This time of year, all across the country, young people are receiving cars as graduation presents. And all those cars have to be insured. Do you think those grads have a car insurance company (or two) in mind? You bet they do. The challenge for the car insurance business is that talking about their products is kind of boring. So insurers have long taken to television, and now YouTube, with humorous ads that will make their name memorable. And on YouTube, these videos have the added benefit of being shared, re-uploaded, or even re-enacted by people who enjoy them.
Geico: Hump Day Viral Video Success
Geico of course is most well known for their English-accented gecko-themed campaigns. But let's look at their breakout marketing hit last year with their "Hump Day Camel Commercial," which currently has 21.9 million views:
Some YouTubers, because they liked this commercial and they can, have remixed this commercial and put it up on their own channels. This version from "VDJ MikeyMike" has been viewed more than 2.1 million times on its own. By itself it has amplified the Geico message by 10%.
And there are other versions of the video created by a variety of YouTube channels. One parody, morphed into a somewhat different meaning by Dirk Nowitzki of the Dallas Mavericks, has 1.9 million views. Another video re-enacts the commercial using characters from the World of Warcraft video game, with 4,300 views. And then there's this one, perfectly re-enacted by some kids hanging out in the family kitchen, with 43,000 views.
An ad with 20 million view rarely gets those numbers without "priming the pump" first with some TrueView (AdWords for Video) campaign dollars. And this was probably the case with the hump day ad. But Geico also delivered a great ad that happened to work well with the YouTube sharing format, and fans then took the theme and ran with it.
State Farm: Jake is a Viral Hit with Viewers
Geico's competitor, State Farm, also has some great commercials. The "Jake From State Farm" ad also gained some traction from fans on YouTube, but strangely not as much from the official State Farm channel itself. The most watched version of "Jake" on their channel had only 21,700 views.
YouTube user "JoanneBryant94583," however, simply re-uploaded the original commercial to her own YouTube channel (she presumably thought it was funny and wanted to preserve it and share with friends). Her version received 288,000 views and shows up in YouTube's search engine before the State Farm's official video. This most likely happened because State Farm did not put any TrueView promotion behind the official version, so it lost favor in YouTube's algorithm. The "bootleg" version has become the "official" version as far as YouTube search is concerned. And, of course, State Farm, has no interest in sending their fans a DMCA Takedown Notice just because the ad is getting more attention on the "JoanneBryant94583" YouTube channel and other fan channels - the more uploads and parodies, the more attention State Farm gets.
And yet even without paid promotion, this funny ad took on a life of its own, as fans made their own versions of the video with their own dynamic of the furtive husband, the mistrustful wife, and the unassuming call center employee. Here's a version from Third Guy Productions, with Jake both hapless and shirtless. It has been viewed 24,000 times.
YouTube Videos: Social Shares Across the Internet
So where are all these YouTube shares taking place? Well, YouTube videos can of course be shared and commented on not just YouTube, but on Facebook and Twitter as well. For Geico, its official videos were being shared 94.2% of the time on Facebook, 4.1% of the time on YouTube, and 1.7% of the time on Twitter. The videos of their creator fans were shared 85.2% of the time on Facebook, 13.7% of the time on YouTube, and 1.1% of the time on Twitter.
State Farm's official videos are being shared 87.2% of the time on Facebook, 7.9% of the time on YouTube and 4.9% of the time on Twitter. Their fan-created vides or being shared 68.7% of the time on Facebook, 25.6% of the time on YouTube, and 5.7% of the time on Twitter.
State Farm's audience doubled the views of the official channel, and creators produced 6 times more videos that State Farm's official channel. More than 1,400 creators created 1,700 videos that received 4.8 million views at 142,000 social actions. Geico's creators also doubled the views of the official channel, but fans created 76 more times the videos than the official channel. More than 4,800 creators created 6,800 videos that received 62.8 million views at 1.8 million social actions.
State Farm is doing very well, but Geico is winning the YouTube battle for audience among YouTube fans.