Branded Videos Really Picked Up Steam in 2013

Since 2009, that innocent time, we’ve viewed branded videos more than 19 billion times, says—or maybe, warns—the new Branded Video Report from Visible Measures, which notes the “proliferation of branded video is still in its early stages.”

That is probably true, though I guess you could argue that something that Visible Measures found visible enough to first start measuring in 2009 could be replaced by some New Something quickly, too.

I wouldn’t bet on that, though, because branded video seems to be an agreeable thing for advertisers—they get viewers to watch for an extended time—and for consumers. Because they’re watching. Like crazy.  

While Visible Measures says 2012 was the year branded videos began sprinting, last year was the first time each of the top 10 campaigns had topped 100 million views.

The new Visible Measures study says of those 19 billion views, audiences themselves generated 3.4 billion views by copying, re-posting, or even making parodies of the original. That figure, like others in the report, comes through Visible Measures True Reach, its own special sauce metric. 

Evidently, the company got wrapped up in the ginormous numbers, noting, for example, that the time spent watching 19 billion videos is equivalent to 72,000 years of video viewing. It notes that 72,000 years ago, humans were first using fire to heat stones and make them into tools.

But it seems that at some other time, in some other medium, ad agencies could have produced similarly staggering numbers for ads per newspaper column inches, or TV and radio minutes. It’s just that the counters these days are counting digital ads. I guess that’s obvious, though hard to grasp, because the Internet is so spread out it’s hard to see the cumulative effect. That’s the battle.     

Visible Measures says in 2013 alone, 8.3 billion views were harvested, which is the real holy-cow figure in a report full of them. Because, as you may have already calculated, that’s a 44% increase in the total branded videos views, from 10.9 billion to 19 billion, in just one lousy year. 

One last batch of figures: New campaigns in 2013 drove 6.5 billion views. In 2012, new campaigns grabbed only 3.8 billion views. Use of the word “only” here is totally, totally ridiculous, but when the numbers get into the billions and billions, as Carl Sagan most famously proved, you can begin to lose the ability to come to grips with it all. To bring it down, just a little, the average campaign had 2.4 million views.

Now, with branded videos, there are so many of them that the idea of sharing them on social media seems diminished. The fact, though, is that those shares and other derivative uses just haven’t increased as fast as production of originals has. Of the 8.3 billion views, all but about 1 million of them came from the brands.  The other million views were circulated some more by consumers. Not bad, for free.

Either as a brand or a viewer, you might like to know that Visible Measures stats show that in 2013, April was the top month for beginning a new campaign, apparently because brands were concerned they would be lost in the flood the ads going live in January and February, due to the Super Bowl.

Trying to avoid that, the glut in 2013 happened in the spring. And, has been reported many times, Super Bowl advertisers that had pre-game views had almost three times the number of views of brands that waited until the allegedly Big Game. Now, it seems, branded videos is a year-round sport.


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