It’s safe to say every business wants to create viral ads. In today’s modern age, viral marketing represents a powerful competitive advantage. And thankfully, it’s not impossible to realize significant benefits from viral ads.

When you think of viral ads, the first thing on your mind may be the hilarious or tear-jerking super bowl ads. While there is no exact measure of what makes viral ads, anything that gets heavy traction in a short period qualifies as being a viral ad.

YouTube and Facebook are among the top media channels, where millions of users create, see, and share videos and photos. These platforms have become major avenues for brands that want to reach billions of users without killing their marketing budget.

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This post was updated in June 2021

What Are Viral Ads?

When you think of Old Spice, chances are, you have a picture of the Old Spice Man in your head. His fast-paced and hilarious initial commercial went on to get millions of views on social media. And so the brand kept its momentum going by doing an entire series of ads. The man has become such an icon that people dress up as him for Halloween.

Considering what you know about Old Spice ads, you may already have a clue on what viral ads are.

Viral ads may include video, photo, or audio ads that gather a significant amount of interest in a short period of time. The goal of viral marketing is to ultimately affect future sales of a company through an effective message that spreads like wildfire among current and potential users. The idea of viral ads is for users to share the ad on their social media channels.

Typically, viral ads can get millions of views in its first week. When brands make viral ads that resonate with their audience, the content can spread like wildfire. As a result, the engagement, brand awareness, and sales of the company increase.

viral ads and video advertising

Things to Keep in Mind When Creating Viral Ads

While there is no guaranteed way to make ads go viral, there are points you can remember to ensure it takes off with the best chance of achieving viral status.

Targeting your audience

No matter how great your ad is, it won’t become viral if the right audience does not see it. If you want to create viral ads, you have to know who your target audience is and where they spend most of their time online.

And remember that your ad won’t go viral on its own. Brands need to create the ideal message that can be understood by the right people. When this message generates interest, your audience would want to share it with their peers.

If budget is not a problem, you may commission research about your target audience before you start planning your viral ads. Through this, you will find out who is already using your services or products. Knowing the defining characteristics of your customer base will allow you to tailor ads that speak directly to them. Some of the factors you need to know include age, time zone, location, spending power, interests, language, and stage of life.

Making a visual strategy

Creators plan the visual strategy of an ad before it is released. This guides the audience to understand the brand more through visual cues like images and videos.

The goal of viral marketing is to tell an effective story, and this cannot be achieved without the help of visual elements that appeal to the audience. The visual strategy needs to align with your brand image. For example, you may have noticed the color blue is never absent from Pepsi ads.

There are many techniques you can employ in your ad. One effective example is the conscious use of color psychology. This trick is a must for viral video ads since it could affect the tonality and emotion of the audience. The colors of fonts, backgrounds, and clothes are key branding elements, so it’s crucial to examine what color palette should be used.

Creating emotional appeal

Many viral ads become successful because of their use of emotional appeal. However, this is hard to get right. Audiences respond to the emotional message of viral ads more than the text, or video itself. So if you want individuals to buy your products or services, try to rely on some of the most-shared emotional content, which can either be inspiration, happiness, or friendship. Voice overs also do wonders to draw out emotion among viewers.

If you’re confused about which emotion to use, take a look at the advantages people can gain from your company. You can use this data to inspire emotion. For example, viral ads of the Samsung Galaxy rely on friendship, family, and building a connection. All the images you use should also reflect the values of your brand.

Another clear example of a company that has nailed emotional appeal is Coca-Cola. In its Choose Happiness campaign, it encourages its audience to share memories that make them happy. This drives the brand to be associated with positivism. Also, take a good look at viral ads of PETA. Most images use fear to inspire people to think of animals whose lives are taken due to animal testing.

Publishing at the right time

One integral part of ad planning is knowing when to publish ads. One of the factors that can affect your decision is the location of your customers since this will dictate what time they are online. This quality will be the basis of when your ads can gain the highest amount of visibility.

In a time where people are hounded with hundreds of ads per day, you have to consider when you can get the best return on investment. There is no universal specific time when you should post ads since it depends on what industry you are part of.

It is not a secret that many marketers have paid their way to come up on newsfeeds, but the goal of viral ads is not to be intrusive. Audiences are more likely to engage with ads if they’ve consented to watch them, such as when they see it being shared by a colleague or a distant relative.

Knowing the right channel

The advertising landscape has diversified immensely. At first glance, brands seem to have an endless possibility where they could publish ads. Planning where to publish potential viral ads are determined by who your target audience is. Consider cross-media strategies such as using both Facebook and YouTube. These platforms provide the best tools for advertising, engagement, and analytics. If you want to maximize your ad visibility, be acquainted with algorithm changes, and tweak your ads depending on these changes.

If you fail to choose the right channel, you might as well say goodbye to your viral marketing goal since it would be extremely hard to inspire interest in an online space where users are not interested in your product.

Creating unpredictable ads

When you see something unexpected, it rattles your brain. With thousands of viral ads out there, how do you ensure your content can be remembered by your audience? The trick is to use unique tactics, such as doing something unexpected.

This fresh and new content will come as a shock to your audience, and this will stand out to them. Then, it will encourage them to engage with the brand and share it with their peers. There are a lot of ways you can approach an unpredictable ad. Thai companies are masters in using this strategy.

Reinforcing the ad

No matter how great your ad is, your audience will forget it if they only see it one time. When you’ve grabbed the attention of people, you need to give them more. Use algorithm techniques to ensure your ad keeps on popping in their newsfeed. You may even create progressive ads with the same spokesperson, as what AT&T did with their famous AT&T girl. Creating a series of viral ads will strengthen your campaign and brand awareness.

Making engagement easier

It would be nearly impossible to create viral ads if you do not enable downloading, embedding, and sharing of your material. If you want more people to see your ad, use social media tools to allow it to spread. When people can share your message and content, or embed it in their blogs and websites, more people can see it. Also, enable and encourage discussions on your video by turning on comments. This tip allows people to mention friends. Facebook and other social media platforms favor posts with high engagements.

viral ads and video

Advantages of Viral Ads

Ever wonder why companies pay millions of dollars to create super bowl ads? It’s because there’s a chance that ads go viral with millions of people watching simultaneously. In this section, you will find out the benefits of making an ad go viral.

Fast growth

The idea of instant gratification appeals to many people, but it is rare for companies to experience fast and immediate growth. Fortunately, viral ads can make this happen for you. Your company can become an overnight success if you release an ad that can make way for explosive growth in a short period.

The ALS Ice Bucket Challenge is an example of a campaign that went viral overnight. When it launched, the campaign raised more than $115 million in just two months. Overall, the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge had more than 17 million participants, including A-list businessmen and celebrities, like and Bill Gates and Oprah Winfrey.

More audience

Viral ads enable companies to reach millions of new people, which can improve engagement, word of mouth, and sales. These perks are exactly what happened when Fyre Festival signed up models and celebrities such as Bella Hadid for their video campaign. Model Kendall Jenner was even allegedly paid $250,000 for an Instagram post to announce the launch of tickets. While the festival turned out to be a scam, this does not erase the fact that it’s one of the best examples of viral promotion.

Even if you don’t have a huge budget, you can still achieve viral status. When you do reach it, you may even be featured on news channels like ABC or NBC. And imagine how these big media industry names can help your brand sales skyrocket.


One of the major features that characterize viral ads is viewers will do much of the work. This cuts down the expenses of the company to disperse the message, such as buying ad pages. Even if brands decide to do paid social media advertising, its costs are significantly less than traditional media advertising.

Build brand credibility

Perhaps the bulls-eye every company wants to hit with their viral ads is to create content that’s so credible it generates a personal connection with the users. Think of brand credibility as similar to how an election works. Someone is more likely to vote for candidates they recognize and trust, right? The same thing can also be said in business. However, keep in mind that the only way you can maintain credibility is if you have a top-tier product.

Do You Have What It Takes to Create Compelling Viral Ads?

Whether you want to increase sales for your small business or get your brand off the ground, it is important to put in effort and time in creating viral ads. Despite all the advantages of going viral, remember that it can be a double-edged sword. Examine first if you can meet the potential high demand. But if you succeed in making viral ads, there’s no denying it can work miracles for your business.

Need help crafting the perfect ad? Submit a project at Bunny Studio and we’ll help you succeed!