Viral Videos Suck... or... This Too Shall Pass
First of all I want to thank Nalts and his excellent blog for bringing this video to my attention. It’s another epic mini-movie from OK Go that showcases the band’s innovative use of short-form video to market themselves and their music.
It’s very entertaining. It’s also fairly useless.
Let’s take a look at their last huge viral success. The video for Here It Goes Again rode the first wave of YouTube’s explosion into global consciousness. You’ve seen it. Four indie nerds doing a synchronized routine on treadmills. It’s very entertaining. According to YouTube’s figures it has been viewed almost 50 million times. That’s just from OK Go’s own channel. The same video on EMI’s channel has added another 1.5 million and there are probably a few hundred thousand more views with other unauthorized duplicates.
So the band have produced a video that’s been seen around 50 million times. What did they do with that? Not very much. There seems to have been very little strategy behind the whole thing. If you watch the video on YouTube there are no live links allowing you to purchase either the video itself or anything else by the band. The video serves no purpose other than to entertain. Even if you were to ascribe every purchase of the song’s parent album Oh No to a viewing of the video, you would still end up with a dreadful conversion rate. Fifty million videos viewed has translated, to date, into less than 250,000 albums sold. That’s an embarrassing conversion rate of less than half a percent.
It makes me want to scream. If only their YouTube page was linked to iTunes. If only there was a link to purchase a video ringtone of the video for ten cents. If only the page was designed to drive 50 million viewers towards some kind of action. Any kind of action. If only 99.5 percent of those views weren’t totally wasted.
Damian Kulash, lead singer with OK Go sees it differently. He believes that the video’s huge viral success helped the band to sell out concerts on five continents and win a Grammy. I don’t doubt any of that, I just wish he’d tried the video ringtone idea as well (and cut me in for a percentage).
Which brings us back to now. This new video from OK is very entertaining. Before it even went live on YouTube, Kulash was complaining in the New York Times, no less, about his record company’s refusal to allow video embedding. Kulash was concerned that without the possibility of his video going viral, the band would be unlikely to replicate the success they have achieved. Fortunately for us, EMI caved in and we can now embed the video.
In the two days since it launched, it has been viewed almost 2.5 million times. The video page still carries no advertising or identifiable call to action. Sales of the new album are, as yet, unknown.
I think the video is very entertaining. It still makes me want to scream.