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Viral Video Engagement Is A Serious Game

New report uses Quantemo (the neuromarketing research lab) to glean insights into how users locate, respond to, and engage with internet video

Via: One To One Interactive

Emotion, Engagement and Internet Video

Jeffrey Bardzell, Ph.D., Shaowen Bardzell, Ph.D., and Tyler Pace

OTOinsights, the research arm of One to One Interactive, has released its third t=zero report, entitled Emotion, Engagement and Internet Video, available for free download.

In this report, OTOinsights present an analysis of viewer engagement with Internet video. Viewer engagement was measured using OTOinsights Quantemo™ system. Quantemo™ utilizes a multimodal approach that combines self-report and physiological data to holistically and reliably measure user engagement with digital media like Internet video. Analyzing the results from the various Quantemo™ data sources, they present a series of three insights concerning how users locate, respond to, and engage with Internet video.

Number Crunching - Internet Video Accounts for 90% of Consumer Internet Bandwidth

Internet video is one of the fastest growing entertainment media and among the most popular of all Internet activities. According to recent reports (July 2007, January 2008) from the Pew Internet & American Life Project, 57% of Internet users visit video sharing sites and 20% visit video sharing sites daily. Growth in Internet video consumption is highest among the key demographics of college-bound and educated 18-29-year-olds, 76% of which visit video sites daily. Additional high-growth demographics include women (11% view daily, up from 5% in 2007) and 30-49-year-olds (14% view daily, up from 7% in 2007).

Analysts expect the growth of Internet video to continue for the foreseeable future. Forrester predicts that the use of Internet video will triple by 2013. Additionally, videos consumed on mobile devices will double, and the creation/submission of user generated video is expected to increase five-fold in the next five years. Cisco, one of the primary providers of Internet backbone equipment, predicts that Internet bandwidth will continue to grow at a 46% annual compound growth rate, which is chiefly led by the ever increasing popularity of Internet video. According to Cisco, Internet video accounts for 90% of consumer Internet bandwidth.

The Phenomenon Of Viral Videos

The success of Internet video cannot be discussed without touching on the phenomenon of viral videos. Internet video is uniquely positioned to be easily shared with friends and colleagues. According to Pew, 57% of Internet video viewers share videos with friends, and 75% receive and watch videos sent from friends/colleagues. The ease and speed with which Internet video can be shared can result in massive viewership in a short period of time.

Compete, an Internet analytics firm, recently tracked the success of a viral video released in August 2006. Miss Teen USA competitor Caitlin Upton from South Carolina embarrassingly answered a question during the televised pageant competition. A video excerpt of her answer was posted to YouTube on August 25th and obtained over 200,000 views in less than 24 hours. Views grew exponentially each day, peaking at 1.6 million unique views on August 28th. As of July 2008, the video has over 29 million views and is the 51st most watched video of all time on

August 28th
Visits to Miss Teen South Carolina Videos
Each dot equals 1000 video plays

There is little doubt that Internet video is one of the great successes of the Internet and offers a new and growing medium for advertising materials. 

However, relatively little is known about how viewers engage with Internet video on an emotional level. The links between emotion and behavior are well established in marketing, but the ability to measure affective response to Internet video is still lacking. Developing methods to measure emotional response and engagement with Internet video is critical to the success of future Internet video advertising campaigns.

General Findings

Before introducing OTO specific insights, which are actionable findings targeted toward corporate viral video designers, they share several general findings to provide some important context.

First, data from the study do not suggest any correlation between engagement, emotion, and the length of a video. Long videos (three minutes or greater) and short videos (two minutes or less) are equally likely to have high or low engagement scores. This finding suggests that Internet videos do not need to be limited to sound bite productions or even standard television commercial length. Internet video viewers are willing to view longer productions so long as they’re engaging.

Second, the order in which videos were watched in the study had no noticeable effect on the engagement scores for those videos. Participants found a video engaging regardless of the sequence in which it was viewed. This finding supports the validity of the study data with evidence that participants did not tire out during the study thereby artificially deflating engagement scores for their final videos.

Third, according to the exit survey, participants overwhelmingly agreed (86%) that Internet video affects their current emotional state. In fact, many participants noted that they deliberately use Internet video to alter their moods. Participants sought out videos which projected the emotional state they wished to achieve (e.g., selecting humorous videos to lighten one’s mood).

In the report subsequent sections, they summarize three major findings from this study under the headings of the primary insights derived from analysis of the QPI (Quantemo™ Physiological Index), emotional descriptors, user review, and survey data.


The findings of this report suggest that combining self-report and physiological data to measure engagement with viral videos is a fruitful process. Self-report data provides a necessary means for interpreting physiological data, while physiological data provides an unbiased look at a participant’s level of physiological engagement. Combining the two types of data yields a powerful, holistic representation of engagement that can be used, in part, to measure the efficacy of an Internet video.

OTOinsights Quantemo™ system is an industry-leading platform for holistically measuring engagement with digital media like Internet video. A unique and diverse multimodal approach to measuring engagement combined with a proprietary scoring system yields a valuable, single-point measure of use engagement in the Quantemo™ Engagement Index (QEI). The QEI offers a convenient and reliable measure for benchmarking and investigating the effectiveness of digital media campaigns. Additionally, the QEI offers more detailed feedback regarding viewer reaction to digital media than the standard rating systems.

The study presented in the report was not designed to discover a “be all, end all” strategy for Internet video. However, when combined, several of the Insights in the report inform current Internet video strategies in novel ways.

Emotional engagement is at the core of Internet video watching, so understanding the relationships between a given video effort and how people will react emotionally is key.

About OTOInsights

OTOinsights is a collection of primary and secondary research offerings that is breaking new ground in neuromarketing to offer clients advanced and scientific levels of insights into how consumers engage with their brands across the landscape of new media channels. OTOinsights is comprised of t=zero and Quantemo. t=zero is OTOinsights’ secondary research offering that focuses on the emerging media platforms and trends which are changing society’s media consumption habits. Quantemo is a primary research lab that takes a scientific approach to measuring a target audience’s emotional reactions to digital media to establish measures of engagement.

About One to One Interactive
Complete One-To-One Solutions for Brands, Agencies, and Publishers

Established in 1997, One to One Interactive assembles solutions for brands, agencies, and publishers executing one-to-one marketing strategies. By bringing together a leading digital marketing agency, a most comprehensive portfolio of permission marketing platforms, unique performance based social media networks, and cutting edge neuromarketing research techniques, One to One Interactive builds informed and creative customer/constituent strategies on the belief that digital media’s ability to enable engaging one-to-one dialogues is the future of marketing.