Advertisers Explode the 30-Second Spot on YouTube


For the modern-day Don Drapers of the world, creating advertising for the web has become a much bigger challenge, but one that’s potentially more rewarding. But the ad experience online is flourishing as advertisers make their ads into independently engaging content, and content that’s attracting large audiences.

Today YouTube named the most popular ads viewers watched on the site in 2010 (listed below), and what’s fascinating about the list is how fewer than half are traditional 30-second spots: Old Spice, E*TRADE, Doritos and GEICO. Even those four don’t draw their popularity from traditional TV: The E*TRADE ad, for example, got its online notoriety from riffing on a certain starlet’s misguided lawsuit, and the Doritos ad was a winner of the chip company’s annual user-generated content Super Bowl ad contest.

And Old Spice, as we all observed in 2010, is in a class of its own. In fact, according to a YouTube rep, there were at least 10 Old Spice ads that could have made it onto the list — the final salvo of Old Spice’s July social media blitz, for example, has received 5.1 million views over the last six months.


The sign is clear that YouTube has become a place where advertisers can experiment with video advertising, whether it be a clever use of interactivity, as is the case with the Tippex ad, or a full-length rap video targeted towards minivan drivers — sorry, Swagger Wagon enthusiasts.

Advertisers are even experimenting with YouTube’s own features in terms of distribution: Nike’s Write the Future ad, a three minute short film tied to the World Cup, is currently listed as private on YouTube and was initially distributed as an unlisted video. This allowed Nike to see what kind of spread it could build through word of mouth, blog placement and other strategies — which clearly proved to be successful, as it’s credited with 21.2 million views.

30-second versions of many of these ads do exist — but they’re abridged, with the full experience now living on YouTube, building an audience not during commercial breaks in Two and a Half Men, but with active and engaged users. The internet is a new frontier, and the Mad Men exploring it are really stepping up to the challenge.

YouTube’s Most Popular Advertisements of 2010:

  1. Old Spice “The Man Your Man Could Smell Like” (24.2M)
  2. Nike “Write the Future” (21.2M)
  3. DC Shoes “Ken Block’s Gymkhana THREE, Part 2″ (19.0M)
  4. Tippex “NSFW. A hunter shoots a bear!” (13.1M)
  5. Gillette “Amazing Roger Federer trickshot on Gillette ad shoot” (7.7M)
  6. Toyota “Swagger Wagon” (7.6M)
  7. ETRADE “New E*TRADE Baby – Girlfriend” (6.5M)
  8. Doritos “Crash The Super Bowl 2010 Winner: House Rules” (6.5M)
  9. GEICO “Piggy – GEICO Commercial” (6.2M)
  10. adidas “adidas originals – Star Wars Cantina” (4.7M)
  11. Google “Google Chrome Speed Tests” (4.1M)
  12. Kia “2010 Kia Soul Hamster Commercial” (3.6M)

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