Not All Viral Videos Are Good Content Marketing Two recent ads illustrate this point. One was entertaining, the other spurred viewers to seek out the product.

By Sarah Austin

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.


I love cat videos as much as any other girl, but that doesn't necessarily mean that ads with cats are a sure way to get me to buy cat food.

Don't get me wrong, the BuzzFeedVideo sponsored by Friskies titled "Dear Kitten" is a fun way to spend three minutes, but the eight seconds that talks about wet food coming in armored claw-proof containers at the two-minute mark and the 15 seconds of static ad at the end of the video didn't make a lasting impression, especially since I don't own a cat at the moment.

If I decided to get one, Friskies might get my pet-food purchases, but the big winner would be PetSmart, which would sell me a kitten, a bed for my kitten, a $300 electronic litter box so I didn't have to scoop said kitten's poo, and a laser because that 22 seconds in the video spent on laser pointers totally made me want to play with kittens and lasers.

Related: 5 High-Powered Animal Celebrities Who Earn More Than You Do

You may have noticed that I trailed off there for a minute. Cat videos do that to you. You watch a video, and then you say to the person sitting next to you, "Did you see that cat named Maru that jumps into the big box? It got like 80 million YouTube views. Isn't that insane?" Which, of course, is the problem with most viral videos. They aren't content, they are filler. We watch them and we never know what they were about, or why we care, and so 16 million views later they haven't made a lasting impression.

Let me tell you about a different viral video. It was not as cheap to make as the Friskies cat video, which likely I could have made for $300 on a weekend.

Kevin Hart and Dave Franco star in the Madden NFL 15 video from EA Sports, and there is less than 15 seconds of footage of the game that it is an ad for. I am so out of touch with sports I had to ask a friend why it was called Madden (he was a commentator who has been part of the EA franchise since 1984). I don't own an Xbox One, Xbox 360 or PlayStation.

I don't have the foggiest as to the rules to football. I love to go to games, eat food, yell and jump up and down when everyone else does, but I have no delusion that I am an NFL fan or a gamer. However, I had to be talked out of buying the game and a console to play it on, because I am competitive, I like Twitter wars and I couldn't get the song out of my head.

Related: YouTube Looks Back at the Biggest Viral Trends of 2014 in Epic Video Mashup

Madden Season is content marketing. I watched the video and then went looking for how much it would cost to buy the game and a console. I then watched other trailers for the game. I basically went from never having heard of Madden to deciding I was going to own it in three minutes.

As a marketer this is everything you want in an ad. I was entertained, I was informed, I was ready to buy. EA is good at this -- it has been for years. Even before there was a YouTube in 2002, EA was doing videos that passed by email that depicted how various countries celebrated wins at World Cup as ads for its FIFA franchise. The ads resonated with people who were only interested in soccer once every four years and had no understanding of the game, but it worked because they were emotional, well informed and sharable.

Those same rules apply today. The best content marketing doesn't feel like an ad -- it feels like content.

Friskies missed the other rule for the best content marketing: it makes you want to go get the product right now. BuzzFeed is new to the game, so while I'm sure they made a mint off the ad, Friskies should not count it as a huge success.

One last thought: I'm not responsible for you singing the Madden Season song the rest of the day, or adding the phrase, "I will write the check your face can't cash, and make you pay your bills" to your vocabulary.

What do you think are some of the most effective pieces of content marketing? Let us know in the comments section below.

Related: In Hilarious Video, Ad Agency Thanks Employees by Letting Them Do This...For, Like, a Whole Minute

Wavy Line
Sarah Austin

Entrepreneur Leadership Network Contributor

Author & Podcaster

Three-time venture-backed startup founder. Reality TV star, Bravo's 'Start-Ups: Silicon Valley'. Vanity Fair calls her "America's Tweetheart." Today, Sarah is Head of Content for KAVA, the DeFi for crypto startup company based in Silicon Valley. Previously Forbes, Oracle and SAP.

Editor's Pick

'Catastrophic': Here's What You Should Know About the Debt Ceiling Crisis — And How a Default Could Impact Your Business
I Helped Grow 4 Unicorns Over 10 Years That Generated $18 Billion in Online Revenues. Here's What I've Learned.
Want to Break Bad Habits and Supercharge Your Business? Use This Technique.
Don't Have Any Clients But Need Customer Testimonials? Follow These 3 Tricks To Boost Your Rep.
Why Are Some Wines More Expensive Than Others? A Top Winemaker Gives a Full-Bodied Explanation.

Related Topics

Business News

'All Hell Is Going to Break Loose': Barbara Corcoran Issues Warning About Real Estate Market, Interest Rates

The "Shark Tank" star appeared on FOX Business' "The Clayman Countdown" this week.

Business News

7 of the 10 Most Expensive Cities to Live in the U.S. Are in One State

A new report by U.S. News found that San Diego is the most expensive city to live in for 2023-2024, followed by Los Angeles. New York City didn't even rank in the top 10.

Business News

Roman Roy's 'Succession' T-Shirt Is a $7 Boys Shirt From Walmart — And Now It's Sold Out

Eagle-eyed fans noticed the uncharacteristic wardrobe choice in the series finale.

Money & Finance

3 Ways to Create Multiple (Big) Streams of Income

Here are three ways to create multiple streams of income. These strategies require effort and resources but offer significant financial potential.

Science & Technology

She's Been Coding Since Age 7 and Presented Her Life-Saving App to Tim Cook Last Year. Now 17, She's on Track to Solve Even Bigger Problems.

Angelina Tsuboi, a full-stack mobile and web developer who also happens to be a pilot, has always been solution-oriented.


The Real Reason Why The Return to Office Movement is Failing is Revealed in New Study

There is a vivid sign of the disconnect between employees and their workplace, a glaring indication that companies need to revise their scripts to improve their hybrid and remote work policies.