Celebrate YouTube’s 10th Anniversary by Watching the Top 10 Marketing Videos Ever Published on the Site
YouTube, the preeminent video-sharing website, celebrated its tenth anniversary on February 13, 2015. Considering how intertwined the website has become with our lives, it’s hard to imagine a time when YouTube didn’t exist. Can you imagine a world without adorable cat and baby videos, “Gangnam Style,” and other viral sensations easily accessible with the click of the mouse?
Apparently, once upon a time, such a world existed. YouTube was born on February 14, 2005, on Valentine’s Day (which is rather appropriate considering how billions of people have fallen in love with the website). It was created by three former PayPal employees—Steve Chen, Chad Hurley, and Jawed Karim. Oddly enough, the three founders have never agreed on how they got the idea for the website.
According to Hurley and Chen (@Chad_Hurley & @stevechen), they conceived of YouTube in early 2005 when they realized that no online platform existed for them to share a video they’d taken at a dinner party. Karim, on the other hand, says that the dinner party story is bogus (it was apparently created for marketing purposes). Karim said that he conceived of YouTube in 2004, when he couldn’t easily find video clips online of Janet Jackson’s “wardrobe malfunction” at the Super Bowl and the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami.
The first YouTube video wasn’t uploaded until April 23, 2005, by Karim. Entitled “Me at the Zoo,” the video is as banal as it gets, as it shows Karim making an 18-second observation about some of the animals at the zoo. The video was shot using a shaky recording device—a far cry from the slickly produced viral videos that can be found on YouTube today.
In terms of video views, YouTube achieved its first major milestone in September 2005 when a Nike ad featuring Ronaldinho got one million views (@Nike). Following $3.5 million in investment from Sequoia Capital in November of the same year, YouTube was able to significantly upgrade its bandwidth and servers, and was officially launched out of beta on December 15, 2005.
The cherry on top of the cake, of course, was Google’s acquisition of YouTube in October 2006, for the record-breaking sum of $1.65 billion in stock. Larry Page and Sergey Brin clearly saw YouTube’s potential, even going so far as to call it “the next step in the evolution of the Internet.”
“The combined companies will focus on providing a better, more comprehensive experience for users interested in uploading, watching and sharing videos, and will offer new opportunities for professional content owners to distribute their work to reach a vast new audience,” stated the official press release announcing the acquisition.
True to their word, YouTube launched its Partner Program in May 2007 to allow its most popular users (known as Partners) to earn from their viral content. A year later, the most successful Partners were earning six-figure incomes from the video content they’d produced, uploaded, and shared on YouTube. In 2011, YouTube went a step further by launching its first original channels featuring content made exclusively for YouTube.
By 2015, some of the most viewed videos on YouTube had averaged hundreds of millions, and even billions, of views. Currently, the most viewed video ever on YouTube is PSY’s “Gangnam Style,” which has been viewed over 2.2 billion times.
According to official statistics from YouTube and Pew Research Center (@pewresearch), YouTube now has more than 1 billion users. Additionally, 300 hours of video are uploaded to the platform every minute. That’s pretty mind-boggling.
Not bad for a website that was originally supposed to be a dating site.
YouTube—an Essential Tool for Digital Marketers
With so many eyeballs on YouTube and its never-ending stream of uploaded content, it’s not surprising that many brands and companies are relying on YouTube to broaden their audience, increase their online and offline presence, and drive their business goals.
Pixability, the YouTube ad buying and video marketing platform (@pixability), recently released a study entitled The Top 100 Global Brands: Key Lessons for Success on YouTube. The study found that nearly all (except one) of the Top 100 Global Brands have built a considerable presence on YouTube, as the video-sharing website has become an essential component to any digital marketing strategy. Astonishingly, 56 of the Top 100 Global Brands have 10 or more YouTube channels.
According to the study, “The best [brands] are moving beyond television-style brand awareness to much more socially-engaged, longer-form, content rich channels. They [also] understand that video marketing is just as important as video production.”
On the other hand, many of the Top 100 Global Brands fail to saturate their audiences because they focus more on video production at the expense of video marketing. As a result, “over 50% of the videos produced by the Top 100 Global Brands have less than 1,000 views.”
Nevertheless, there are brands and companies that understand the power of video marketing and have successfully harnessed its ability to deliver results. Brands and companies that have launched successful video marketing campaigns on YouTube and other social media sites have managed to overcome one pivotal challenge: How to explode into mainstream consciousness and cut a straight path through the collective noise.
Many brands and companies that have carved such a path have incorporated viral marketing tactics into their video marketing strategies. By employing viral marketing tactics, these brands and companies catch the attention of social media users, and compel them to engage with and share their video content.
Viral marketing is any marketing tactic that induces the online community to pass on a marketing message to other websites, social media sites, and users. The exponential growth in shares increases the marketing message’s online and offline visibility, and also increases the brand or company’s online and offline visibility.
The Top 10 Viral Marketing Videos on YouTube
Considering the huge amount of content being uploaded onto social media platforms on an hourly and daily basis, what should marketers, brands, and companies focus on to increase the chances that their video content will go viral?
According to Jonah Berger (@j1berger)—The New York Times bestselling author and professor—emotion is the mental and instinctive response that marketers, brands, and companies need to harness as it drives sharing—whether it’s on social media or the water cooler in the office.
“Emotion is one factor that drives sharing. We see lots of funny stuff go viral on YouTube, but we also see angry political rants get shared,” noted Berger. “Any emotion that fires us up—humor, awe and excitement, but also anger and anxiety—drives us to share.”
The great thing about social media sites like YouTube is that it levels the playing field for everyone. While factors like video production and marketing budget are still important, a truly great idea, skillful execution, as well as the ability to tap into the public’s current mood and predilections can cause marketing videos to generate hundreds, thousands, millions—and yes—even billions of views on YouTube.
If you’re looking for ideas, here are the top ten marketing videos on YouTube. Some of these videos are heartwarming, while others are shocking, funny, or surprising. None of them, however, are boring.
1. Evian Baby and Me
Views: 101 Million
The French mineral water company, Evian (@evianwater), created a buzz with its “Evian Babies” series. “Baby & Me” was the third in the series, and was published on YouTube in April 2013. The minute-long video clip features adult actors dancing with their reflections (which happen to be baby versions of themselves).
The video has since notched up an astonishing 101 million views, which was bolstered by its own Facebook page, a sweepstakes to promote the ad, and other promotional tools. Evian has also expanded the series into a Baby & Me mobile app, earning much online and offline brand exposure for the company.
2. Dumb Ways to Die
Views: 99 Million
“Dumb Ways to Die” was an innovative public safety video by Metro Trains Melbourne (@metrotrains) and advertising agency McCann Erickson (@McCann_WW). The public safety video employed a catchy song, compelling graphics, and cute (if somewhat morbid) characters to deliver rail safety education.
The video has earned an astonishing 99 million views and has won numerous awards worldwide. In May 2013, Metro Trains Melbourne released the equally popular “Dumb Ways to Die” app for iOS.
3. Volvo Trucks – The Epic Split feat. Van Damme (Live Test 6)
Views: 77 Million
Volvo Trucks’ “The Epic Split featuring Van Damme (Live Test 6)” showcases the Belgian actor performing an epic split between two Volvo trucks. The unusual publicity stunt earned the video (and Volvo) 77 million views on YouTube. “The Epic Split” was the sixth in a series of live test films produced for Volva (@VolvoTrucks) by the Swedish agency Forsman & Bodenfors (@ForsBodenfors).
4. Dove Real Beauty Sketches
Views: 65 Million
Dove, the toiletries brand owned by Unilever (@Dove & @Unilever), set a standard that other brands and companies have tried to emulate with its “Real Beauty Sketches” marketing campaign. “Real Beauty Sketches,” which was released in April 2013, featured several women describing themselves to a forensic sketch artist who cannot see his subjects. These same women were then described to the forensic sketch artist by strangers who met the women on the previous day.
When both sets of sketches were compared, the strangers’ descriptions were invariably more flattering and accurate than the women’s self-descriptions. The uplifting video went viral on social media, and was downloaded more than 15 million times within a week of its release. “Real Beauty Sketches” earned 65 million views on YouTube, and set a new standard for uplifting, informative, and socially conscious media and content.
5. Telekinetic Coffee Shop Surprise
Views: 61 Million
Considered to be one of the most brilliant marketing campaigns ever devised to promote a movie, “Telekinetic Coffee Shop Surprise” was staged to promote the movie Carrie (@CarrieMovie). The video shows a young woman wreaking havoc inside a Manhattan coffee shop after another patron accidentally spills coffee on her laptop. The video has earned 61 million views on YouTube, and generated a great deal of online and offline publicity for the movie.
6. Always #LikeAGirl
Views: 56 Million
Always, the brand of feminine hygiene products (@Always) owned by Procter & Gamble (@ProcterGamble), created a viral hit with its “Always #LikeAGirl” marketing campaign. The video explored the negative perceptions associated with the hashtag “#LikeAGirl,” and how such forms of discrimination affected the self-esteem of young women. “Always #LikeAGirl” served to empower pubescent girls, and like Dove’s “Real Beauty Sketches,” earned numerous social media shares. It has been viewed 56 million times on YouTube.
7. A DRAMATIC SURPRISE ON A QUIET SQUARE
Views: 52 Million
To launch the TNT channel in Belgium, the network hired Belgian agency Duval Guillaume Modem (@DuvalGuillaume) to stage a guerrilla marketing stunt on an otherwise quiet square in a Belgian town. The video—which dared unsuspecting passersby to push a button that would unleash actors acting out action sequences—got 4.5 million views in its first 24 hours. The video has earned 52 million views on YouTube and created an unprecedented viral buzz for TNT.
8. Old Spice | The Man Your Man Could Smell Like
Views: 50 Million
Old Spice’s (@OldSpice) “The Man Your Man Could Smell Like” marketing campaign (which was created by ad agency Wieden+Kennedy) (@WiedenKennedy) become a viral hit after it was published on YouTube in February 2010. “The Man Your Man Could Smell Like” was played by actor Isaiah Mustafa, who recites a series of humorous monologues while undergoing numerous costume and location changes. The video earned 50 million views on YouTube.
9. Jeff Gordon: Test Drive | Pepsi Max
Views: 43 Million
In this video, the stock car racing driver Jeff Gordon (@JeffGordonWeb) in partnership with Pepsi MAX (@pepsi) paid an unsuspecting visit to a car salesman in a car dealership. The video was shortened into a television advertisement and aired throughout North America during the 2013 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season. While the prank was later reported to be a hoax by the writer Travis Okulski, it has since earned 43 million views on YouTube.
10. Felix Baumgartner’s supersonic freefall from 128k’ – Mission Highlights
Views: 37 Million
The energy drink company Red Bull (@redbull) created a sensation when it released a marketing campaign showing the Austrian skydiver, Felix Baumgartner, jumping from the stratosphere and breaking the speed of sound by reaching an estimated speed of *833.9 mph (1,342.8 km/ h). These, and other pioneering marketing campaigns by Red Bull, not only created significant brand exposure for the brand, but also delivered valuable data that could be used for future space exploration.
Does you brand/company strive to build a strong presence on YouTube? Have you successfully incorporated video marketing into your digital marketing strategy?
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