YouTube Ads Leaderboard: Create a Christmas ad hit on YouTube

Interacting with ads on YouTube are as much a part of Christmas as present-giving and arguing with the family. VCCP's Matt Lever and Cat Wiles unwrap the secrets to a festive triumph.

"It’s bizarre that brands don’t put a separate brief into the creative department for a YouTube film," rather than just running a TV ad," said VCCP’s deputy executive creative director Matt Lever, in his review of the YouTube Christmas Ads Leaderboard with head of planning Cat Wiles.

The YouTube Ads Leaderboard is a list of the top 10 most popular online video ads in the UK each month. The ranking is determined using some of YouTube’s strongest signals of viewer choice – number of views within the country, view rate (how much of an ad people choose to watch), and percentage of organic views versus paid views.

This Christmas, John Lewis and Adam & Eve/DDB topped the chart with "Moz the Monster." The other brands which made up the top 10 were Marks & Spencer, Sainsbury's,, Argos, Aldi, Waitrose, Debenhams, Boots and Apple.

The Google-owned platform is so interesting for creatives right now, allowing for smart integration of the product and film, Lever said. The Debenhams Christmas ad made just such a clever link, he pointed out: viewers of the ad were immediately able to see where to buy all the clothes that appeared in it.  

Winning on YouTube is about "being more playful, transforming content from being one-way to being more entertaining, and inviting people into the conversation," Wiles says. There were examples of playfulness in the YouTube Christmas Ads Leaderboard - Sainsbury’s release of karaoke videos in which you can "sing along to a dancing sprout" is not taking itself too seriously, said Lever.

An additional benefit of YouTube for Christmas creativity is its lack of time constraint. A film can be watched "in all its glory". Wiles praised Marks & Spencers for turning bumper ads before content into teasers for its own commercial starring Paddington Bear.

For creatives, "YouTube is super exciting going forward," said Lever. "At VCCP, we’re trying to do some really interesting stuff with it and are looking forward to using it in a really different way in the coming months."

For more on the YouTube Ad Leaderboards, see here