As the web's default operating system for video, and its first social platform at scale, YouTube powered the branded video phenomenon that took off about five years ago. Indeed, YouTube is the one constant of all but one other branded campaign on the Viral Chart since we launched it with Visible Measures more than three years ago.
Could that change? This week, Old Spice's "Muscle Music" topped the Viral Chart with 7.3 million views last week, which is no surprise. What is surprising, is that Wieden + Kennedy bypassed YouTube for much-smaller Vimeo, but it didn't seem to hurt the spread of this video one bit. One theory: while YouTube used to be core as a distribution platform, social networks are taking over much of that function. Soon, it may not matter where a video starts, just that it is plugged into the social plumbing of the web.
Like other Old Spice viral campaigns, there was a social component; after watching Terry Crews flex for a while, viewers are encouraged to use their keyboard to control his muscles and create their own tune within the video, functionality enabled by Vimeo. So far, Visible Measures has tracked more than 50 user music submissions.
Besides their willingness to develop a custom product for the agency, Vimeo also has a user base that attracted the agency. The IAC company has courted video creators with its video quality and tools. "Old Spice chose Vimeo because of their very creative community of users. If you try to play 'Muscle Music' or even visit the homepage, you'll see that the music/sounds are kind of abstract and require a little creative will," said Jessica Gillespie, W+K's PR rep.
Of the video's 7.3 million views, 5.7 million come from Vimeo, and 1.5 million from YouTube, some from a teaser video posted there and from users who copied the videos they created to the site. Also big were embedded videos on social sites: The video earned 700,000 views on Facebook, 450,000 views on Buzzfeed, 416,000 views on European social network VK.com, and 101,000 on StumbleUpon.
Keep in mind, Vimeo had just 21 million unique views in the U.S. in June compared to 154 million for YouTube, according to comScore.
Only one other Vimeo-based video campaign has reached the Viral Chart: STA Travel Australia campaign, which launched about a year ago, has over 16.5 million views on Vimeo and only 2.1 million on YouTube.