Rethinking Viral Videos

On the 17th of February, 2011, Datu Puti released a one-minute edit of its most recent commercial starring Manny Pacquiao.  While this in and of itself is not unusual, the mechanism through which they chose to do so was – they put it up on YouTube first. My friends from TBWA, the agency that developed the ad, were vocal and persistent in sharing the link on Facebook and Twitter.

To say “it went viral” is to understate how quickly my social network feeds became clogged with reposts. This was a bona fide online hit. The dialogue was witty, the subject matter entertaining. My sister posted it to her Facebook feed. So did many of my friends.

(Haven’t seen it? It’s here.

Go watch it; it’s worth your time and effort.)

What follows – and I need to be clear about this – is in no way an indictment of the work that Datu Puti, TBWA, and their unnamed production house have poured into the ad. It’s clear that this is work to be proud of. I liked the ad; the only reason I didn’t put it on my own Facebook Wall and Twitter feed is that most of my network had already reposted it.

There is one thing that bothers me about the video, and it has less to do with the video itself than with how the public received it.

For a great viral video, it doesn’t seem to have a lot of views online.

Let me be clearer: at the time of this writing (noon on 28 February 2011, a full 11 days after it was released), the video has 476,236 views on YouTube. I’ve found two other reposts on YouTube with 47,939 views and 19,843 views respectively. Beyond that… nothing. No Vimeo posts, no Facebook video posts.

The grand total is 544,018 views. Let’s round it up and call it 600,000 views to be on the safe side.

From one perspective, 600,000 views over 11 days is fantastic.

And from another, it’s terrible. We have 22.5 million Facebook user accounts in the country. For a “viral video” to have only 600,000 views says something about how our market responds to Web videos.

This leads me down several avenues of thought:

      1) Regardless of what Yahoo-Nielsen and Universal McCann say, video watching in the country is not as widespread as one would think. I blame user experience for this – I typically wait fifteen to twenty minutes to buffer a three minute video. An hourlong Webcast I subscribe to takes around five hours to load (at home, on my less congested Internet connection, it takes just two and a half.)

      The “video on demand” paradigm breaks down in the face of Third World Internet. After all, the Internet is full of distractions, and the user presented with a choice between waiting for a video to buffer and the chance to see something interesting right now will usually choose to be distracted right now. Also, time and bandwidth are finite and costly. If we want users to wait for videos to buffer, we need to provide incentives – something most agencies and advertisers don’t consider when they deploy Web videos.

      2) This opens up further questions. If Filipinos are watching videos online, what, exactly, are people watching, if not content developed for this market? How many videos do they consume in a session? How long are the videos they watch? How long do they wait for videos to load?

      And how do we get answers to these questions?

      3) The numbers aside, I can’t fault TBWA and Datu Puti for their strategy. They already had the TVC. Putting it online was a cost-effective way to maximize it. They didn’t need to shoot additional footage or develop new content for this video.

      I also need to point out that there are audiences online that cannot be reached any other way, who would not otherwise have seen the ad on television. After all, you can’t see the ads that come with TV shows if you don’t watch television. The advent of BitTorrent – merely the most recent iteration of peer-to-peer file sharing technology – has virtually ensured that a particular segment of the market no longer has a need for “appointment TV.”

      If I had a TVC, I would seed it online for exactly these reasons – to maximize the investment in the ad and to reach these online-only audiences.

      4) That said, for a viral video to actually “go viral”, marketers need to provide reasons for people to share it. The Pacquiao video provided these reasons as part of its content – it was amusing and topical. Many Web videos fail to be spread because they’re not interesting or engaging enough.

      Content that says “please forward” sounds desperate but sometimes works. As the discipline of digital marketing matures, I expect we’ll see more and more sophisticated mechanisms to get people to share content online.

      5) There is no easy justification for campaigns that rely on Web-only video. Compared to other online marketing tactics, Web video is expensive and not particularly engaging. Social media marketing can cover most of the online market, which makes Web video a costly adjunct to a social media marketing campaign, at best. This bodes poorly for Web video efforts like

      6) Lately I’ve come to suspect that there are huge differences between how the different socio-economic classes use their online time and access. One of the key differences between these groups is likely to be video consumption. I strongly suspect that more affluent people view more videos online per session (and go online more times in the same span of time). This is another instance where what is obvious is, sadly, not supported by research – there is no published research that supports this behavioral split between the socio-economic classes. On the other hand, there is no research that debunks it, either.

    Does it sound obvious? It does to me, too. But verifying or debunking this theory has real implications for marketing strategy and audience segmentation.

    These criticisms aside, there is no doubt in my mind that Web videos are here to stay. There’s too much investment in them, for one thing – and in many cases the presence of money, interest and opportunities often precede a shift in market behavior. The next Datu Puti commercial may garner well over a million views – I simply don’t know. Pointing out what’s happening in the present is far easier, after all, than predicting the future.

    For the time being, though, the challenge remains: in a country of over 22 million Internet users, how can an online marketing campaign reach a significant portion of this audience? It seems that even Manny Pacquiao, formidable as he is, couldn’t provide the answer.


    @mannyneps is a digital marketing specialist with a top ten ad agency in Metro Manila.  He is frequently wrong.  This no longer embarrasses him.

    Rethinking Viral Videos,” was originally published on Manny’s Still Wrong and is republished here with permission.

    "People-Powered Markets" to hold exhibit-cum-trade fair in run-up to EDSA 25

    Business leaders, microentrepreneurs, and NGO workers will gather at the NBC Tent, Fort Bonifacio, Global City from Feb. 22-23 to celebrate the work of the private sector in providing poverty-stricken Filipinos with livelihood opportunities, and to commemorate the 25th anniversary of the People Power Revolution.

    The “People-Powered Markets” exhibit will also serve as venue for the participants to discuss and plan how to build on the work of companies and microfinance institutions in engaging enterprising Filipinos in poor communities and empowering them with funds, training, and outlets for their products.

    President Benigno Aquino III will attend the event.  Among the business leaders who will attend the event are Philippine Long Distance Company chair Manny V. Pangilinan,  Philippine Investment Management, Inc. president and chief executive officer Ramon del Rosario,  and renowned accountant-philanthropist  Washington Sycip.

    “We seek to bring about a People Power to transform the market into an instrument for shared progress for all Filipinos,” said Dan Songco, president and chief executive officer of the PinoyME Foundation, a key organizer of the exhibit.

    “I am inviting all Filipinos who believe that we can bring growth to our lives and to society through hard work and unity. The exhibit will not only show models on how we can participate in supporting microentrepreneurs, but also share knowledge and encouragement for people to start their own microenterprises.”


    People-Powered Markets also marks the 5th Year Anniversary of PinoyME, which was started by former president Corazon Aquino in 2006 with the aim of reducing poverty by championing microenterprise and microfinance. In one of her last speeches, the People Power icon urged Filipinos to join PinoyME in its mission.

    “Over the past year, I have been inspired by the noble work of microfinance institutions which have reached out to the entrepreneurial poor, giving them the means to uplift their lives through honest and hard work. To many of us, livelihood loans of P1,000 to P10,000 may not mean much, but to those outside the fringes of the mainstream economy, these are vital in tiding them over from day to day. The small but steady income from their micro-enterprises makes it possible for them to eat decent meals, to send their children to school and to nurture dreams of a better life,” Aquino said.

    In a mere five years, PinoyME has established itself as a driving force in different microfinance and microenterprise areas.   Today, it is more than a source for funds; it has stimulated more academic research on microfinance, gathered information experts to help automate microfinance institutions, and helped microentrepreneurs find outlets for their products. Not surprisingly, its growth has coincided with the advancement of microfinance in the country. Microfinance now reaches more than 5 million Filipinos through the services of 500 microfinance institutions with a combined portfolio of P12 billion.

    Value chains that work for the people

    PinoyME has not been alone in efforts to promote microenterprise as poverty reduction tool. There have been various allies–from companies and universities to microfinance institutions and consolidators. The unity of these institutions to support microentrepreneurs will be showcased as  “value chains that work for the people.”

    A value chain is a physical representation of the various processes that are involved in producing goods. For instance, there is a chain between Jollibee Foods Corporations and farmers from Nueva Ecija, Bukidnon, and Nueva Vizcaya. Jollibee partners with the farmers for its requirement of fresh ingredients like onions and bell peppers. However, the two would not have been able to transact without the collaboration of The Catholic Relief Service Philippines, which promotes market-driven strategies to facilitate farmers’ participation in the mainstram market, and the National Livelihood Development Corporation, a government corporation mandated to provide for the credit needs of farmers. The chain hence is not merely between Jollibee and the farmers, but also includes CRS and the NLDC.

    Labeled by Lopa as a “reverse trade fair”, the exhibit is innovative in the sense that it allows microentrepreneurs to learn of ways of doing business with established companies by being part of their value chain. This is an inversion of the traditional trade fair wherein microentrepreneurs market their goods to the companies and to consumers.

    “On the other hand, businessmen can learn from these models and say ‘I want to use this model to meet my requirements and also help out the people in my community. Or a NGO could say ‘I want to be part of this value chain and organize people into a cooperative so they can meet the delivery requirements of a company’,” said Songco.

    “These are not just value chains but models of People Power. In a sense that is what we are celebrating and what we want to bring about more–People Power that has transcended the political and that makes a direct impact in the lives of people,” he added.

    People-Powered Markets will also feature product development clinics on niche marketing and seminars on how to partner with companies by being part of the value chain. Admission is free. For more information on PinoyME, please visit the website

    PH News you should know: 14 January 2010

    RH bill passage will help achieve country’s development goals, says solon” by Lira Dalangin-Fernandez

    “The passage of the Reproductive Health bill will give the Philippines a better record of achieving its Millennium Development Goals (MDG) on reducing infant mortality, improving maternal health and eliminating hunger and poverty, a leader of the House of Representatives said Thursday.

    Minority Leader Edcel Lagman thanked President Benigno Aquino III for listing the RH bill as one of the priority measures that will be up for discussion in the forthcoming meeting of the Legislative Executive Development Advisory Council (LEDAC).”

    Read more at the Philippine Daily Inquirer

    World Bank sees PH economy growing by 5-5.4%” by Michelle Remo

    In its latest publication, “Global Economic Prospects 2011,” the World Bank has set its growth forecast for the Philippines for this year and next at a range of 5 to 5.4 percent. This is slower than its 6.8 percent growth projection for the Philippines for 2010.

    “Crucial to this projection is the assumption that strong investor confidence, manifested in strong private investments and (favorable) consumer sentiment surveys, would be sustained by the government’s efforts to step up reforms in governance and to improve overall investment climate,” Eric Lee Borgne, senior economist of the World Bank for the Philippines, said during the launch of the publication on Thursday.

    Read more at Inquirer Business

    Higher 2010 growth seen by World Bank
    THE WORLD BANK has again revised its 2010 growth estimate for the Philippines, raising it to 6.8% from the 6.2% outlook issued last October.

    The adjustment, contained in the bank’s Global Economic Prospects Report that was released yesterday, is higher than the government’s 5-6% target — widely expected to have been breached last year given the 7.5% average as of September.

    The Philippine forecast is below the bank’s estimate of 9.3% for East Asia and the Pacific but well above projected global growth of 3.9%.

    It also compares to the International Monetary Fund and Asian Development Bank outlooks of 7% and 6.8%, respectively.

    The Washington-based institution, however, maintained that gross domestic product (GDP) growth would ease to 5% this year, below the government’s 7-8% target, before rising slightly to 5.4% in 2010.

    Read more at BusinessWorld

    NTC to hold public hearing on Minimum Broadband speed connection

    it is easier to be an asshole to words than to people

    The public is encouraged to go.

    Via Blog Watch’s Facebook:

    The National Telecommunications Commission will be holding a Public Hearing & Consultation regarding the Memorandum Order on Minimum Speed of Broadband Connection.

    What: Proposed Memorandum Order on “Minimum Speed of Broadband Connection”
    When: January 11, 2011 – Tuesday, 2:00pm
    Where: NTC Executive Conference Rm., 3rd Floor, NTC Building, BIR Road, East Triangle, Diliman, Quezon City

    Image credit: Courtesy, XKCD

    What Philippines must do to grow

    Makati Skyline
    The Philippines: How can we contribute towards its progress?
    According to Business World, The Joint Foreign Chambers submitted a paper to President Aquino entitled, “Arangkada Philippines 2010: A Business Perspective”  The JFC pointed out that the nation must focus on the following industries:

    • agribusiness;
    • information technology and business process outsourcing;
    • creative industries;
    • infrastructure;
    • manufacturing and logistics;
    • mining;
    • and tourism, medical travel and retirement.

    Click the links to read the full report.

    A must read.

    Aquino to protect big infra investors

    Aquino to protect big infra investors
    Philippine Daily Inquirer

    President Benigno Aquino III Thursday said that his administration would compensate investors prevented by the courts or Congress from collecting contractually agreed toll or user fees.

    “If for some reason, a court decision threatens the adjustment, the government will compensate the private concessionaire for the difference between what the tariff should have been under the formula and the tariff which it is actually able to collect,” the President said at the opening of the public-private partnership conference in Pasay City.

    Before some 500 foreign fund managers at the Marriott Hotel, Mr. Aquino unveiled this landmark policy that his economic team hoped would assuage overseas businessmen’s fears about their ability to recoup investments.

    “If we are truly interested in a square deal for all, then what we shake hands on, should be what endures,” he said. “To this end, what we will be doing in so far as solicited projects are concerned is to minimize your risk in a meaningful and fair manner.”

    Mr. Aquino said the government would provide investors with protection against so-called “regulatory risk” or the risk of being unable to recoup one’s investments due to changes in the local regulatory environment—a common complaint among foreign businesses operating in the Philippines.

    “Infrastructure can only be paid for from user fees or taxes,” he said.

    “When government commits to allow investors to earn their return from user fees, it is important that that commitment be reliable and enforceable. And if private investors are impeded from collecting contractually agreed fees—by regulators, courts, or the legislature—then our government will use its own resources to ensure that they are kept whole.”

    Seeking to lure back foreign investors, many of whom have been personally burned by soured investments or deterred by tales about the perils of doing business in the country, he said: “You cannot deal with a government where the right hand is offering a handshake while the left hand is trying to pick your pocket.”

    SLEx example

    Mr. Aquino gave the example of a private firm that agreed with the government on a specific formula for toll increases for the public’s use of a road it rehabilitated.

    Malaysian-backed South Luzon Tollways Corp. (SLTC), which holds the 30-year concession for the South Luzon Expressway (SLEx), was earlier stopped by the Supreme Court from implementing a new toll rate.

    The new rate, which is 250-percent higher than the existing toll, is meant to help the company recover the minimum of P12 billion it spent to rehabilitate and modernize the road.

    The additional funds will also allow the company to maintain world-class services at SLEx.

    The delay caused by the restraining order, which has since then been lifted, has cost SLTC up to P1 billion in foregone revenues.

    Market risk not covered

    “Commercial or market risk, which you are in the business of determining, will be borne by investors, as it should be,” the President said.

    Mr. Aquino said the guarantee he was giving was different from the “politically difficult guarantees” that past administrations had given.

    He cited the power supply contracts that committed government to buying electricity “regardless of what the actual demand was”—known as “take-or-pay.”

    Take-or-pay means that a company will still be able to collect payments even for energy it is not able to deliver due to lower-than-expected-demand from consumers.

    Honest, transparent

    Mr. Aquino said the contracting of projects under the public-private partnerships would be “clear, honest and transparent.”

    He unveiled 10 rail, road and airport projects to be formally put out to tender at the end of next year and worth a combined $3.4 billion.

    Break from past

    In an interview with the Inquirer, Finance Secretary Cesar Purisima said the new regulatory risk guarantee marked a crucial break from policies of past administrations which guaranteed investors’ “commercial risk.”

    “Back then, the government committed to pay a fixed amount whether the investors could sell [their product or service] or not,” he said.

    “That is how we got saddled with expensive power rates from these IPPs (independent power producers, contracted at the height of the 1990s power shortage),” he added.

    “Today, we will no longer guarantee commercial risk, but instead cover only regulatory risk for solicited projects.”

    Funding pool

    The finance secretary said the scheme would involve the creation of a funding pool, initially put up by government financial institutions, that will be, in turn, backed by guarantees from multilateral lending institutions like the World Bank and the Asian Development Bank.

    “If the investors cannot collect their agreed return on investment—for example, because of a court-issued injunction on a toll hike—the government will pay them the difference of the existing rate and the rate that they should be collecting,” Purisima said.

    He said this “regulatory” risk guarantee sought to preserve the sanctity of the contract.

    This also ensures that there are no sudden changes in government policies that may hinder a company from recovering its investment.

    Alistair Macdonald, head of the European Union delegation in the Philippines, said he welcomed the government’s pledges of fair play and transparency.

    “I think it’s something that’s extremely important that I was delighted to hear. The President … addressed precisely this question, which will also be very encouraging for the business community,” Macdonald said.

    Protest rally

    Activists staged a rally in front of Marriott Hotel at the launching of the public-private partnership (PPP) program.

    Senior Insp. Prudencio Lumapad said some 40 members of militant groups led by Bayan Muna held the demonstration at around 10:30 a.m.

    Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan) secretary general Renato Reyes Jr. said policemen took away the streamer carrying the message “Philippines not for sale!”

    Critics said the PPP program would bloat the country’s debt and speed up corporations taking over roles played by the government at the expense of public interest. With reports from Tina G. Santos and Agence France-Presse

    Aquino all set for international ‘debut’

    Aquino all set for international ‘debut’

    PRESIDENT Aquino will make his international debut on Friday in New York at the US-Asean Leaders’ Meeting and the UN General Assembly.

    The US-Asean Leaders’ Meeting is expected to result in the creation of an Asean-US Eminent Persons Group that will recommend the forging of a strategic partnership between Asean and the United States in the fields of political security, and economic and socio-cultural cooperation.

    On Thursday (Manila time), Aquino received the Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton Medal, the highest honor conferred by the College of Mount Saint Vincent, the alma mater of his late mother, former president Corazon Aquino.

    The award is named after the native New Yorker, saint and founder of the Sisters of Charity, Elizabeth Ann Seton, and is given to those with outstanding achievements, generosity of spirit and extraordinary self-sacrifice. President Corazon Aquino received the same award.

    Aquino said he is a “living testimony to People Power: the redemptive power of prayer” that “toppled the dictatorship, frustrated those who would try to revive its ways, sustained democracy and now, serves as the bones and sinews of our great mandate for reform.”

    He said Filipinos are now “working mightily to free themselves from slavery and poverty.” He said he is praying that Filipinos will remain free and prosperous long after his term.

    At the US-Asean Leaders’ Meeting, one issue expected to be discussed is Asean’s dispute with China on some islands in the South China Sea. China has opposed the US’ intervention in the Spratlys dispute.

    The Spratly islands are being claimed wholly or in part by China, the Philippines, Vietnam, Taiwan, and Malaysia.

    US President Barack Obama, President Aquino and Vietnamese President Nguyen Minh Triet are expected to hold a press conference after the meeting.

    Vietnam chairs the Asean for this year while the Philippines is the coordinator of the US-Asean Leaders Meeting.

    Aquino will also meet UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon and address the United Nations General Assembly.

    At the UNGA, Aquino is expected to call for international cooperation in addressing global issues. He will also discuss the Philippines’ commitment to fulfilling the Millennium Development Goals and reiterate the Philippines’ support for UN peacekeeping mission.

    Aquino on Thursday (Manila time) met with officials of the Synergos Institute and key civil society leaders from around the world to exchange ideas on active citizenship and participatory governance, as well as the possibility of pursuing a tripartite partnership with government.

    He also met with officials of the AES Corp. to discuss the possible expansion of the Masinloc power plant in Zambales.

    He received World Bank president Robert Zoellick and discussed how the WB could help develop crucial sectors of the economy and Mindanao.

    Aquino also talked business and trade opportunities with the RP-US Business Council during a dinner at the Benihana restaurant in New York City.

    Aquino also had a separate meeting with former US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger in New York (Wednesday in Manila) to get some insights on foreign relations.

    Aquino said Kissinger’s expertise in foreign relations is something that he cannot ignore. Kissinger is a political scientist who advised US Presidents Dwight Eisenhower, John F.Kennedy and Lyndon Johnson.

    He said Kissinger, a Harvard professor of government and foreign policy adviser for the Nixon and Ford administrations, could help guide his fledgling administration in its international relations.

    Finance Secretary Cesar Purisima, meanwhile, justified the governments hiring of a PR firm to “sell” the country. He said the firm Creab Gavin Anderson was paid $15,000 to help project a favorable image for the country in the foreign business media.