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’
Ad Agency: Anomaly
Brand: Procter & Gamble Co. -- Always
Ad Agency: Leo Burnett
Brand: Clothing brand Wren
Ad Agency: Tatia Pllieva
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
Ad Agency: BETC Digital
Brand: BuzzFeed + Purina
Ad Agency: BuzzFeed
World's Toughest Job - #worldstoughestjob - Official Video
Brand: American GreetingsAd 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.