LONDON: The viral videos which secure the most impressive viewing levels among consumers are often spread by a comparatively small group of internet users, new research has revealed.

GoViral, the branded content specialist, assessed 260 campaigns which accounted for 600 million hits worldwide on its own network of sites and platforms like Facebook, Twitter and YouTube since 2008.

It found that content from the business-to-business sector posted the best Viral Action Rate (VAR), with videos from companies in this category being passed on 8.6 times for every 1,000 times they were played back.

However, while these clips tended to dispersed very broadly, their global audience came in at a comparatively modest 2.2 million people overall.

Similarly, material produced by financial services providers received a VAR of 8.0 but was consumed just 1.7 million times, suggesting that targeting is key to encouraging high levels of circulation.

"It might be a smaller population they want to reach, but the message is designed to reach that demographic," said Nick Roveta, product director at GoViral.

"We thought a higher viral action rate would equal a high number of views, but that wasn't the case. If the message relates to them that is what they share."

Videos developed by electronics manufacturers were distributed by 6.1 of every thousand viewers, and were streamed by 5.2 million consumers in all.

Sony, Philips and LG all performed particularly well in this area, largely as they were attempting to engage with digitally literate individuals.

"Campaigns generally target 18-to 34-year-olds, and perhaps they have more of a propensity to share the content," said Roveta.

The fashion segment had a VAR of 4.9 and an audience of 3.6 million, figures that climbed to 6.3 and 4.2 for sports brands.

Aficionados in these categories typically have access to a wide range of material and disseminate any that they find to be interest, but will also be more selective when they are recipients of this content.

While posting a VAR of 4.6, telecoms specialists also enjoyed the benefits of having a tech-savvy user base, recording 11.3 million exposures across the globe in the period assessed by GoViral.

These totals stood at 4.8 and 9.9 million in turn for video games, which also typically boast a highly knowledgeable and enthusiastic group of followers.

Elsewhere, the entertainment industry posted a VAR of 5.9 with 8.7 million people watching clips, while automakers posted scores of 5.5 and 7.1 million, often as their appeal went beyond language.

"Automotive brands lead you through this amazing world of driving and the content tends to be strong and creative," said Roveta.

Consumer goods companies have been relatively slow to take to viral – despite notable exceptions like Evian's "Roller Babies" – and were awarded a VAR of 3.7 having delivered 4.2 million hits.

GoViral argued brands need to offer a "hook" within the first ten to 15 seconds of their online output, which should be no more than 90 seconds in length.

"It is still possible to produce a good piece of content that does well in terms of total number of views but perhaps didn't have a high VAR," said Roveta.

"Encouraging users to share content with Facebook or to win something if they respond will really help."

Data sourced from Marketing Week; additional content by Warc staff