Drama Goes Viral: Effects of Story Development on Shares and Views of Online Advertising Videos

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© 2019 Direct Marketing Educational Foundation, Inc. dba Marketing EDGE Viral advertising videos are a prominent form of viral marketing, yet little is known about which factors influence an online video's virality or likelihood to be shared and viewed. A content analysis of 155 viral ad videos found that average shares and views were higher for videos with full story development versus videos with less than full story development as measured via a five-point drama scale based on Freytag's Pyramid. An incremental story development effect on shares and views was also found. Time duration and company size did not significantly influence the results for shares but did have some effect on the results for views. The role of story in viral videos, the relationship between drama theory, narrative theory, story grammar theory and transportation theory, and managerial implications of story development in viral marketing are also discussed.


Quesenberry, K. A., & Coolsen, M. K. (2019). Drama goes viral: Effects of story development on shares and views of online advertising videos. Journal of Interactive Marketing, 48, 1–16. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.intmar.2019.05.001