Investigating the factors that contributes most to the virality of a social media video advertisement

  • Vaishali Agarwal Associate Professor Indus Business Academy, Bangalore
  • Vastav Tyagi Executive Copywriter and Client Servicing at Creative Inc., Gurugram
  • S. Shivangi Assistant Professor Indus Business Academy, Bangalore
Keywords: Social Transmission, Virality and online advertising.


YouTube has emerged as a very popular advertising medium in the past few years. Many marketers use this platform as a launch pad for their branding campaign. However, success is not always guaranteed with some advertisements gaining major traction whilst others’ effectiveness becomes questionable with poor traction. Thus, we are aware that social transmission is frequent and important but researchers are not yet clear about why certain content is more viral than others (Berger and Milkman 2011). In this research, we attempt to sift out the factors that contribute most to the ‘virality’ of any advertisement. We define virality as the average of likes, comments, dislikes, shares and hits for the advertisement. Our research builds up further on other research such as Berger and Milkman (2011) and Godes and Mayzlin (2009) within the Indian context by initially identifying 18 themes that were most commonly found in the advertisements here. The sample for identifying the themes was obtained from Youtube and was marked by 20 respondents on a scale of 1 to 7 based upon the degree of presence of the themes identified. Regression, factor analysis and a confirmatory factor analysis were conducted to finally arrive at a list of 7 factors. Though the adjusted R-square value was on the lower side as is the case in most such studies, our exploratory research is one of the first few such studies conducted within the Indian context and adds to our knowledge on virality in online advertising.