Before YouTube, commercials were primarily shown on TV. Most viewers experienced them as ads sandwiched inside the drama or comedy they were watching.
YouTube changed everything.
When YouTube opened its platform up to the public 10 years ago, ads could be posted there and the reach of many ads exploded. Instead of intrusions that interrupted their favorite programs, consumers began to view many commercials as entertainment and actually sought them out. The advertising industry benefited not only from increased exposure for their work; they could also easily track the number of viewers exposed to it.
As part of its 10-year anniversary celebration, YouTube’s parent company, Google, recently asked users to name their favorite ads from YouTube’s decade-long life.
The most popular video from the last 10 years turned out to be “Kobe v. Messi: The Selfie Shootout.” The 2013 ad has attracted more than 141 million viewers since it went on YouTube, including 25 million in its first three days on the platform.
Our favorite ad came in at number 2. It still makes us smile when we see the littlest Darth Vader working his superpowers on his Dad’s car.
But the real takeaway behind the top 5 list is not the news about which ads were the most viewed. It’s that in just ten years YouTube has changed the way consumers experience commercials.
In today’s world, when advertising professionals produce great ads consumers actively seek them out and share them. The audience is no longer composed of passive consumers. Today’s audience can proactively consume an ad — and the message within it — and experience it as their chosen entertainment.
That behavior opens up opportunities for advertising creatives that even Don Draper never imagined. But you can bet he would run with it. We should too.