Sex and Violence Key Ingredients for Successful Viral Ads?

Sex and Violence Key Ingredients for Successful Viral Ads?

From Subservient Chickens to Brawny Men: A Comparison of Viral Advertising
to Television Advertising

Two researchers at the University of Louisiana conducted a study comparing TV ads to successful viral ads spread through the web. A key difference they uncovered was the amount of viral ads containing sexual and violent content versus the amount of TV ads with similar content.

Research Methodology:
Two professional coders were assigned to analyze 235 TV ads randomly selected from and 266 viral internet ads. The coders evaluated various aspects of these ads, including the type of company creating the ads, the industry the intent of the ad, and the content used in each ad. Comparisons of these characteristics were made between TV ads and viral ads online.

The cliche phrase “sex sells” traditionally used in reference to magazine and TV ads might ring even more true for ads that go viral online. This study implies that users could be much more likely to view online ads that contain sex (or violence) and to share those ads with others in their network.

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Article Insights:

  • Ads that achieve “viral” status online are significantly more likely to contain appeals to sex than television ads.
  • Such viral online ads are also significantly more likely to contain violent content than TV ads.
Access The Study Here
Editor’s Note:
Citation:  Lance, P. & Golan, G. J. (2006). From subservient chickens to brawny men: A comparison of viral advertising to television advertising. Journal of Interactive Advertising, 6(2).

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