Viral marketing or viral advertising is a business strategy that uses existing social networks to promote a product. Its name refers to how consumers spread information about a product with other people in their
Viral advertising is personal and, while coming from an identified sponsor, it does not mean businesses pay for its distribution. Most of the well-known viral ads circulating online are ads paid by a sponsor company, launched either on their own platform (company webpage or
The ultimate goal of marketers interested in creating successful viral marketing programs is to create
The term "viral marketing" has also been used
The emergence of "viral marketing", as an approach to advertisement, has been tied to the popularization of the notion that ideas spread like viruses. The field that developed around this notion, memetics, peaked in popularity in the 1990s. As this then began to influence marketing
The term viral strategy was first used in marketing in 1995, in a pre-digital marketing era, by a strategy team at Chiat/Day advertising in LA (now TBWA LA) for the launch of the first PlayStation for Sony Computer Entertainment. Born from a need to combat huge target cynicism the insight was that people reject things pushed at them but seek out things that elude them. Chiat/Day created a 'stealth' campaign to go after influencers/opinion leaders, using street teams for the first time in brand marketing and layered an intricate omni-channel web of info and intrigue. Insiders picked up on it and spread the word. Within 6 months PlayStation was number one in its category—Sony's most successful launch in history.
There is debate on the origination and the popularization of the specific term viral marketing, though some of the earliest uses of the current term are attributed to the
Among the first to write about viral marketing on the Internet was the
Bob Gerstley was among the first to write about
In early 2013 the first ever Viral Summit was held in Las Vegas. It attempted to identify similar trends in viral marketing methods for various media.