If the objective is to drive brand awareness, branded entertainment optimized for press features, social shares or audience growth is the best route. This is typically measured by brand trackers and surveys in the traditional TV world, but less often measured in the digital world. Almost every digital marketing team has a set of goals for the year, they usually include site traffic, social followers, impressions and engagement. Viral video gives you the opportunity to more narrowly define "brand awareness" while reaching into the new (and more effective) age of public relations and the difficult-yet-sought-after metric of shares. If tens of thousands of people share your content, your message becomes a part of culture, it's being disseminated for you. The press will not usually feature a video with a heavy promotional call to action because they want to get paid for that, not give it away for free, their business runs on ad revenue. Having a brand in a video in of itself decreases likelihood for sharing, a promotional call to action decreases that likelihood significantly more.
This is why it's important to decide before you ever even have a concept whether sales or brand awareness are more important to you, doing both at once increases risk of failing at both, although there are examples where it has worked. We recently sold out the warehouse of a major apparel brand and doubled retail sales with just 250,000 views on a very narrowly targeted video campaign. Because our focus was sales, there are few social shares and no press features for the campaign, but the videos converted.
There are cases when a video can achieve both conversions and shares/press, like NordicTrack's World's Largest Treadmill Dance. The primary goal was brand awareness, which we measured by the 60k+ social shares and 150k+ press features it garnered, including the dance act being taken onto America's Got Talent. NordicTrack's goal was to make treadmills fun, less of a drudgery, thus our concept. Fortunately, the concept also converted by helping people to see themselves having fun along with an effective use of ad re-marketing.
The video has now logged seven figures in sales with a 400% ROI and continues to convert every month. It sparked 20 million views worth of dozens of user generated videos of people dancing on treadmills as a result, with one of them being featured on Ellen. The video influenced culture and created a trend that was associated positively with the NordicTrack brand and intended message. Case in point for most direct response videos, our follow-up to the treadmill dance video only has 1.2M views and few press features yet has driven comparable sales, although it has not significantly influenced culture or created a trend.