10 Tips For Advertisers To Go Viral On YouTube

When it comes to advertising with videos on YouTube most companies are going about it entirely the wrong way. A lot of advertisers are stuck in the 30-secong television ad mentality and don’t know a thing about creating a promotional video that will go viral on the web. YouTube’s Hunter Walk gave a presentation to advertisers at Cannes and emphasized the importance of creating strong YouTube advertisements. He offered up a lot of great tips for advertisers and we’ve compiled them, along with some great viral advertising examples, to help your company create great advertisements for YouTube.

Make Content, Not Commercials

One of the most important things that Walk stressed in his presentation was the idea that advertisers need to stop thinking in the commercial mindset and start thinking about producing compelling content. An informative video that explains the benefits of your product and how it works just won’t cut it anymore. You need to tell a compelling story or show something that is so funny or unique that viewers just can’t help but share your video with their friends.

When coming up with a concept for your promotional video, take a hint from some companies that have run successful campaigns. Let’s take Kia’s new Hamster Commercial for the Kia Soul as an example. This certainly isn’t you average commercial. It’s a music video, featuring Black Sheep’s ‘The Choice is Yours’ and a bunch of giant hamster. Now, this clip is clearly an advertisement for the Kia Soul, but the very fact that it has giant hamsters rapping and riding through the streets in giant toasters, cardboard cars and dryers make it incredibly viral and compelling content.

Note that the company doesn’t skimp on the branding at the end. After all, branding is always important in advertising. However, add just enough information about your product to get your name out there and don’t over-do it or you may bore your viewers.

Evian’s Roller Babies campaign is another great example of creating great content, rather than plain old commercials. When you watch this clip you know that it was made by Evian, but you aren’t thinking about Evian while watching. You’re thinking about the fact that these babies are dancing! Try to be transparent in your videos – you want viewers to be entertained without thinking about the fact that they are watching an advertisement.

Think About Long Term Strategy

When coming up with a concept for your viral video advertisements, think about the long term. One of the best ways to gain recognition is by creating a series of videos with a single concept or character. This way viewers will get to know your campaign and be excited when a new video comes out.

One of the best examples of this is Old Spice’s current campaign. The Old Spice campaign is made up of a combination of television and web advertisements and has gone massively viral on YouTube and beyond. Check out a few of the videos from the campaign below.

Make Your Videos a Conversation

Creating a dialogue with your customers is incredibly important. Pay attention to what consumers are saying about you and your products and respond to them.

A great example of this is EA Games’ Tiger Wood Walk On Water video. The company created the video as a response to a popular video created by a fan showing off the Jesus shot, Tiger Woods walking on water in the Tiger Woods ’08 game. The response video features Tiger Woods actually walking on water and taking a shot. With millions of views, this was a fantastic move by EA. Check out the fan video as well as EA’s clip below.

Inspire Parodies

Parodies are one of YouTube’s most popular staples. Viewers love a good parody. Advertisers can use this to their advantage. As an advertiser, you can create a video that will inspire parodies and as parodies pop up on the web it will drive even more viewers to your original clip. Parody is the best form of YouTube flattery, so try to come up with video ideas that will inspire YouTube users to create parodies of your advertisement.

We’ll use Old Spice as an example again, as they have managed to create one of the most successful YouTube advertising campaigns of all time. Check out a couple of Old Spice parodies below.

Get Interactive

With YouTube you have the opportunity to create exciting interactive videos with annotations. Annotations give you the opportunity to create all sorts of fun videos, including choose your own adventures and more. The best way to get an understanding of how interactive videos work on YouTube is to check out a couple of great examples.

In our first example, which is an advertisement for the ‘Will It Blend?’ Blendtec blender, users can choose items for the host, Corey Vidal, to blend together and drink. You can click to choose items and watch Corey blend together and drink any combination of eggs, peanut butter, jalapeno peppers, potatoes and more.

The following interactive video, from Patrick Boivin, lets you play Street Fighter on YouTube.

Try to think of how you can use your company’s product or service to create an engaging and entertaining interactive video. It could be your company’s ticket to viral YouTube success.

Solicit Help

Keep in mind that you don’t have to create your videos on your own. You can inspire your customers and fans to make videos for you. Create a contest asking people to create videos about why they love your product and award the winner with some sort of prize. This not only gives you the opportunity to choose from a huge number of video clips, created by fans, but also puts loads of content related to your brand on the Web.

Olympus is currently holding a contest for the Olympus PEN camera. They asked fans to explain what they would do with an Olympus PEN camera and $5,000. The top 6, which were voted on by viewers and have already been selected, win the camera and the money and make their Olympus PEN videos. What does Olympus get out of it? Six amazing web videos promoting their product at the low price of $5,000 and a camera each! They also received tons of coverage as entrants posted videos about what they would do with the PEN camera and promoted it among their friends.

Wow Viewers With Creative Visuals

These days there is so much you can do with animation and visual effects that you can put together all sorts of creative visuals. Animation is huge right now, particularly concepts like stop motion. If you can make a video that makes viewers think, “Wow! That must have taken a long time!” or “How did they do that?” or “That looks so cool!” then you are on the right track.

One of my favorite examples of campaigns that just look cool visually is the Amazon Kindle stop motion campaign. This campaign aired on television, but I am including it here because it was uploaded to YouTube as well and has gotten a significant number of views over numerous uploads.

Brand it

As we mentioned earlier, branding is extremely important in your YouTube promotional videos. Viewers should know that your brand is behind the video without having it shoved in their face. Find a comfortable balance between content and brand.

Don’t create a video that isn’t related to your product or service at all. You don’t need to totally hide the fact that you are creating an advertisement. Just be sure to focus on telling a story involving your product, rather than talking only about the features and uses of your product.

Make Lots Of Videos

Don’t think that all it takes to go viral on YouTube is a single video. The companies, like Old Spice, that have created many videos are the companies that see the biggest success rate. When you create a variety of videos not only are consumers more likely to find your video clips, but are also more likely to stay on your channel for longer, watching more of your videos and getting a better idea of your brand and your product.


Finally, don’t be afraid to experiment. Try out one concept and, if it doesn’t work, go for something else. Not all of your campaigns and videos are going to be a success. You have to try new things and see what works for you.

Now that you are armed with some helpful tips for creating video advertisements that will go viral on YouTube, start brainstorming, and we wish you a successful campaign!

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