A Year in Review: The 2015 Asia-Pacific YouTube Ads Leaderboard

Google’s 2015 YouTube Asia-Pacific Ads Leaderboard is a definitive list of the ads that resonated the most with audiences across the region this year. These 10 videos were watched for an amazing total of more than 3.5M hours (that's 400 years!) and half of that watchtime happened on mobile.

The YouTube APAC Ads Leaderboard is a testament to creativity throughout the region; but this year, Thailand and Vietnam deserve a special mention. Only two years after the official launch of YouTube in both countries, they are both in the top 10 markets worldwide for numbers of hours watched. Vietnam experienced an eye-popping 120% YoY growth and Thailand experienced 70% YoY growth. With all that momentum, it’s no surprise that local brands have embraced the platform. In this year’s leaderboard, five of the top 10 ads come from either Thailand or Vietnam.

“This year’s leaderboard demonstrates how YouTube can help brands break barriers—whether it’s helping propel new local brands to the top of consumers minds, like Chotot’s funny web series, or helping established brands develop iconic ads that travel across borders, like Message to Space from Hyundai,” said Simon Kahn, chief marketing officer, Google Asia-Pacific.

With three out of the top 10 ads, including the number one spot, Unilever has clearly cracked the code for making engaging branded content, as seen with its popular OMO campaign.

“Vietnamese people are becoming more digital savvy nowadays. Our research shows that 72% of our target consumers surf the internet for entertainment, including online videos. For the launch of OMO Matic, we wanted to demonstrate how to do laundry in a new way by creating ‘edutainment’ content that matched the consumption habits of our consumers. A music video with Son Tung, who is currently one of the most popular celebrities in Vietnam, seemed like the perfect format,” said Bui Thi Thanh Huyen, a business unit director from Unilever.

The results of the campaign were impressive. The video received 6M views in 20 days after it was posted on YouTube; currently that number is 14M and counting. Not only did it exceed Unilever’s targets, but using YouTube’s Brand Lift Surveys, Unilever was also able to measure a lift in brand engagement and brand recall measures.

“We are very happy with the results. Vietnamese consumers are spending more and more time on video sharing platforms like YouTube. Globally at Unilever we’re definitely planning to create more brand building campaigns like this that capture the hearts of our consumers,” Huyen said.

This year’s leaderboard demonstrates how YouTube can help brands break barriers—whether it’s helping propel new local brands to the top of consumers minds, like Chotot’s funny web series, or helping established brands develop iconic ads that travel across borders, like Message to Space from Hyundai.
Simon Kahn, chief marketing officer, Google Asia-Pacific.

What works on YouTube

After analyzing every single skippable (TrueView) ad campaign that ran on YouTube between January and June, we found that ads that last longer than 60 seconds result in higher engagement. Brands have seen that when they create great content that takes the time to tell a complete story, viewers are more likely to be interested. The results from the leaderboard are clear: nine out of ten ads lasted longer than 60 seconds, showing that well-crafted stories resonate best with consumers.

Based on the research, and the evidence of the leaderboard, here are some tips for how brands can win audience attention on YouTube.

1. Make movies, not ads

Half of the ads in the leaderboard play more like movies than ads. They have high production values and fully developed storylines. Product placement is kept to a minimum, but is included where it’s natural. Chotot and Knorr are great examples of this “short movie” approach.

2. Lights, camera, music!

From J-Pop to C-Pop to everything in-between, Asia is home to a rich variety of homegrown musical styles. What OMO and LG demonstrate is that the music video format is a powerful way to get your message across, as long as the branding elements are introduced in a subtle way.

3. Escape from reality

Sometimes you need to just get away from it all. Taiwan Mobile’s tale of kids dressing up is engaging and funny, but no one would mistake it for real life. This escapist element is great, but what makes the ad even better is that the kids can’t stop being kids. The blooper reel is very cute!

4. Use human reactions

YouTube is all about authenticity, so showing real people’s reactions feels right in this medium. The reality show/documentary style is great for showing raw emotions that the audience can relate to. Hyundai and Knorr are great examples of this. Although they have completely different settings (one homecooking and the other outer space), both center on the universal relationship between parents and children.

5. Keep the conversation going

With TV ads, it’s hard to tell a story in several parts—aside from the expense, there’s no elegant way to help viewers catch up with previous “episodes.” Online, it’s easy to tell a story and build increasing engagement over a sequence of videos. Chotot and Sunsilk both realized this trend in their popular series.

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