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Many people in the ad industry despise the phrase "going viral" – it trivializes a complex process and can wrongly equate viewcounts (which can be juiced with paid ads) with marketing success.

But when an ad is a bona fide hit online, there is something very powerful at work: people are actually paying attention to advertisers, and even using their social clout to share ad messages with friends and family. It's a more organic way to speak to potential customers.

On Tuesday, Google Inc. released the ads Canadians watched most on YouTube this year.

They have something in common: advertisers are taking advantage of the online medium to tell longer stories. The top 10 ads were on average two minutes and 39 seconds in length, much longer than the classic 30-second TV spot.

The time people spent watching videos on YouTube has grown 50 per cent this year.

To measure the most-viewed ads, Google looked at both the number of views and also the percentage of "organic" views (people who chose to watch on their own or because something was shared with them) compared with paid views. The period measured was January, 2014, to November, 2014.

Canadians often weren't interested in Canadian-made ads. Only two on the list were homegrown: the TD Bank spot at #1, and the video for Always, which was produced by Leo Burnett's Toronto, Chicago and London offices.

Sometimes you just want to say thank you #TDThanksYou”

Brand: TD Canada

Ad Agency: Diamond Integrated and Leo Burnett

Budweiser Super Bowl XLVIII Commercial – ‘Puppy Love’

Brand: Budweiser

Ad Agency: Anomaly

Always #LikeAGirl

Brand: Procter & Gamble Co. -- Always

Ad Agency: Leo Burnett

First Kiss

Brand: Clothing brand Wren

Ad Agency: Tatia Pllieva

Dove: Patches

Brand: Unilver -- Dove

Ad Agency: Ogilvy & Mather

Drogba vs. Messi: #EpicFood

Brand: Turkish Airlines

Ad Agency: Crispin Porter Bogusky

Most Shocking Second a Day Video

Brand: Save the Children UK

Ad Agency: Don’t Panic

evian Spider-Man - The Amazing Baby & me 2

Brand: Evian

Ad Agency: BETC Digital

Dear Kitten

Brand: BuzzFeed + Purina

Ad Agency: BuzzFeed

World's Toughest Job - #worldstoughestjob - Official Video

Brand: American Greetings

Ad Agency: Mullen

Editor's Note: An earlier online version of this article incorrectly named an ad agency as Diamond Interactive. This version has the correct name, Diamond Integrated.

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