Advertisers stand to gain from viral video trend

An Internet video of a 15-year-old Canadian schoolboy playing with a light sabre, which received 900 million hits, could help advertisers tap into the younger Internet audience, a marketing agency says.

The home-made video was originally filmed as a prank and came top of the world's "viral video" chart.

It beat Paris Hilton's sex video by 500 million hits and Kylie Minogue's raunchy underwear advertisement by 540 million.

"With viral videos, the audience is in control so advertisers have to engage this audience rather than bombard them," said Toni Smith, Head of Strategy and Communications at the Viral Factory agency.

"They need to be cleverer and more inventive as they cannot buy the space," she told Reuters.

The agency collected the data by counting how many hits each video received on web sites such as YouTube and MySpace.

It also counted the number of hits from forwarded emails.

"Our research showed fun, pointless and silly content were very popular with the young Internet audience and advertisers can learn a lot from that," Smith said.

"Advertisers should embrace the Internet medium by all means but they should not take advantage of it. Their campaigns should say what they need to but in a fun and entertaining way."

A BBC Online survey found that the video viral trend is eating into its viewing figures.

Forty-three percent of young people who download viral videos from the Internet or mobile devices at least once a week say they now watch less television as a result.

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