10 most-viewed YouTube ads in India in 2013: some thoughts

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Google India has announced the list of Top 10 most-viewed YouTube ads in India this year. The list includes Google Reunion, Samsung Galaxy S4 introduction video, Cadbury Ramesh-Suresh, Old Spice Mantastic and others. (see all the ads here). Aside from the list, Google provided this commentary on the trends:

– YouTube is a platform to run Global brand campaigns: Unlike television where content distribution is limited by the reach of the channel it is broadcasted, YouTube campaigns have a global impact and reaches out to the global netizens. Some of the major global brands have come up with campaigns made exclusively for YouTube.

– Web first campaigns are here to stay: With the growing Internet user base in India, many leading brands are now making web only or web first campaigns – releasing their campaigns on web first.

– Longer duration ads gives more freedom to creative minds: These are exciting times for creative professionals as they have the freedom of going beyond 30 second limit, establish open communication with the consumer and inspire people to share the ads with their circle of friends. Creative professionals are experiencing a new high in the era of digital platforms, which is unshackling the talent of highly skilled advertising professionals in India.

– Ads with humour, emotions, babies, tech companies rule: Cadbury 5 star ad featuring funny duo of Ramesh and Suresh, Google reunion campaign which reunites friends split by partition have shown the success of emotional ads on YouTube. Evian and Nestle Kitkat baby ads captured the imagination of netizens. 

My take on the list and YouTube ads in general (aside from or amplifying on the points mentioned above):

– Google commented on the Samsung S4 introduction video saying, ‘a completely product driven ad campaign giving viewers a detailed visual info of all the features of the mobile phone. It’s very interesting way to keep the audience focus intact on the product‘. While it may be so (cannot argue with 16mn views) that video could command such views only because of the interest in the company and the brand. Not all brands (especially tech brands) can expect such viral views for plain videos like this. What helped Samsung was the tremendous interest over the company (vis-a-vis Apple), the brand Galaxy (against the iPhone) and recommendations from celebrities like Guy Kawasaki (who is now an advisor to Motorola).  Even the product intro videos of Apple garner high viewership, again thanks to the hype around the brand and the launches. But this is not a guaranteed formula for viral success for all brands.

– Babies are passport to success. The cuter they are, higher the chance of success. Even with relatively poor production values (like the KitKat India ad) it could work. In my view, the KitKat India ad was no patch in terms of computer graphics to the Evian ad. But then, the format was something of a novelty for India and the crowd loved it.

– Ironically, the very ad which was panned in social media is also a viral hit. I am referring to the Old Spice Mantastic ads which did not go well with the Twitter crowd which had some nasty things to say about it. The response campaign on Twitter was much appreciated though.

– Longer duration ads (which is pitched as a huge carrot for web-only films) can be a double edged sword. Creatives can get carried away with the joy of unrestricted duration time. However the bottom line is about producing interesting content  – whether it is 30-seconds or 3 minutes. Personally speaking, noticing that a YouTube film is 5-minutes long makes me apprehensive and hesitant to watch the film – I fear I will get bored soon. Whether I go through with the film or not depends entirely on whether the film manages to hold my interest in the first few seconds or minutes.

– Ads happen to go viral: even after all these years of YouTube videos and viral hits, you can still hear the phrase ‘lets make a viral video’ among marketing & advertising teams.

– If one is making a video hoping it will go viral, it takes a big idea, a lot of planning and great execution. Let’s face it, a lot of brands create videos with an eye on the YouTube viral chart. In such cases, the idea has to be strong and it takes great planning and effort to ensure that both the central idea and the video are enjoyable. As seen in this video for WestJet Christmas Miracle.

– Never underestimate the power of the case study video: aside from pure advertising commercials (like the Google reunion ad, which are also aired on TV) the other kinds of ‘ads’ which go viral are the ones for activation – like the Lifebuoy one or the WestJet one. The popularity of such videos depends of course on the strength of the core idea obviously. But equally important is how the video is made – it is what tells the outside world what the idea is all about. So the scripting and production values and ‘telling the story differently’ are critical.

– As mentioned by Google, YouTube is a platform to run global brand campaigns. But that does not mean that it is meant only for global brands. In fact, it helps brands break geographical barriers. Remember  TNT’s Made for Drama video? It happened in Belgium but was watched globally. So if a brand’s activation idea is great and if the video is interesting it has the potential to be a global brand, irrespective of the brand’s local origins.

Any other thoughts? Do comment in.

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