Commentary

We Are What We Share; Unruly Unveils Its Top 20 Shared Ad Videos for 2013

  Unruly, the keepers of their Global Social Video Chart and top cheerleader for ad-sharing, unveiled its list of the top 20 shared video ads for 2013 this morning. Dove Beauty Sketches, not surprisingly given the attention it received, was most shared -- 4.24 million times on Facebook and Twitter and elsewhere since April. (It’s also been seen over 127 million times on YouTube.)

More surprisingly—it debuted just a little over a week ago--is the new commercial for Volvo featuring Jean-Claude Van Damme in a stunt that the car and truck maker claimed in a story on thedrum.com was done in one take. Standing between two moving Volvo FM trucks with a foot on each side mirror, Van Damme rides along as the trucks separate just a bit, and a bit more. It’s worth seeing, and sharing. Also, I would think it’s fair to warn: Don’t try this at home.

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That commercial has been sent off to be seen by others 1.82 million times, placing it tenth on Unruly’s list. That’s really viral for ans ad that’ been out there less than a month.

The entire list is here. It includes brands and commercials you’d expect, like “Test Drive,” (number 4) the Pepsi Max ad featuring Jeff Gordon and Kmart’s funny-one-time “Ship My Pants” (number 7).  It also includes, at number 5, a long-ish video for Unilever ice cream brand  Cornetto, made for a Turkish audience (though there’s no voices in the spot). It’s been shared over 2.91 million times, but 85% of those were in Turkey and thereabouts.   

That Volvo commercial is a little over one minute long. The Dove video, which was distributed by Unruly, is more than three minutes long. But a few of the top placers are just as long as the ordinary length TV spot, including the peculiarly popular Geico “Hump Day” spot, number 2 on the list, with 4.03 million shares.

What makes it confounding is that Unruly has previously figured out when people are most likely to share ads they see online. Wednesday is not that day, except for this Geico spot as Unruly’s David Waterhouse pointed out in a MediaPost essay in July.

Altogether the top 10 ads have been shared over 29 million times. That, says Richard Kosinski, U.S. president of Unruly, is up 52% over the year before. “That’s a big number. It shows you that sharing is becoming top of mind for brands.”

For Kosinski and Unruly, it’s all about dollars (and pounds, given it’s a British company), but the viral-ability of some ads is, he says, a kind of proof of human nature. “People have an innate desire to share things that they like. We just create the tool to let people do it better.” Viral videos are, he says, a modern extension of word-of-mouth. “It used to be all about click-throughs,” but Kosinski says, Unruly’s research says ads that are shared now result in a wildly increased purchase intent by the viewers on the receiving end of shared video.  

It Unruly Lab and Unruly Analytics has put the various aspects of good and bad sharing into a code of sorts, and the company says it can predict the shareability of ads, using, it says, 2.7 million customizable data points to provide “real-time competitive benchmarks.”  Its Unruly Viral Video Chart has tracked 365 billion videos since 2006. I’m more than 364 billion behind.  

pj@mediapost.com

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