A virtual ride on the back of a pig. A series of proud nationalists learning they share blood with the enemy. A suburban street populated entirely by duplicates of Ryan Reynolds.
These aren’t movie pitches: They’re the top three YouTube ads in Canada, according to parent company Google Inc., and seeing them in one place can teach video marketers about which trends are most likely to reach audiences – once they’ve stopped laughing, or perhaps, in the case of the nationalist video, wiping away a tear.
“Since YouTube launched skippable ads six years ago, ads have become content that Canadians are choosing to watch,” YouTube Canada communications manager Nicole Bell wrote in a Dec. 7 post on the Google Canada blog. “This year’s top trending ads demonstrate that brands are now creating content that’s meant to entertain.”
Among the trends Google noticed across 2016:
- 360 Video: It should come as no surprise that Google would want to highlight YouTube’s 360-degree video support, which if nothing else the company has used to make a series of award-worthy shorts. “VR/360 support on YouTube gives brands a fresh canvas for connecting with audiences using the power of sight, sound and motion,” Bell wrote in her Dec. 7 blog, and the fact that a 360-degree video from mobile game Clash of Clans was Canada’s most viewed this year indicates viewers are tuning in.
- Make ’em Laugh: Most of the ads on this year’s list aim to tickle your funny bone, whether it’s the aforementioned pig riding and Ryan Reynolds’ favourite street, Ant Man opening a can of Coke for the Incredible Hulk, or WestJet’s April Fool’s day joke showing off a robot that delivers food by sliding across the plane’s roof. Entertainment sells.
- Gaming Wins: So do video games. And yes, three of this year’s top ads were for games (two of them hailing from the creators of Clash of Clans), but gaming dominated last year’s YouTube Ads Leaderboard too, highlighting gamers’ love of the platform and the value of designing content that appeals to them, Bell wrote.
- Celebrating Diversity: It’s the nationalist ad, from a Danish travel company of all places, that’s the biggest outlier here (well, that and a cake recipe from Tropicana). Bell suspects that “when much of the world was looking inward, Canada was proudly looking outward and celebrating the strength of our diversity,” though we’re guessing the creators’ apparent empathy for their subjects helped too.
In case you’re wondering, the top YouTube ads among Canadian viewers in 2016 were:
- Clash of Clans: Hog Rider 360°
- The DNA Journey by Momondo (above)
- Ryanville by Hyundai Motor America
- Starter Pokémon for Pokémon Sun and Pokémon Moon Revealed!
- Coca-Cola: Coke Mini (Hulk vs. Ant-Man)
- Clash Royale: Landscaper
- Apple – iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus in 107 seconds
- Zag Bank – Learning Spanish
- April Fool’s – Meet #RALFH, WestJet’s newest innovation in inflight comfort
- Orange Poppy Seed Loaf by Tropicana Canada
YouTube Canada’s Bell also singled out the “SickKids VS: Undeniable” ad by the Toronto-based Hospital for Sick Children for an honourable mention: While it came out in October and thus did not have the length of time its competitors did to rack up viewer numbers, it’s trending well and likely to continue having an impact into the new year, she wrote.