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The best branded digital videos of 2016

The best branded digital videos of 2016 Brian Shin

2016 was a record-breaking year for branded digital video. In 2016, branded video campaigns launched throughout the year garnered a True Reach of over 25.5 billion views, an increase of 32 percent from 2015. In addition to achieving a record-breaking True Reach for the year, the 2016 Summer Olympics was the biggest event for online branded video viewership of all time, garnering more than 1 billion views and surpassing the 2014 World Cup, which previously held the record. With so many successful campaigns launching in 2016, what made the top campaigns of the year stand out?

Many of the top campaigns of 2016 featured new products, celebrity appearances, or were created around events. In addition, all of the top campaigns featured longer video content. While the top campaigns contain multiple creatives of varying lengths, all 10 had at least one creative that was at least 90 seconds long. Events also played a major role in online branded video in 2016. Two campaigns in the top 10 for the year were released for the Summer Olympics, and another campaign was themed around the holidays.

1. Shell

Shell's Make the Future campaign achieved more than 261 million views this year after launching in September, putting the campaign in first place. The campaign features famous singers from around the world, including Jennifer Hudson, Steve Aoki, Pixie Lott, Luan Santana, Yemi Alade, and Tan WeiWei, in a music video for "Best Day Of My Life." The campaign highlights the need for more alternative energy and shows how celebrities and music videos can lead to a very highly viewed branded video campaign.

2. Samsung

Galaxy S7 is the first of three Samsung campaigns to make the top 10 of 2016. Despite the issues Samsung faced this year with its smartphone recall, the heavy promotion of its electronics and Olympics campaigns earlier in the year kept them on top in branded video. The Galaxy S7 campaign came in second place and promoted the phone's features though multiple videos. The humorous ad "Why?" features celebrities Wesley Snipes, Lil Wayne, James Harden, and William H. Macy. The celebrities ask why their phones can't do the things that they wish they could do, while showing how the new Samsung Galaxy S7 smartphone is water resistant in addition to having a low light camera and memory expansion. The other videos in the campaign continue to focus on promoting the phone's features and technology.

3. John Lewis

John Lewis' holiday campaign, #BusterTheBoxer, despite only launching in November was able to grab third place for the year with over 219 million views. The campaign tells the story of parents who get a trampoline for their daughter for Christmas, and the family's dog Buster who wants to jump on it more than anything. John Lewis releases a big holiday campaign every year that viewers anticipate each holiday season. This year's holiday campaign did not disappoint fans, garnering 3.7x the views of the brand's 2015 holiday campaign #ManOnTheMoon

4. Samsung

Samsung's Galaxy S7 and S7 edge Official Introduction introduced the design, camera, Samsung Pay, and the Gear 360 features of the brand's newest smartphones. The second campaign from Samsung to make the top 10, this campaign accumulated a True Reach of more than 167 million views in 2016 putting it in fourth place.

5. Nike

Nike's Unlimited campaign is one of two Olympics campaigns to make the top 10 chart this year. The funny and inspirational campaign includes a variety of videos about what it means to be "Unlimited." One of the highest viewed creatives, "Unlimited You," starts with footage of young people who are trying and failing at various sports while a voiceover tells them that they will accomplish all these amazing things in these sports one day. As the ad continues, the people in the ad seem to develop a mind of their own and take their confidence to a new level. They begin surprising the narrator and performing amazing feats while the narrator begs them not to do these scary stunts. Huge sports stars appear too, including Serena Williams and Mo Farah. Nike's use of the hype around the Olympics and celebrity athletes, combined with funny and unique videos led to the brand's success with this campaign in 2016.

6. Purple

Purple's Raw Egg Test is in sixth place after achieving a True Reach of more than 163 million views in 2016. Purple was able to break onto this list of big established brands with its unique campaign. The campaign's main creative is a humorous take on "Goldilocks and the Three Bears" and features a Goldilocks character trying the raw egg test on every type of mattress. In the video raw eggs are attached to a heavy piece of glass which is dropped on top of the different mattresses. With the regular mattresses, the eggs all break, but when the test is performed on the Purple mattress the eggs don't break. The idea behind the test is that if the mattress can keep the egg from breaking while also supporting all that weight, it will also be able to cradle your pressure points and lead to better sleep and a healthy back.

7. YouTube

Each year YouTube releases a highly anticipated annual recap video, highlighting the biggest viral trends of the past year and featuring a slew of YouTube celebrities. YouTube Rewind: The Ultimate 2016 Challenge followed the same pattern. Even though it launched late in the year, in December, the campaign was still able to make the top campaigns of 2016 with a True Reach of more than 154 million views. The campaign's use of YouTube celebrities allows them to attract those creators' fan bases, leading to huge viewership on the videos each year. In addition, users love to "react" to the video and add their own commentary, leading to a large amount of user-generated video content created around this campaign.

8. Nike

The second Nike campaign on the chart, The Switch, garnered more than 126 million views in 2016. The six-minute short film stars Cristiano Ronaldo and tells a Freaky-Friday-style story. When Ronaldo knocks into a kid at a soccer match, they wake up the next morning in each other's bodies. They both train hard and Ronaldo, still in another person's body, eventually makes it to a match where he is playing against "himself." The two knock into each other during the game, and they end up back in the correct bodies. The star power of this ad combined with great storytelling led to the campaign's success in 2016.

9. Victoria's Secret

The 2016 Victoria's Secret Fashion Show CM campaign garnered a True Reach of more than 117 million views since its launch at the end of October, putting it in ninth place. The videos in the campaign introduced this year's models, revealed the location of the fashion show, and brought viewers behind the scenes as the models prepared for the show. A highly anticipated event each year, the online campaign leading up to the fashion show was very successful for the brand as fans wanted to get a glimpse behind the scenes. Victoria's Secret also pulled in a lot of views from Instagram video for this campaign. With many of the models also posting copies of the videos on their own Instagram and Facebook pages, even more views were added to the campaign's overall True Reach.

10. Samsung

Samsung's Olympics campaign, #DoWhatYouCant‬, earned more than 103 million views this year, grabbing the campaign the tenth spot on the chart. The campaign features South Sudanese athlete Margret Rumat Rumat Hassan getting ready for the Rio Games while the viewer hears her name being chanted by her community at home in the background of the video. This was South Sudan's first time ever in the Olympic Games, and Samsung is a "proud sponsor of those who defy barriers." Samsung also promoted its new IconX cord-free earbuds in the video. The campaign features additional videos about other Olympic athletes and the challenges they have overcome in their journey to the games.

Brian Shin is the founder and CEO of Visible Measures. He has more than 15 years experience starting and building innovative early stage technology companies. Brian has co-founded several successful Internet startups, including web-based...

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