Every week, the Ad Age Viral Video Chart presents the top 10 most-viewed brand-driven videos on the web with one major caveat: There are no movie or video-game trailers included in the findings. Why? Well, it’s not really a fair fight. Put it this way: Old Spice guy Isaiah Mustafa — even with all his talent and outstanding physique — would barely have a chance.
Movie and video-game trailers are very different in the way they’re shared on the web. For one, both game and movie trailers are snippets of the franchises themselves, such as “Harry Potter” and “Call of Duty,” familiar content that’s more readily shared, so it’s inherently easier for those kind of ads to rise to the top. Plus, movie and gaming marketers out-spend brand marketers exponentially in the weeks and days leading up to their releases, so the number of paid impressions far outweighs any organic view of a viral commercial.
So what would the viral chart look like if we included movies and video games? We asked Visible Measures to help us find out, by including the entertainment category in the numbers, and the results were a bit staggering. Without movies or video games, Visible Measures’ top 10 Viral Video Ads would have only amassed a combined view count of 320 million views for the year. But with them, the total view count tops more than 1.1 billion views. The only “social ad” to make the top 10 was Old Spice’s “Responses” campaign — and that’s just barely there, at No. 10. The rest of the chart is dominated by seven movies and two video games, led by the trailer for “The Twilight Saga: Eclipse.”
So when it comes to viral ads, even Isaiah Mustafa is no match for Edward Cullen — “Eclipse” scored more than triple the views of Old Spice’s aggregate campaign in July, 220.19 million vs. 68.74 million, respectively.
While trailers for some of the year’s biggest blockbusters should come as no surprise (“Toy Story 3,” “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1,” “Alice in Wonderland” and “Iron Man 2″ all round out the top 10), there are a few unexpected appearances. No. 2, for example, is Sony’s “The Karate Kid,” a breakout box office hit this summer (more than $176 million in grosses) but hardly a $300 million-plus franchise tentpole, either. Perhaps most astonishing is the No. 3 appearance of Disney’s “Step Up 3D,” which has racked up more than 138 million trailer views yet managed only $42 million in ticket receipts — proof that YouTube views don’t always translate to sales.
Elsewhere, Treyarch’s “Call of Duty: Black Ops” leads the video-game category at No. 5 with more than 110 million views, while Bungie’s “Halo: Reach” trails closely behind at No. 8 with 74.4 million views. Although gaming trailers generate lots of views in the pre-release stages, the real traffic comes from the days and weeks after their initial release, when user-generated game-play and how-to videos are uploaded and shared like wildfire among gamers. Visible Measures includes these aggregate clips in each title’s total view counts.
Although there’s still three weeks left in the year, expect few changes to the chart before 2010 comes to a close. Both movie and video-game trailers receive the highest volume of views in the week leading up to the title’s release, so the figures are fairly front-loaded. However, there’s still time for one major holiday release (“Tron: Legacy,” perhaps?) to sneak in. But perhaps the real question is which brands will crack next year’s top 10, and who will be the Isaiah Mustafa of 2011? You’ve got 12 months and at least 68 million views to prove yourselves, marketers.