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21 November 2011

Three Fundamental Keys to Successful Viral Marketing Over Mobile Phones

Keywords: Websites, advertising, internet, marketing, mobile, peers, survey, teens, viral, Eastern Asia, SMS, experiment, mobile phone, word-of-mouth (WoM),

Viral mobile advertising is booming, especially among teenagers. A Journal of Advertising Research study makes three important discoveries for this key demographic group. Male teens are more likely to “buzz” (or pass on) a viral campaign on their mobile phones if they value feeling connected to their peers, use their mobile phones as a means to express their personality, and are already loyal to the brand. This makes viral mobile marketing particularly useful for “brand stretching” (promoting a new product with a current brand).

Take aways

  • Teenagers are a lucrative target group for mobile viral campaigns because they
    1. are very active mobile phone users, 
    2. feel a strong personal attachment to their phone, 
    3. find it important to stay connected with their peers.
  • Teens who perceive loyalty and commitment to a brand a more willing to “buzz” a campaign for that particular brand. Therefore, mobile viral campaign can be a powerful tool in the context of brand stretching (promoting a new product with a current brand). 
  • Mobile viral campaign can be effective in spreading “buzz” even when teens are not that interested in the advertised brand.

Study information

  • The question?

    Which factors affect young consumers’ willingness to “buzz” a mobile-based viral campaigns?

  • Who?

    1705 males between 13 and 18 years

  • Where?


  • How?

    A viral mobile phone campaign was created for a new men’s hairstyling wax. Teens were encouraged to request a sample of hairstyling wax, try it, and take pictures of their own hairstyles and use MMS to send them to a contest website. Then, they were asked to “buzz” the campaign to their friends. If a friend participated in the photo contest as well, they received a coupon for a free music download. After the mobile viral campaign ended, participants were invited to take a survey.

Facts and findings

  • Male teenagers who feel their personality is reflected by their mobile phone are the most likely to “buzz” a viral mobile phone campaign to their friends. 
  • Brand loyalty and interest in being connected with peers also increased the likelihood of “buzzing”.
  • Teen males are willing to “buzz” with a mobile phone even when they are not loyal to the particular brand, however they are unwilling to do so face-to-face without a strong commitment to the brand.