The 10 Most Watched Ads on YouTube in 2013

Headshot of Tim Nudd

Going viral. It's become a kind of holy grail in advertising—manufactured by consumers, demanded by clients, parodied by agencies. But in a given year, only a handful of spots break through to become megahits—blowing past the 10 million views mark on YouTube (a useful guidepost for gauging supervirals) and engaging with blockbuster TV-size audiences.

YouTube and Adweek have been tracking these virals all year long with our monthly Ads Leaderboard, celebrating the most-viewed spots that have a strong earned-to-paid views ratio. (In other words, can't just buy your way on to the list.) Now, we wrap up the year by looking at the 10 most-viewed spots in 2013 as a whole.

It's an interesting mix. You've got familiar viral themes like babies, pranks, nostalgia, female empowerment, comedy. You've got a pair of scatalogically themed spots. And you've got three auto ads from the Super Bowl (though notably, they're toward the bottom of the list—being on the Super Bowl helps, but usually only gets you to a certain level online).

You can see all the spots at the link below. But first, a word about the methodology. To be eligible for the Ads Leaderboard, commercials must be marked as ads on YouTube (i.e., they get some paid views), but as mentioned above, they must also earn significant organic views.

Some spots that got more than 10 million views and which were on our monthly lists are not listed here—because their earned-to-paid-views ratios were not as strong as the spots included here. Others, like Samsung's Super Bowl ad with Paul Rudd and Seth Rogen, are missing because they were removed from YouTube by the companies.

@nudd Tim Nudd is a former creative editor of Adweek.