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As advertisers, we all have the goal of making our ads get seen by as many eyes as possible, and in a dream world, they all go viral. This means more promotion, increased brand recognition, and greater (much greater) profit margins. But the reality is, that so few do have such shining success, and there isn’t a formula for it.

That said, we have access to many case studies, and seen many ad creatives, and after all that, certain features are common denominators in viral advertising. Learn the basic mechanics, you’ll gain solid insight into viral ad mechanics and have a better idea of what ingredients up the chances of a viral ad.

Let's take a look at how viral advertising spreads, the mechanics of this, and the different mediums available to us as advertisers.

Viral Ads: The Ingredients

1. 3x tablespoon of Engagement.

2. Add target market relevance: you must understand the target audience and what resonates with them.

3. Garnish it with shareability: If it’s shareable and easy to share, then it’s more likely to be shared! (don’t forget to optimize your ad for social media purposes!)

4. One cup of humor: people are more likely to share content that amuses them or makes them laugh.

5. Drizzle on an edginess sauce: Controversial content makes waves as it sparks conversation and debate.

6. Make it zesty with some gripping content: content that grips the soul is hard to look away from, whether it’s suspenseful, exciting or visually stimulating.

7. And even spice it up with sexuality for a truly viral result. But don’t overdo that one!

Principles of Viral Advertising

Many mechanisms make viral advertising spread. The ad in question needs to be picking up momentum independently, to begin with, and is then made more popular because of social media posting, blogs, videos, and other platforms. Let’s do a brief overview of how they function.

Share your content across all media

Getting your ad seen on social media, videos, and news articles (and anywhere that you can), carries many benefits to advertisers. There are many statistics out there that would suggest that in a day, a person can see up to 10000 ads. That might make the mediums seem a bit pointless given the number of ads a user will see in addition to yours, but increases brand awareness steadily and subconsciously.

Here are several mediums that help advertisers increase brand awareness with viral advertising:

  • Social media
  • Search
  • Videos
  • News
  • Blogs
  • Websites

It’s good to cover many mediums. This way, you can corner your market across multiple channels, increasing the likelihood of viewers.

Adult sites have huge volumes and are crawling with potential users to target, provided your products and/or services are relevant to the medium.

Methods and Techniques for Viral Ads

Many factors make up ad creatives, no matter what form and medium they take shape in, and many of the viral ones have certain features in common. That said, viral ads come in various forms, such as the following:

Video 📸

From long-form such as YouTube, to short-form (Instagram, TikTok), video ad campaigns have been very effective over the years.

Memes & Gifs 🎈

Memes and gifs are a big vehicle for marketing. You can create them and make them resonant, relatable, and relevant, and then you increase the chances of them going viral.

Infographics 🖨️

Another visually appealing form of advertising is the use of infographics, which aim to present valuable information in a concise and digestible manner.

Interactive Content 👋

Everyone loves interactive content. The more relevant the better. Quizzes, polls, and videos are examples of interactive content that can be more impressive than a simple static ad.

Technical Elements

Ad Copy

Good copy is crucial for a successful ad, let alone a viral one. Spend some time whittling your concept to the bare bones, and concisely capture its essence. There doesn’t have to be a lot of words. Less is more with ad creatives.


Ads have to look compelling. Most marketers use visuals in 91% of their content, and this has a direct effect on the volume of impressions and the ROI. Build good-looking, persuasive imagery to increase user engagement.


If you have interactive ads, it’s important to make your audio as professional as possible. Otherwise, you can rupture the brand's trust. An ad that sounds good and recorded professionally can make a world of difference to engagement levels.


Don’t forget to design your ads to appear on multiple devices. If your ad works well on desktop but doesn’t translate to mobile, then you remove over 50% of the potential hits. Mobile advertising accounts for 64% of international ad spend. 

Use of Trends & Current Events

Creating ads around trends and current events is a good way to get noticed. Certain events may expire after a while, but in general, this strategy can be very effective, even in the short term. Here is a quick guide to making use of it.

Step One: Stay Informed

To keep track of current events and trends, you should monitor the news, industries, and social media for relevant topics. This will keep you abreast of opportunities to align your creatives with the events of the world.

Step Two: Generate Timely Content

Whether it’s holiday seasons, cultural events, or the release of a new video game or movie, the creation of timely ads can’t be understated. When possible, try and prepare the creatives in advance and release them when the time comes. This means you have to adapt content quickly and be ready for it.

Step Three: Specify Content for Multiple Channels

Similarly to how you have to make your ads translate to multiple channels, you must also make each ad work for the channels you target. For instance, social media platforms will require you to use the relevant trending hashtags.

Step Four: A/B Testing

Try different versions of each ad. This makes it easier to identify what engages your audience the most so that you can optimize your future campaigns.

Step Five: Review Analytics

Always review analytics tools to measure ad performance. Similar to A/B testing, this will give invaluable insights into what resonates with your target audience.

Popular Examples of Viral Advertising

Here are a few great ads that made waves for advertisers.

Squid Game Ad Content

In 2021, Squid Game was released and became a massive cultural phenomenon. Affiliate marketers made soup out of this traction by designing games, native ads, and all sorts of promotions and themed content to attract fans of the show, which seemed like everybody on the planet.

Ocean Spray and Fleetwood Mac

There is the inverse too. In other cases, viral ads become part of pop culture. A good example is “Ocean Spray and Fleetwood Mac” TikTok Challenge. A simple TikTok video of a guy skating while listening to Fleetwood Mac and drinking Ocean Spray got so big it ended up in the public discussion, and was featured on talk shows such as Joe Rogan’s podcast.

The key element was the use of a social media platform to advertise a product, an identifiable sound (the song), and a trendy and cool activity like skating. As affiliates, we can learn how to craft successful campaigns from examples such as this, even despite the “lightning in a bottle” element.

Dove Real Beauty Sketches

The British soap company Dove created a touching ad campaign where they contrasted self-perceptions with how others see the person in question. A sketch artist drew two pictures of women. One drawn the way they perceive themselves and one the way he saw them. The difference was startling and allayed the negative perceptions.

The ad currently has 70 million views and has a positive message that speaks to people. This is an example of how an ad campaign can communicate with the recesses of a person and gain traction with positive reinforcement.

ALS Ice Bucket Challenge

Now, for one of the most iconic campaigns of recent times: the Ice Bucket Challenge. This featured celebrities, YouTube personalities and TV stars having frozen water over them. The goal of this wasn’t to sell products but to raise awareness for an illness. That said, it had a profoundly huge impact on culture.

Overall, it raised $220 million worldwide and generated a public consciousness of an otherwise overlooked issue. Even Bill Gates joined in. Look.

Shot on iPhone 15 Pro

In 2023, Apple released a stunning HD “music video” snippet. The take-home: it was shot with the new iPhone. This advertises a product by exemplifying its power. Whether the phone is capable of capturing this quality of video is known only to iPhone 15 Pro owners, but it captured the imaginations of the public. At the time of this article’s creation, it had 1.6 million views.

There are a few key features that made it succeed. First, it features an identifiable song that chimes with those who are keen on buying new phones. It also features Olivia Rodrigo, an artist who made her name through Disney. This means that Apple is targeting a young audience who are interested in Apple products.

The Verdict

While the recipe for a viral ad remains elusive, Pre-Roll Ads are a powerful tool for building brand awareness and reaching a global audience.  These short videos grab viewers' attention before their chosen content plays, maximizing their potential for memorability. TrafficStars offers a cost-effective way to leverage Pre-Roll advertising, providing access to vast amounts of worldwide traffic at competitive rates. So ditch the search for the magic viral formula and explore the proven impact of pre-roll advertising with TrafficStars!

Launch campaign 🚀