What the Top 10 Viral Videos of 2013 Taught Us

Mallory Russell / December 24, 2013

Dove Sketch 2 FInalLast year was a turning point for branded video. It was a year of big campaigns, the year of Kony 2012 and Red Bull’s Stratos. In fact, six of the top 10 most viral branded video campaigns of all time were released in 2012. That left some big shoes for 2013 to fill, but fill them it did.

This year was the year that branded video came into its own. Like the year prior, 2013 saw its share of monster campaigns like Dove’s Real Beauty Sketches, which tops is the most viral branded video of 2013. But more than that, it was a year when brands began to perfect not only their stories, but also their storytelling.

The result of this storytelling was brands’ ability to drive views and buzz year round, without the help of any kind of media event like the Super Bowl or Oscars. Dove drove views by sparking debate over beauty ideals with its campaign, Real Beauty Sketches. Samsung teamed up with Jay-Z to offer its customers exclusive access to a new album. And Intel and Toshiba produced its third social film, The Power Inside, driving more views with its comedic film this year than in its two prior films.

The year saw more campaigns reach 20, 30, 40, and 50 million views and do it in a faster time than ever before. We can see the increase in views, overall, on our Top 10 list. And while last year’s most-watched ad, Kony 2012 still eclipses the top campaign in 2013 by nearly 80 million views, it took more views to make the top 10 list this year than it did last year. It took 35 million views to reach the No. 10 slot last year. This year it took more than 56 million views, an increase of more than 20 million views.

And the average viewership of the Top 10 campaigns increased from 80 million views on average in 2012 to 84.9 million views in 2013. This despite the fact that two campaigns generated more than 100 million views and one campaign topped 200 million views in 2012, whereas three campaigns topped 100 million views this year. This speaks to the strength of viewership across all 10 campaigns this year.

So let’s take a look the branded content campaigns, released in 2013, that viewers chose to view the most. To compile this list, we looked at thousands of campaigns and ranked their performance by our MRC-accredited True Reach® metric. True Reach combines the brand-driven viewership and audience-driven viewership, which include copies and derivative content like responses, spoofs, mixes, and mashups. All views are user-initiated, which means that a person has to press play for a view to count.

This list was pulled on December 24. It’s important to note that from the first time we looked at this list at the beginning of December to today, it has changed quite a bit. The Selfie Shootout, Live Test, and What Does 2013 Say? were all released after mid-November and quickly made their way into the ranks of the most viral campaigns of the year. Their accession to the list also shows just how quickly viral videos grow in 2013.


The Top 10 Most Viral Branded Campaigns of 2013

Real Beauty Sketches
True Reach: 135,838,683 views
The Selfie Shootout
True Reach: 133,722,104 views
Live Test
True Reach: 102,430,941 views
Chrome: For…
True Reach: 95,598,261 views
Baby & Me
True Reach: 75,779,488 views
The Power Inside
True Reach: 70,052,385 views
5-Hour ENERGY Helps Amazing People
True Reach: 67,860,563 views
Magna Carta Holy Grail
True Reach: 57,344,188 views
What Does 2013 Say?
True Reach: 56,230,354 views
Harlem Shake Miami HEAT Edition
True Reach: 55,087,246 views

Tags: 2013, branded video, Dove, Real Beauty Sketches, top campaigns, viral videos, Visible Measures,