Thursday, October 21, 2010

The Obama streaker and the value of a viral

So not only is the Obama streaker the most rational naked-man in recent memory, but Juan Ramirez and his loins are doing great things in helping us understand the financials of viral marketing campaigns; Juan'll eventually help answer the elixir of life question: how much is a viral worth?

But first: wouldn't you streak Obama for a million dollars? A million dollars is a serious amount of money, and although I get that it's kind of earnin G's today in sleezy ways, how is a million dollars for streaking the leader of the free world with a corporate logo on your chest any worse ethically than receiving your wall street end of year bonus for being good at credit-spit-swapping?

I just think that Alki David the billionaire streaker-benefactor wayy overpaid for the deed. Just think about all your broke ass "privacy is dead" friends that would have done it for 100k. And shit, if David had just been like: "streak him and you'll probably end up with a reality show" people would no doubt have been trippin over each other for the job - i mean, that strategy worked on that party crashing DC Real Housewife..

Either way, I think that Obama should strike back and get Rahm Emanuel in his Coup de Grace to run naked through the battle.net offices with "repeal don't ask don't tell" painted on his lower back and ass cheeks.

This story has significance beyond its Gawker-value though, in that it provides the first data point in determining the monetary value of a bit going viral.

Which will be helpful for professional marketers considering that over the past couple of years the marketing world has been scrambling like a young Donovan McNabb cooking eggs, figuring out ways to apply old school business metrics to the realms of social networks and shit like youtube. It's hard out there for Mad Men 2010: as the effects on revenue and profits of "hits" "likes" and "retweets" are harder to understand than Brad Pitt in Snatch.

These days marketers are saying sentences like: "well our orange soda commercial got 1800 'likes' on Facebook (i.e. "i do, i do, i do-oo's"), but I'm not really sure what that is going to mean in terms of actual sales"; or "our webside got 1 million views in the first week but it is unclear how many of those viewers are actually going to buy".

It is practically impossible to determine viral-value ex-facto.

But over time we will be able to infer the value just by watching billionaire boys like Akili David pay people to do silly things.

Consider: David was willing drop a hot mil for battle.net to go viral. Soon there will be another guy/girl like him paying another guy/girl streaker-mercenary to do something else spread-worthy: maybe she'll pay 250 k this time. After enough iterations of this exchange, a going rate for streaking the national media will start to emerge.

This going rate will represent the cost of getting something "plauging" - a term we should coin to signify when something goes super-viral. We will eventually know that if you want your company name to be seen by millions of people you will have to pay someone X amount of money.

The cost will be the lower bound of the value of a viral, as people like David will only be willing to front the going rate if the value of a viral is greater than that cost. And there it will be: the value of a viral, right before our eyes.

But to determine this bound we are going to need a lot of billionaires and a lot of desperate streakers: so take your clothes off and do something for science. As an additional perk, you'll get rich.

This sweet ass post was written for the Thought Catalog.

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