9 million. Yes, that’s not as high as the total garnered by Double Fine, but still pretty amazing considering the fact that the video game category only pulled in $1.7 million in total during its first two years in existence. Given this campaign and other highly successful recent campaigns such as the smart phone watch thingy it is safe to assume that we will see other things like this. Erik Kain, contributor to Forbes magazine, had this to say that with the recent developments with crowd-funding the “cooperative economy may be coming into its own” and he goes on to state that “there’s no better place for this to happen than the gaming industry”. That isn’t to say that crowdsourcing funding will ever become a primary method of funding, but it is most certainly interesting to see the way in which can in some ways democratize the development of a product.

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Adam Saleh

Adam is a web developer and tech guru at Convergent1.

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