Insights from the 3 Most-Viewed Video Ads

 In Digital Marketing

Video advertising has become a must for many businesses in the current digital age, when successful, video ads can make a lasting impact on people for a product or business. We looked into some of YouTube’s top viewed video ads to explain exactly what made these videos so successful and how you can use their tactics to your advantage.

#1: Dove

The third top viewed video advertisement of all time comes from Dove’s Real Beauty Campaign. Dove’s video, “Dove Real Beauty Sketches,” went viral in 2013 on social media shortly after it was created. But what makes this video ad so special and why does it have over 111 million views?

The video, which shows different women telling a sketch artist what they look like, sparked an uproar as the women later compare the sketches of themselves against sketches created based on strangers’ descriptions of them. When the sketches are compared side by side, the results shook people to their core: each woman held a lower view of her own beauty when compared to the stranger’s impression of her. The video boldly reveals how harshly people often see themselves compared to how others see them. The number one reason why this advertisement was so widely successful is because of its message and content. Nobody had done this kind of experiment before—let alone use it to advertise a brand. Dove products aren’t even used in the advertisement, but they are seamlessly tied into the content of the “Real Beauty Campaign.” The simple reason why this video is so successful is because it created emotion that viewers could relate to, the concept was entirely original, and the video focused on emotionally compelling content and message, rather than pushing a product.

#2: Volvo

Another chart topping video advertisement comes from Volvo, featuring actor Van Damme doing a seemingly impossible split between two trucks. After watching the video, it’s clear why this advertisement was so successful: what Van Damme does seems to defy the impossible. People across the internet argued whether or not this video was staged with a green screen or actually done by the actor; however, he did actually do this stunt in a closed off, professional area. Whoever came up with this video pitch for Volvo was a genius, inciting unbelievable entertainment and uproar. As people shared the video with friends and family to discuss whether or not the stunt was real, even more attention was drawn.

#3: Always

In 2014, Always came out with the video “Always #Likeagirl.” The video, which features females of every age sharing what it means to do something “like a girl”, breaks down gender stereotypes and exposes the self-consciousness many young girls internalize by the time they reach puberty. The video is raw, showing behind the scenes shots of the director talking to interviewees in the experiment and their reactions to questions. With over 62 million views, this video trended the hashtag #likeagirl on Twitter and across other social platforms. Much like the Dove campaign video, this video helped people connect in new ways with what it truly means to do something “like a girl”. Talking openly about this concept and reimagining its connotation was revolutionary and unifying for many people.

So why did all three of these videos go viral? Why did these advertisements get millions of views and shares on YouTube? Although they range in time and content, two commonalities spread across each of these videos.

First, they provide entertainment and content that really connect people with powerful messages and speak to viewers’ raw emotions.

Second, the advertising of the actual brand or product is very subtle; instead of focusing on pitching a product, the video producers focused on sharing a message to viewers.

Therefore, these videos resonated above traditional advertising and broke records.

What viral videos do you think are noteworthy? What types of videos do you find yourself sharing most online? Join the conversation, leave us a comment below!


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Morgan Birman is CMG’s Video Production Associate. Morgan will graduate from Michigan State University this spring with a Bachelor of Arts in Media and Information with a selective focus in Film and Television Production. She hopes to use film and video to combine her passion for story telling with her passion for social advocacy. Morgan’s previous work includes a short film that aired in the Lansing Film Festival, placing in the top 10.

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