We always knew people liked to watch ads. At least some ads, like the great ones people talk about after the Super Bowl. Then YouTube came along in 2005 and brought with it the notion that ads can be great content that earn their way onto screens of all types, spread by consumers who vote, share, like, comment, blog, plus -one, or even create response videos or spoofs.
It's the ultimate meritocracy for video, and advertisers are adapting to this world by creating content that people want to share. Below are the top 10 ads viewed on YouTube over the past year. This is a little different than our weekly Viral Chart, which measures the entire web all videos associated with a campaign. These are the top individual ads as viewed on YouTube, and while the list includes two Super Bowl ads, most here never appeared on traditional TV.
Videos like T-Mobile's "Royal Wedding," itself a spoof of the JK Wedding Dance, were made for the web to amuse, entertain and be passed around, as are mini-movies such as DC Shoe's "Gymkhana Four," stunts like Hot Wheel's record jump and Old Spice's "Scent Vacation."
The two Super Bowl ads making the list were part of elaborate campaigns made to live significant lives on the web. In the past, advertisers treated their Super Bowl spots like state secrets, but Volkswagen posted "The Force" on YouTube two weeks before the Super Bowl last year and had 10 million views before the game began. Expect plenty of imitators to get out of the gate early on the web with their spots starting in the coming weeks.