With people browsing the web using increasingly smaller screens, such as laptop and phones, combined with the rise of ad-blocking tools such as Adblock and Noscript, the power of traditional Internet ads are being questioned, leaving many promoters looking for new avenues to market their products and services. Today, there is a new type of marketing campaign, intended to integrate with popular trends and content of social media, promoters are making memes.
An (Internet) meme is an idea or concept which evolves over time; usually seen in text-image format or video format via vines, which are video clips spanning from five to thirty seconds. The majority of memes are funny combinations of images and/or videos describing common everyday thoughts or situations many people experience on a day-to-day when shopping, dating, or simply hanging out; other memes contain more serious messages, dealing with politics and even philosophy.
Furthermore, memes can potentially go “viral”, meaning it spreads throughout the internet due to large numbers of people sharing or creating their own variations. A viral meme could grow up to millions of viewers, even the term meme is widespread, as many people the internet have stated the term “meme” itself has surpassed even the searches for “Jesus” looking at Google trend data.
Ignoring the overwhelming popularity of memes, another important factoid is their advantages over ads in terms of grabbing user’s attention. Marketing Weekly reported in a blog post,
“Nectar-owner Aimia, recorded 30,000 minutes of data, of around 15,000 digital ads. It found that only 35% of digital display ads received any views at all. And, of those, only 9% of ads received more than a second’s worth of attention”
one can suspect this is degrees lower than the amount of time we spend looking at memes. Likely the reason we pay more attention to memes is that funny or interesting thoughts connect to us emotionally in ways a regular ad wouldn’t be capable of, leaving a subtle but, far more potent impression on the consumer’s mind.
The hope produces memes that can be used to augment an agenda or product has been a hit or miss. The dilemma is stylistic, consumers are rather averse to memes that appear obvious in their attempts to promote content, forcing content creators to be stealthily in their marketing producing content with the appearance that the content’s sole intent is enjoyment or to inform, and not a part of an overall marketing scheme.
Overall, the effect of memes in marketing has been a success for a few that have tried. Some have gained unexpected success, riding on memes created by users themselves, others have found success by being more intentional. An unexpected organic example would be the movie “Get out” when the movie hit the theaters, users began making memes from various scenes of the film, adding to the experience for those who’ve seen the flick and attracting others to viewing meme to go see the film, In order get in on the joke. For an inorganic example, one can look to the recent popularity of “pepe the frog” with the trump campaign. The meme was used to create and develop a strong internet community giving supporters creative outlets to make various political statements, even racist statements, prompting Matt Furie the creator of the character of Pepe to launch #Savepepe campaign, hoping to reclaim the meme from the racist interpretations of his character.
In the end, all memes, promotional or not depends on the users to keep it going. Not only to share to our friends and even strangers, but to keep the creativity going by creating more content with exciting variations, exploring new avenues of thought, or in these stressful times to just have some fun.