As we look back on 2012, one of the biggest questions we saw around choice-based video advertising was related to scale. Can choice-based video reach television-sized audiences or the equivalent of impression-based video campaigns, measured in the tens of millions, if not hundreds of millions of impressions?
While we still have a long way to go for the average choice-based campaign to consistently reach TV and in-stream levels, consider this: Three campaigns in 2012 topped 100 million video views. "Kony 2012" topped 210 million video views. Red Bull's "Stratos" campaign topped 150 million video views. And "Angry Birds Space" topped 100 million video views. And these aren't Super Bowl campaigns.
Also, when people choose to watch a video ad, the experience is entirely different than if they see it via pre-roll or on TV. They're more engaged and, as a result, have better recall of the ad, brand, and message. Yes, it's more challenging for brands to convince consumers to choose to watch their video ads, but when they do, it pays off.
The top video campaigns are also getting bigger. Last year's most-watched ad, Volkswagen's "The Force" (62 million views in 2011), would only take fifth place on the 2012 list. The average view count for campaigns in the top 10 in 2011 was 33 million. The average in 2012 is 80 million -- more than double.
So what are brands to make of this trend? Audiences are increasingly looking for news, information, and entertainment in video. If a brand produces good content, audiences will choose to watch them. And if they don't, they'll choose to watch a competitor's video content instead.
With content at the center of video performance, we wanted to show you the phenomenal content that audiences chose to watch more than any other video ads this year. To compile this top 10 list of 2012 video ad campaigns, we looked at thousands of video campaigns and ranked their performance by our MRC-accredited True Reach metric in 2012. True Reach combines the video viewership of the original clips uploaded by the brand and their agencies along with clips uploaded by audiences, including copies of the original ads and derivative content such as video responses, spoofs, mixes, mashups, and more. All views are user-initiated, meaning a real person needs to click the play button for a view to count.
Editor's note: This list represents the top 10 campaigns as of Nov. 29. At that time, a new campaign by Metro was at 31.6 million views and still climbing. It's likely that, before 2012 is over, this campaign will surpass one or more of those on this list.