What makes hit Youtube ad?

I’ve just come out of another workshop where the hot topic was trying to get the brand’s advertising viewed by as many people as possible on Youtube. It got me thinking about what really makes an effective Youtube advert.

The first and most obvious measure of success is the number of YouTube views. This is an incredibly blunt measure, as we don’t know who the audience is, in terms of who they are and where they live. But as exposure goes, its the best measure we have.

To get some clues on what drives views I looked the top 10 Youtube ads of 2010 here. The main conclusion from the top 10 is a reminder that Youtube is all about entertainment (as is Facebook by the way), by using:

Humour: most of the top 10 ads were funny, as are the most viewed films on YouTube in general, inlcuding the top of the 2010 Youtube hit parade, Old Spice (24 million views).

– Drama: less used, but still effective, is drama and spectacle. A good example is the incredible Nike “Write the Future” ad (number 2, with 21 million views). You can click below to watch the ad if you are on the blog.

The second measure of success, which often seems to get overlooked, is what the hell the ad is saying about the brand, if anything.

Combine Youtube views and brand message and we get four main types of Youtube ad, from what I guess would be least effective to most effective:

“The flop”: simply fails to get viewed because it lacks entertainment value. The kiss of death is any ad where the word “inform” or, even worse, “edcuation” was in the brief

 “Sponsored entertainment”: lots of views, but limited brand message. At best the brand is visible and recalled, but simply as the sponsor of a funny ad that has little to say about the brand. The number 5 ad from Gillette is one of these. It features a very cool trick shot from Roger Federer (drama). But the brand is barely visible.

 “Branded content”: lots of views, but the brand is embedded into the ad. The Doritos ad in numer 8 position with 7 million views is a good example of this. It uses humour to tell a story about a little boy trying to protect his Doritos and his mum from her new boyfriend.

 “Branded interaction”: this is more rare. Its where an ad has lots of views and goes beyond brand messaging to creating brand interaction. The Tippex ad at number 4 with 13 million views is an example. The charcater in the ad reaches out of the film to take the Tippex, whites out “shoots” from the film title (“A hunter shoots a bear” and invites you to write another word in. Whatever you type is then acted out. Like a naughty school boy I typed in a rude word and the results were quite amusing!

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In conclusion, assuming you think that having lots of Youtube views is a good thing (even though you don’t know who is viewing) the key to success is to tell a brand story that entertains people through humour and/or spectacle. Even better is to find a way like Tippex to get people to interact with your brand.