RLCS, Revista Latina de Comunicación Social
Revista Latina

DOI, Digital Objetc Identifier 10.4185/RLCS-2013-980en | ISSN 1138 - 5820 | RLCS # 68 | 2013 | Audio-visual explanation of the author |

Analysis of the campaign videos
posted by the Third  Sector on YouTube

I Arroyo Almaraz [CV] [1ORCID] [1GS] Full Professor at the Department of Communication Sciences I of the Rey Juan Carlos University, Spain - isidoro.arroyo@urjc.es
M Baños González [CV] [1ORCID] [1GS] Full Professor at the Department of Communication Sciences II of the Rey Juan Carlos University, Spain - miguel.banos@urjc.es
C Van-Wyck [CV] [1ORCID] [1GS] Senior Lecturer in Advertising & Marketing, Centre for Public Communication Research. The Media School, Bournemouth University, United Kingdom - cvwyk@bournemouth.ac.uk

Introduction. Web 2.0 social networks have become one of the tools most widely used by the third sector organisations. This research article examines the formal aspects, content and significance of the videos posted by these organisations on YouTube. Methods. The study is based on the quantitative content analysis of 370 videos of this type, with the objective of identifying the main characteristics. Results. The results indicate that this type of videos are characterised by low levels of creativity, the incorporation of a great amount of very clear information, the predominance of explicit content and the use of very similar formats. Conclusions. Based on the research results, it was concluded that these organisations produce campaign videos with predictable messages that rely on homogeneous structures that can be easily classified in two types: predominantly informative and predominantly persuasive.

Campaign videos; YouTube; third sector; content analysis; social networks; Profiles of campaign videos.

1. Introduction. 2. State of the art review. 3. Methods. 3.1. Research questions and hypothesis. 3.2. Methodological strategy. 3.3. Universe of study and sample selection. 3.4. Variables. 3.5. Data collection. 3.6. Evaluation. 4. Results. 4.1. Results about the formal variables. 4.1.1. Use of textual elements. 4.1.2. Use of the organisations’ visual identity element. 4.1.3. Use of sound elements. 4.1.4. Use of camera shots. 4.1.5. Use of narrative elements. 4.2. Results about the content variables. 4.2.1. Use of advertising genres or treatments. 4.2.2. Results about creativity. 5. Conclusions and discussion. 6. List of references. 7. Sources.

Translation by CA Martínez Arcos, Ph.D. (Universidad Autónoma de Tamaulipas)

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1. Introduction

 The main objective of this research article is to analyse the campaign videos posted on the social networks by third sector organisations. By third sector we refer to all non-governmental organisations and non-commercial enterprises that do not distribute profits among their members (Arroyo, 2012), like NGOs, development NGOs, foundations, associations, etc.

Currently, these organisations have multiple communication strategies that work as an alternative to conventional media. We are referring, particularly, to the formats supported by the internet and, specifically, the social networks. In recent years, the web 2.0 social networks have become an essential communication tool for the third sector organisations. The latest edition of the “Nonprofit Social Network Benchmark Report” (2012) points out that of the NGOs, 93% use Facebook, 74% Twitter, 66% YouTube, and 32% Flickr.

The latest Estudio sobre hábitos en redes sociales (“Study on Social Networks Habits”, 2011) carried out by the Spanish “Interactive Advertising Bureau” (IAB) points out that social networks in Spain are important opinion leaders as they currently reach 75% of the Spanish Internet users. This information has been confirmed by the latest annual study conducted by the communication consulting firm Porter Novelli: Social Media Consumer. The new social consumers in Europe (2012), which is based on more than 10,000 interviews conducted across six European countries. This study points out that Spain is the European country that uses the social networks the most, ahead of the United Kingdom, Germany, Belgium, France and Holland.

The majority of Spanish people use the internet to read the news (88.8%), to consult street-level maps (70.4%), and to access YouTube (67.5%).

The YouTube community has grown around the world by 504% (2,702 million) because people increasingly spend more time watching videos on the internet. This trend is also occurring in Spain, according to the study Vídeo marketing y publicidad en vídeo online: aproximación desde la perspectiva del usuario (“Video marketing and advertising in online videos: an approach from the perspective of the user”, 2011). This study points out that the consumption of streaming video content on the internet is increasing since users dedicate, in average, a quarter of their time on the internet to watch videos, and half of Internet users watch online videos.

Spanish internet users spend more and more time exchanging videos they consider to be funny, controversial or absurd (Aguado and García, 2009). Viral marketing has improved the impact of video content, which makes it especially “attractive” to organisations that have limited resources and are interested in multiplying the impact of the campaign videos they wishing to transmit. For this reason, smaller organisations with limited resources may also resort to this strategy to multiply the impact of their campaign (Lovejoy, Waters and Saxton, 2012).

But not all videos manage to make the huge impact reached by such campaigns as MTV’s “Amo a Laura" (“I love Laura”); “5000 días de incumplimiento” (“5000 days of failure”); Greenpeace’s “Kit Kat, the crispy chocolate that destroys forests”; Amnesty International’s “The power of your voice”, etc. Although it has been shown that the videos that are transmitted through the social networks can exponentially increase their impact, there have been many campaigns transmitted through these networks that do not manage to reach the expected impact. Based on the previous situation, this research article focuses on identifying how third sector organisations use the different elements of the campaign video.  

2. State of the art review

The purpose of this research is to identify the features of the formal elements, contents and meanings of the videos published by third sector organisations on their YouTube channels, which are disseminated through other social networks through viral marketing, which refers to different marketing actions in which the receiver of the virus (the campaign video) becomes, in turn, in the sender of the message (Aguado and Garcia, 2009; Kirby, 2012).

NGOs promote solidarity and are socially recognised as opinion leaders, and accordingly use the social networks to reach a large number of people, particularly young people, who use and trust these networks massively and rely much more on them to obtain information (Martínez García, 2009; IAB, 2011).

Internet generates greater confidence because it stimulates horizontal relations among young people and this has led to greater citizen participation in social demands. Today, scholars are not only talking about information and communication technologies (ICTs), but also about the empowerment and participation technologies (EPTs) (Reig, 2012).

Globalisation generates new effects (Castells, 2008), beyond the use of ICTs and EPTs. We refer to the new ways in which human beings are facing global and local problems.

Habermas’s discourse theory has highlighted the importance of the communication and interaction from institutions to citizens in the formation of public opinion. Today this communication occurs through the web 2.0 which is a virtual agora that generates a new communication paradigm in which the roles of social interaction have changed in response to the new needs of the civil society, which is understood as the relations developed outside the relations of power, those that were historically treated (Hegel, Marx, Engels, Gramsci, etc.) as a class struggle and that are currently addressed from the perspective of communication for social change (Durán-Bravo and Fernandez-Fuentes, 2010; Nos, Iranzo and Farné, 2012).

Large NGOs have resorted to this formula of communication for change with great success in the effectiveness of their campaign videos. Thus, this formula could be used also by any other NGO registered in Spain, about 300,000. In the time of the web 1.0, NGOs had complete control over their content, which allowed them to control how they were perceived (Waters and Jones, 2011), and visibility was the best developed strategy on their websites.

The web 2.0 (through blogs, wikis, social networks, pictures-based sites like Flickr and videos channels like YouTube or Vimeo) and the mobile devices facilitate dialogue, which can be used by organisations to develop their social education programmes, to generate an identity that positions them in the universe of social causes, and certainly to promote their awareness campaigns, volunteer recruitment, fundraisings, and to improve their transparency and accountability (Gandía, 2011).

To achieve these goals, 80% of NGOs believe that Twitter, Facebook, blogsand YouTube are the ideal social media. Each medium contributes to different purposes and all of them as a whole generate the new way of communication.

 In all communication campaigns it is essential, first of all, the creation of the viral video to be shared and commented on the different social networks and, secondly, the way in which it is disseminated by the users of one or another social network.

Twitter has become the most powerful mini-blog on the internet, not only because it is the most widely used but also because it manages to make the information better understood (Bortree and Stelzner, 2009). Twitter is the ideal medium for instantaneous communication, and this means that we can know what users are doing at any given time (Flores, 2009). The first study of the impact of Twitter on the generation and dissemination innovation (Primer estudio del impacto de Twitter en la generación y difusión de la innovación, 2010) carried out by Madrid’s Institute for Development points out that 54% of the Spanish users consider it to be excellent to stay up to date with what is happening on the internet.

The result of the study of Lovejoy, Waters and Saxton (2012) reveals that Twitter is the most complete communication platform for NGOs because it allows them to include hyperlinks, to retweet messages, to facilitate searches through hash-tags and to share multimedia files, using apps like TwitPic and TwitVid.

Spanish users follow the same pattern: 64% use Twitter to share hyperlinks to general-interest news that they find while surfing the web and links to pages they consider to be interesting. Of the Spanish users, 86% retweet the information they receive (Madrid Network, 2010).

Definitively, Twitter users who find a video will share it to communicate in an easy way, because they want to reach people beyond their circle of friends and want, in turn, to remain accessible in the search for immediacy and mobility (Celaya, 2007).

Facebook users want to meet with friends and particularly appreciate video contents, and their form of communication is more similar to that generated at the interpersonal level by email. Facebookis, therefore, suitable for NGOs to interact with volunteers and donors and to educate and inform about their programmes and services because it fosters stable connections that generate a large social capital (Bennett, 2012). For example, health-related NGOs use social channels more frequently than the rest of the organisations and tend to post twice the number of messages on Facebook in comparison to governmental or university institutions (Park, Rodgers and Stemmle, 2011).

However, the results indicate that these and the rest of the NGOs do not get all the benefits the social media provide; they rarely post external links to other stories in the network, post pictures or generate discussions on the wall (Park, Rodgers and Stemmle, 2011; Waters, Burnett, Lamm and Lucas, 2009). Despite this, in Facebook more than 83 million photos are posted daily, which is well above the number of pictures posted on more pictures-specialised sites like Flickr and Photobucket.

Blogs favour the inclusion of videos (Waters and Jones, 2011) and, together with YouTube, facilitate the creation of personalised free and open communication channels. Anyone can create a free channel on YouTube, and to link videos to blogs. Any organisation can create a hypermedia message, with horizontal narratives and the possibility of interactivity, to transmit the official voice of the organisation, as a section of its website, which is the channel of expression of a disadvantaged person, or as a platform to launch a social project (Berrios, 2009). For example, the Miradas channel of the Vía Comunicaciones group, produced by students and professors of the Technical University of Loja, allows users to share the productions of the group with other people, through links posted in the blogosphere.

However, despite the ease to incorporate videos in blogs, Twitter and Facebook, sharing videos on YouTube can be seen as the fastest growing trend. Of the 980 NGOs surveyed in 2009 (Moshman, 2009), 46.5% already used YouTube.

YouTube is used mainly to promote campaigns and causes through videos, which can help people and organisations to achieve their objectives due to the low cost. Videos on YouTube always look to go viral through digital marketing or communication techniques like the digital rumour about something that makes an impact on the population and is communicated quickly and easy. This is what happened, for example, with Greenpeace’s “The dark side of VW”, chosen among the 5 best viral videos of the year with more than 1 million views. Young people are the population sector that watches more videos on YouTube as a frequent activity, while seniors only visit this site when the topic is of interest and, almost always, looking for specific information related to their professional and recreational interests (Nuñez-Gómez, Garcia-Guardia and Hermida-Ayala, 2012).

The use of YouTube in communication campaigns is increasing viral marketing and the value of the sensations of the message, as it happens, for example, in anti-smoking videos on YouTube (Paek, Kyongseok and Hove, 2010).

Indeed, online virality and video, as medium and message, are currently considered as fundamental instruments for the communication and identity construction of organisations (Waters and Jones, 2011). This is particularly true in Spain, which is fourth European country (just behind Germany, Turkey and the United Kingdom) that spends more time watching online videos: one of every four hours dedicated to the internet.

Old videos keep their position of popularity in YouTube’s ranking because they are recommended in search engines, RSS, web comments, blogs, emails and other websites.

Based on this reality, this article analyses the formal elements, content and meanings of the campaign videos posted by the third sector organisations on YouTube, in order to identify the main profiles and offer models to improve the efficient development of social communication.

3. Methods

3.1. Research questions and hypothesis

Research questions:

1. Is there any uniformity among the campaign videos posted by third sector organisations on social networks?

2. Are there any dominant trends in the campaign videos posted by third sector organisations on social networks?

3. What are the formal elements of the videos posted by third sector organisations on YouTube?

4. What narrative elements are used in these campaign videos posted by third sector organisations on YouTube?

5. What audiovisual language resources are used in these campaign videos posted by third sector organisations on social networks?

6. What are the levels of creativity of these campaign videos?

Working hypothesis:

The social campaign videos disseminated through the social networks are very uniform and homogeneous in their formal aspects, contents and meanings.

3.2. Methodological strategy

A descriptive exploratory study was carried out, using quantitative content analysis, which was applied to a sample of audiovisual texts to thoroughly examine the different variables of the object of study and to collect data. The data was encoded and subjected to descriptive statistical analysis, whose results were the basis to establish the dominant profiles in terms of production and the relations between the formal and content aspects of the videos and certain factors that determine their level of creativity and significance.

The results of these analyses provided new knowledge about the inner functioning and production trends of the campaign videos produced by third sector organisations and distributed in their YouTube channels.

The study is organized in four essential stages:

  • Stage I: definition of the body of study, sample design and establishment of variables.

  • Stage II: content analysis of the sample of campaign videos.

  • Stage III: descriptive and correlation statistical analysis.

  • Stage IV: interpretation of results based on the research questions and establishment of conclusions and discussion.

3.3. Universe of study and sample selection

 The universe of study is composed of all audiovisual communications that were created by the third sector, were posted on YouTube, were shared through social networks, and meet the following criteria:

  • Serve social interest causes.

  • Were active in any social network during the first half of 2010.

  • Are spoken in the languages spoken in Spain: Spanish, Catalan, Basque and Galician.

  • Were produced or adapted by Spanish organisation or the Spanish offices of international organisations.

Given the diversity of campaign videos that met these criteria, we selected a sample of the videos that were published by third sector organisations that have a channel on YouTube, within the NGO category, and have circulated those videos on other social networks. The choice of YouTube is justified by:

  • Its high number of unique daily users.

  • Its great possibilities of interconnection with social networks.

  • Its tools to include information about the video and the registered activity.

  • Its diversity of channels related to NGOs and actions of solidarity.

Vimeo was dismissed due to low use by third sector organisations at the time of the sample selection, since less than 1% of NGOs used it, according to the 2011 Nonprofit Social Network Benchmark Report which collects data from 2010.

Finally, the sample was composed of 370 campaign videos representative of the communications carried out by the third sector on social networks.

3.4. Variables

Formal variables: are those that have to do with the visual or audiovisual form adopted by the different constituent elements of the message to be analysed (Arroyo, Baños and García, 2009):

  • Narrative elements:

  • Character. Refers to the person who undertakes the actions or experiences events. The analysis took into account different factors of presentation: its approach as a formal element of the narrative (type of character: individual protagonist, group of protagonists, secondary and peripheral actors or extras) and its approach as “human kind” (emotional status of the character); variables about the aspects of the character as a communicative agent (relations between characters and relations of the protagonists with the organisation that produced the video); and the level of referentiality or capacity of the character to be identified as relevant person in the social landscape or as a human type.

  • Action. Refers to what happens and what the characters do. The analysis of action focused on three variables of interest: their coherence with the solidarity content of the video; their level of participation and their dominant emotional character in the scene.

  • Space as setting: the analysis considered three essential dimensions: type of space, mode of space and identification of space.

  • Sound context. Refers to the sound elements: dialogue, music, noise and silence. The analysis of dialogues (spoken and intelligible words), differentiating between dialogues between two people, group dialogue, monologue and voice-over.

  • Textual elements: presence, relevance, position and font of the headings and the body of text.

  • Visual Identity. Refers to the visual elements that represent the social brand that is behind the video. The analysis focused on: a) their presence; b) the modality (logo, symbol, logo-symbol, name, appearance, shape and external features of the product); c) the presence of other brands; d) whether the brand is in motion (is the identity moving, is it moved by the actors, or is the camera that moves?) or remains static (static situation or type of internal or external movement); and e) dominant position of the identity in the screen or slide.

  • Dominant shot.

Content variables: Refer to the elements of the video directly related to its informative and motivational aspects (Baños González and Rodríguez García, 2009).

  • Genre of the campaign video. Although there is not a precise genre classification for advertising creativity, since they are the result of professional practice (Ruiz Collantes, 2000), there are some categories that share some fundamental common features, which allow us to differentiate the campaign videos based on their: narrative forms (Navarro, 2006), calls and treatments (Weilbacher, 1979), efficiency formulas (Ogilvy, 1984) and creative paths (Bassat, 1993). This study focused on the following categories because they are easily recognisable and are the most commonly used in advertising and communication by most of the previous authors: comedy, demonstration, dramatization, presenter, testimonial, comparison and problem-solution.

  • The creativity of the videos, through the factorial theory of Guilford (1976a, 1976b) and the analysis of selected factors, which are the most commonly used to evaluate it, as confirmed by the studies carried out by: Yamamoto (1976), Desrosiers (1978), García García (1984), Altsech (1996), Baños (2001) and Arroyo (2006) for whom originality is an important factor of advertising creativity, but not the only one. Being innovative and capable of capturing the attention of the public is what gives a unique value to the videos, the value of being different, while being creative means changing the concepts, by creating deep values that involve the rest of the factors:

  • Suitability of the video to reach the objectives.

  • Originality: novelty of the video and ability to capture the attention of the target audience.

  • Production: amount of details and quality of the video.

  • Internal coherence, which refers to the notion of meaning since the receiver does not establish the coherence only based on the propositions expressed in the discourse, but also based on the propositions of its own knowledge.

  • Aesthetics: refers to the beauty and elegance, or lack thereof, of the video.

  • Opacity: it examines whether the video clearly transmits its objectives.

  • Ideas in the campaign videos, divided into explicit and implicit.

  • Signification of the campaign videos, through the following variables: degrees of specificity, complexity, polysemy, originality, denotation, connotation and rhetoric (Arroyo, Baños and García, 2009).

  • Most important rhetorical figures: metaphor, metonymy, hyperbole, ellipsis, paradox, analogy and comparison.

  • Sentence modalities according to enunciation, i.e., taking into account the subjective attitude (modus) of the speaker with respect to what appears in the video: declarative, interrogative, imperative, exclamatory, desiderative, possibility and hesitant.

3.5. Data collection

After the sample selection and the establishment of variables, a questionnaire was designed to investigate the previously established variables. Finally, a codebook was created to collect the data on the variables under analysis and facilitate their subsequent statistical analysis.

3.6. Evaluation

An important point of this study is the use of evaluators to assess the different variables of interest in the campaign videos. The assessment was carried out by twenty evaluators, which increases the reliability of assessments since the number of evaluators is high enough to prevent coincidences by chance. The use of evaluators has been a common practice in research of this type, like the studies carried out by Yamamoto (1976) and Desrosiers (1978). The study of García García (1984) on creativity in children used previously-trained evaluators to carry out the evaluation. The use of evaluators is positive because it prevents the subjectivity of one researcher from forcing the results to confirm the hypothesis. In this case, we believe that the high coincidence in the scores given by the evaluators allows us to affirm that objective scores were obtained and that all evaluators assessed the variables with the same criteria and in line with the works carried out by Amabile (1983), Sternberg, Lubart (1997), Baños (2001) and Arroyo (2006), among others.

4. Results

4.1. Results about the formal variables

The data obtained through the questionnaire were coded and entered into a statistical matrix for their exploitation and to obtain results through descriptive statistical techniques.

4.1.1. Use of textual elements

Most campaign videos do not include a title (57.6%), in comparison to 42.4% that do have a title. The high percentage of videos with titles highlights the fact that for these organisations it is important to provide information also through textual elements (see table 1).

With regards to the title, there is a tendency to use large or extra-large font sizes. They are positioned across the whole screen (15.9%) or in the centre of the screen (10%). A common feature was the preferential use of san-serif fonts (23.5%).

Most campaign videos (67.6%) incorporated a body of text, while the rest did not (32.4%). The body of texts presented a great deal of information, located across the whole screen (29.4%), with a small or medium font size (54.9%). As it happened in the case of the titles, the dominant typeface is dry stick (44.9%).

Table 1. Descriptive statistics of the textual elements (sample = 370)


 4.1.2. Use of the organisations’ visual identity element

An interesting finding is that 25.5% of the sample of videos does not have any element that identifies the organisation that disseminates the video (see table 2).

Table 2. Descriptive statistics of the visual identity element (sample = 370)


In relation to the modality in which the identity element is presented in the video, the dominant tendency is to show the logo-symbol (name of the organisation with a specific typeface and the symbol that identifies it), which is included in 211 (57%) of the 370 videos included in the sample.

With regards to the position occupied by the visual identity element in the videos, the most frequent are: full screen (in nearly 25%) and central (in 24.9%).

Finally, in relation to the dynamics of the visual identity element, it remains static in 62.7% of the cases, while 11.8% incorporates some type of movement. The most dominant trend in the sample of videos is that the static identity element remains in the foreground (in 47.1% of the cases).

4.1.3. Use of sound elements

All of the videos (100%) include sound elements, of which music and dialogues are most commonly used, simultaneously, in 70.2% of the cases.

The types of voices included in the videos (in the form of intelligible words) are: dialogues between two persons, group dialogue, monologues and voice-over. There was no intelligible spoken dialogue in 28.4% of the sample of videos, while the predominant form (in 45.7% of the sample) to incorporate voice in these videos is through monologues (see table 3).

Table 3. Descriptive statistics of the sound elements (sample = 370)


In relation to the type of music, 55% of the sample of videos incorporates extradiegetic music and only 5.4% uses diegetic music.

With regards to the noise, the situation is quite the opposite: most videos (45.9%) use the diegetic type, while only 7.8% incorporates extradiegetic noise.

Finally, the use of expressive silence is very limited: only 11.6% of the sample makes use of this resource.

4.1.4. Use of camera shots

The analysis of the formal aspects of the videos included the identification of the shots (table 4). The long shot is the most used in the sample (in 28.4% of the videos), followed by the medium shot (26.5%). Conversely, the least used is the American shot, present in only 8 videos (2.2% of the total).

 Table 4. Descriptive statistics of the camera shots (sample = 370)


4.1.5. Use of narrative elements

 From a general point of view, most of the videos disseminated on the social networks by the third sector organisations, 90%, have a narrative discourse, i.e., they have characters, a setting and action (the essential elements of a narrative). Only about 10% of the videos are purely declarative or descriptive, non-narrative.

Of the sample of videos, 89.7% have characters, while the rest does not. In terms of character types, as the following table shows, 52.7% of the sample has a single protagonist, while 53.8% have peripheral characters. In contrast, the presence of groups of protagonists and secondary characters is much lower (in 25.1% and 31.1% of the sample, respectively). Here it is important to remember that the same video may have various types of characters and that is why the sum of percentages exceeds 100%.

In relation to the relevance of the characters, they can be identified by the audience in 70.3% of the cases, either because they are famous or well-known people in the public sphere or within the scope of work of the third sector organisations, like doctors, volunteers, victims of AIDS, homeless people, etc.

Regarding the role played by the characters, there are different relations between them and their actions: there is an attitudinal relation linking the different characters and there a relation between the characters’ actions and the organisation that produced the videos.

With regards to the relation between the characters and the organisation that produces the video, the most common role played by the characters (in 34.6% of cases) is being an active member of the organisation; the rest of the relations have little relevance and appear in similar percentages: beneficiary in 18.4% of cases; external informant in 16.8%; and testimonial or witness in 15.4%. In only 3.4% of the cases, the characters do not seem to have any kind of relation with the organisation.

Table 5. Use of characters as narrative elements (sample = 370)


Finally, in terms of the dominant emotional attitude shown by the characters, they tend to be positive (in 38.6% of the cases), i.e., characters seem to be happy, euphoric, thoughtful, focused, expectant or amazed. Of these positive emotional states, "happy" is the most common (in 17.9% of cases), i.e., in these cases characters are depicted as happy because a conflict has been solved or because they are eager to face a challenge.

Negative emotions (situations in which the characters are sad, desperate, angry, tired, scared or nervous) are depicted in about 25% of the sample of videos. In a similar percentage of videos (24.4%) the characters show a normal or neutral emotional state. Finally, only in 1.4% of the videos the characters display an emotional attitude that can be described as variable.

In terms of actions, in 88.8% of the sample of videos the characters are carrying out actions. As a narrative element, action is the representation of the message of the video. As table 6 shows, the results in this regard are polarised and exhibit a dominant trend. The actions depicted in 75% of the videos can be considered to be coherent with the social-cause of the videos.

In terms of the emotional nature of the action, the most common is negative (52.5% of cases), followed by positive actions (28.7%). The least common type of action is neutral, found in just 8% of the videos.

Table 6. Use of actions as narrative elements (sample = 370)


In terms of settings, they are included in 88.1% of the cases. By setting we refer to the space where the actions and the story take place and where the characters appear. As we can see in the following table, the most common setting in the videos is representative (63.3%), and is not recognizable in 73.8% of the cases. In these cases, the setting is used as a frame of reference for action, so that the signifying role that could be played by the use of symbolic spaces is quite moderate (played in only 24.8% of the cases).

Table 7. Use of settings as narrative elements (sample = 370)


 In terms to the types of settings, the most common are urban locations (25.6%) and work-related places (20.3%). The less common settings are rural locations (11.3%) and, particularly, familiar-intimate spaces, neighbourhoods, recreational areas, parks or gardens, and natural locations.

4.2. Results about the content variables

4.2.1. Use of advertising genres or treatments

 In this regard, there was no dominant advertising genre or treatment in the sample of videos. The only genre that stands out to some extent is the “presenter” modality (29.5%), which is followed, in a fairly uniform way, by the testimonial (18.6%), dramatization (18.1%) and demonstration (15.7%). The presence of such genres as comedy, comparison and problem-solution is insignificant.

Table 8. Use of advertising genres (sample = 370)


4.2.2. Results about creativity

One of the objectives of this research is to identify the type of relations that exists between the creativity factors and the different features of the sample of videos. Statistical correlation techniques were used to identify these relations.

Given the variety of cases, this part of the analysis will only focus on the correlations that are significant at the 0.01 level (bilateral).

There is a significant and positive correlation between much or enough originality and a high rate in terms of suitability (0.170), production (0.351), aesthetics (0.375) and opacity (0.195). In the case of the coherence factor, the relation is significant and negative (-0.143).

The analysis also detected that the suitability, and originality, correlated positively and significantly with internal coherence (0.540) and production (0.284). It is normal to think that a video that is perceived to have more details (i.e., with a better production) is also perceived has having more meaning and, therefore, deemed most suitable to convey the desired meaning to its target audience.

The low internal coherence significantly correlated with high opacity, i.e., the less coherent a video is considered to be, the more opaque it is perceived to be (0.287).

Finally, aesthetics correlates, positively and significantly, with the production factor (0.459); i.e., when a video is perceived to be well produced, the perception of its beauty increases.

The following table presents the results regarding the correlation between creativity and the genre of the campaign videos.

Table 9. Correlations between factors of creativity and genres (sample = 370)


Comedy correlated significantly and positively with three creativity factors: originality, aesthetics and opacity. According to these results, the videos considered as comedy by the evaluators tend to be more original and beautiful; but, at the same time, their content is poorly understandable for the receiver.

Demonstration correlated positively and significantly with suitability, which makes this type of video suitable for the communications conducted in the third sector.

Dramatization correlated positively and significantly with originality but, on the other hand, the correlation of the presenter with this creativity factor is significant but negative.

Comparison correlated positively and significantly with opacity. In other words, when this genre is used the understanding of the message gets complicated.

Finally, there was a positive and significant correlation between the problem-solution treatment and coherence. This relation is fairly logical since describing a specific problem and the way to solve it makes the video more meaningful to the receiver.

With regards to the correlation between creativity and the messages of the videos, the analysis found that the presence of implied ideas in the videos correlates positively with both originality (with a significance level of 0.05) and opacity (with a level of significance of the 0.01). The relation between the implicit ideas and opacity is quite logic since this type of ideas is not presented in a clear way in the videos, which requires the public to make a greater effort to understand the content of the communication. This type of ideas also correlates positively and significantly, at the 0.01 level, with low levels of visual beauty.

Table 10. Correlations between creativity factors and sentence types (sample = 370)


In relation to the presence of explicit ideas on the videos, they correlate negatively with originality and opacity, in both cases with a significance level of 0.01. The relation between explicit ideas and opacity can be considered normal since resorting to this type of ideas facilitates the understanding of the desired meaning and, therefore, eliminates its opacity.

Finally, this type of ideas correlates positively with suitability (at a significance level of 0.05) and coherence (0.01). Once again, these are logical relations since making the preferred meaning clearer and more obvious can provide coherence and make the video seem more suitable to achieve the objectives pursued by third sector organisations.

In terms of the relations between creativity and the sentence type, the number was very small. Thus, it can be concluded that creativity and sentence type are not closely related in this type of videos.

Declarative sentences correlate positively with coherence. Exclamatory sentences correlate positively with suitability. Hesitant sentences correlate positively with opacity and negatively with suitability and coherence. Interrogative sentences correlate positively with originality, aesthetics and production quality. Desiderative sentences correlate with aesthetics. And imperative sentences correlated positively with aesthetics.

With regards to the relation between creativity and rhetorical figures, as it happened with the sentence types, there was no significant relation. The only exception is with the opacity factor which correlates positively and significantly with the metonymy, the paradox and the simile. In other words, when certain rhetoric figures are used the content is less clear and more difficulty to understand, which could be a problem for this type of videos.

Table 11. Correlations between creativity factors and rhetorical figures


The hyperbole and the simile correlated positively and significantly with originality. The hyperbole also correlates significantly with suitability, but in a negative way. In the case of aesthetics, it had positive correlations with the metaphor and the simile. The production quality correlates with the metaphor.

5. Conclusions and discussion

 The results confirmed the research hypothesis because most of the videos posted on YouTube by the third sector organisations used homogeneous and similar proposals, characterised by the transmission of meanings in a very clear and perfectly visible way. These videos are very predictable and are limited to describing the activities that these organisations have carried out or need to carry out.

The main finding of this research, which responds to our two initial questions (in relation to uniformity and the presence of dominant trends), has been the identification of the structures that underlie this type of videos and their classification into two dominant profiles:

  1. Predominantly informative profile (PIP): These videos last from 1 to 2 minutes; have a dominant presence of a presenter speaking about the organisation in the third person; do not have implied ideas; present very specific, simple and denotative information; use declarative sentences most of the times; and, therefore, their rhetorical level is very low. In relation to the formal elements, they have big titles and small-sized body text; the corporate visual identity element remains static and is located in the foreground. The dominant sound element is the dialogue in pairs; they lack almost never include music, noise or expressive silence, as narrative elements resource. The setting in which the actions take place is usually a public garden or park, which are representative and easily identifiable.

  1. Predominantly persuasive profile (PPP): These videos last up to 30 seconds; predominantly use the testimonial genre, where someone talks about his/her experience with the organisation in the first person; use implied ideas; their information is not very specific, is quite complex and has a marked tendency to polysemy and connotations; make a predominant use of hesitant sentences; and, therefore, their rhetorical level is very high. In relation to the formal elements, they have no title or body text and their corporate identity element has internal movement. Their dominant sound is the monologue, the music is extradiegetic (does not correspond to any action on screen, i.e., sound sources and devices are not part of the story), the noise is diegetic (something that is part of what you are seeing is the source) and use expressive silence (it does not correspond with what is shown on screen and is used to highlight an emotional aspect). The settings in which the actions take place are usually public urban locations, symbolic and non-identifiable.

The following conclusions answer the rest of the research questions.

With regards to the question raised about the way the formal elements are used in these videos, it was concluded that these videos pay more attention to the content than to the form of expression of these contents. There is a general tendency to transmit a great deal of clear and very visible information. The presence of titles and bodies of text and the predominant use of explicit ideas highlight the interest of the third sector organisations in transmitting their message to the target audiences without any interference.

In connection with the use of basic narrative elements (characters, actions and settings) it can be concluded that these videos are characterised by: a) the use of very basic or incomplete narrative elements which, in many cases, make them look very similar to TV advertisements, usually with a short duration; b) the use of not very daring constructions and the avoidance of narrative counterpoints; c) in some videos the events are not presented by visible and representative characters, and this function is performed, implicitly, by the organisation that produced the video, society or, occasionally, the spectator.

The characters on screen are, predominantly, extras or single protagonists, generally active members of the organisations; they tend to show a social relation between them and express positive emotions. The characters usually represent human beings, or at least beings equipped with typically human features.

The roles of the characters in the story are complex. One of the most essential roles is to support different emotions and intentions, becoming the most important vehicle for the transmission of certain ideas and feelings through an emotional relation, which allows the viewer to identify with that character. From the formal point of view, it is common for characters to display a hierarchical relation among them, according to their importance in relation to the main action.

The action is, usually, emotionally negative and performed by a group that is coherent to the message of the video. The action is performed by a number of individuals who face difficult or painful situations and reflect on them or are happy for their resolution.

The setting is representative, used as a referential framework for actions, which takes place, mostly, in urban and industrial locations.

The predominant sound element is the monologue, with extradiegetic music (it can be heard but it is not produced by something that appears on screen), with a balanced proportion of videos with noise and videos that do not use this sound element. When the videos use noise it is diegetic, i.e., produced by an element that appears on the scene.

In relation to the camera shots, the most widely used is the long shot, followed very closely by the medium shot, so there is no tendency to make a predominant use of a certain shot. However, there is a tendency to make a limited use of the American shot, which is of great functionality to simultaneously display values of information, action and emotion of the character, and the extreme close up, which is of great symbolic and emotional value.

With regards to the creative aspect, it can be concluded that the videos have low or very low levels of creativity. When a video is perceived to be creative, it is characterised by the use of the comedy, comparison and problem-solution genres/treatments (in that order); implicit ideas; interrogative sentences that are perceived as original, pleasant and well produced; metaphors that are related to the aesthetic elements and the production quality; and the simile associated to the originality, the aesthetic elements and opacity.

These conclusions suggest that the construction of these videos is not part of a strategic communication choice, as it is traditionally the case in persuasive communication. Instead, the construction of these videos is the result of the limitations of the communication departments of many of these organisations which, too often, are forced to post videos previously used in other media (TV ads, interviews, etc.).

Third sector organisations neither take advantage of the real possibilities of the social networks which results, ultimately, in a very limited use of the many specific resources offered by these communication tools, such as: the great capacity to communicate with collaborators and the general public, as well as the possibility to communicate with governments and companies in a relation of equality of access.

Here it is important to note the limitations of this research, which can be summarised in two points:

  • Firstly, the internet and particularly the social networks are evolving very fast, which leads to a constant revolution of formats, proposals and technologies and this in turn makes it difficult for us to reach conclusions with long-term validity.

  • Secondly, the diversity of social networks and formats used to transmit campaign videos complicates the analysis of the diversity of audiovisual messages created by the third sector organisations, which forced us to limit the scope of our study to a portion of all the videos produced by these organisations.

It would be appropriate to carry out a research study to establish whether the effectiveness of the videos of the third sector organisations is related to the two dominant profiles identified in this research.

This research study could examine the reception of these videos in a real context of communication through the creation of two different videos, each with the characteristics of each of the two different profiles, for an important third sector organisation and post them in a social network, in order to compare both profiles in terms of efficiency. The analysis would also take into account the ideological aspects of the videos.

Undoubtedly, this research is very useful to improve the effectiveness of the communication for social change carried out by the third sector organisations, as it allows to understand the relations that exist between the different elements used in the production of the videos, and this in turn allows us to improve the ability of these videos to attract the attention of the viewer, their virality, and their impact on the public.

  • This article presents the results of the research project titled Desarrollo de un modelo de eficacia de la comunicación persuasiva del tercer sector en redes sociales (“Development of an efficiency model for the persuasive communication of the third sector in social networks”) (CS02009-11203), which is funded by the Spanish Ministry of Science and Innovation as part of the 6th National Plan for Scientific Research, Development and Technological Innovation 2008-2011 (extended to 2013), executed from 2010 to 2013.

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I Arroyo, M Baños and C Van-Wyck (2013): “Analysis of the campaign videos posted by the Third Sector on YouTube”, at  Revista Latina de Comunicación Social, 68. La Laguna (Tenerife): La Laguna University, pages 328 to 353 retrieved on ___ de ___th of ____ of 2_______,
from http://www.revistalatinacs.org/068/paper/980_Madrid/14_Arroyoen.html
DOI: 10.4185/RLCS-2013-980en/CrossRef link

Article received on 24 January 2013. Submitted to pre-review on 26 January Sent to reviewers on 28 January Accepted on 25 April 2013. Galley proofs made available to the authors on 28 April 2013. Approved by authors on: 28 April 2013. Published on 29 April 2013.

Note: the DOI number is part of the bibliographic references and it must be cited if you cited this article.



I Arroyo Almaraz

M Baños González

C Van-Wyck