Viral marketing is still infectious

I have to take issue with some of the points raised in your article “Has viral marketing burned itself out?” (MW March 29).

The implication is that viral marketing is somehow becoming less effective. It’s probably true that, on average, people are less inclined to forward viral marketing content. But I suggest that the reason is simple – the dismal standard of creativity.

As the enormous potential of viral marketing has become apparent, there has been a flood of dreadful rubbish invading mailboxes across the country. This is often churned out by offline DM people (or even worse, web-design agencies) who are trying to reinvent themselves as online marketing experts.

The sheer volume of poor quality work now being produced is depressing response rates. But this is the same problem that banner advertising suffers from: bad creative work doesn’t work, yet people blame the format.

Why do people insist on blaming the medium, rather than blaming the message? This doesn’t happen in the offline world. You don’t hear people berating Tube posters, or 25×4 mono print ads, just because they’ve seen a lot of bad examples recently.

Until the online marketing industry gets its act together and starts valuing high quality creative work, I guess we’ll continue to read headlines such as, “Is the banner dead?” and, “Has viral marketing burned itself out?”

Shaun Varga

Managing director,



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