How many videos get skipped and are left un-watched out there? How many crucial messages about your amazing products or services are left un-conveyed? If you feel that your video strategy can be summed up as vox clamens in deserto, there is hope yet!

We have put together a selection of videos (for inspiration) but also tips from brands who created videos people actually wanted to watch in 2017. What does it take to be one of the best – as in, most watched, liked and shared – YouTube ads of 2017? Here are the trends that were identified on our European screens.

Despite advertisers continuing to pursue attention across multiple screens, it’s interesting to note that “daily YouTube watch time in people’s living rooms is growing by over 70%”.

YouTube’s Ads Leaderboard reveals which ads were most watched, shared and liked by real people on YouTube. Trends that can be turned into tips, that can be turned into your next successful video campaign. So read on!

Short, or long: that is the question

We wrote many posts about how viewers’ attention span shrinks by the minute – the shorter the video, the better. However, where there’s great storytelling, there’s an attentive audience! Regardless of the video length.

Length was definitely no barrier to storytelling for brands like Heineken this year, nor Hyundai whose “Shackleton’s Return” video stretched to over 5 minutes. A video that strikes a chord with me, as I walk past Shakleton’s childhood home every day. But obviously, with over 100 million views in the 7 weeks after the video was released, I wasn’t the only one paying attention!

In a completely different style – and length – is this Clash of Clan’s teaser for an upcoming update. Just over 40 seconds for a simple and comedic narrative that gained 93 million views!

Short, long… size does matter, but only as long as it’s the right one to serve your purpose. If you feel like your company has a captivating long story to tell – and the means to do a great job – then go for it! If your audience is the kind that responds to shorter ads, then petite and punchy will do just fine.

Family never fails to bring a message home

Emotive storytelling is crucial to building brand love. The Hyundai video above, featuring a mid-sized family car and digging into the subject of family’s cultural heritage and resilience could not have been more spot on!

Here are other top performing brands that played around the family theme and harvested millions of YouTube views in 2017:

In Germany, Netto’s story -featuring an adorable Easter Bunny- outlines the simple theme of never forgetting your family roots and it gained 12 million views.

In the UK, Marks & Spencer’s used a nation’s favourite character, Paddington Bear, to create one of the year’s most successful Christmas campaigns.

For Christmas, there’s nothing more important than making families feel happy!

Music to our ears

With nearly 4.9 billion views on YouTube, Despacito was the the most-watched music video of all time. In 2017, many of the most watched videos thought that they, too could cash in on musical themes… rightly so!

For their 2017 Christmas ad, retailer John Lewis played their magic card – using covers of classics songs. Here they collaborated with Elbow to record a cover of the Beatles’ Gold Slumbers.

Ka-ching! Almost 10 million views.

German property site, Immo Welt, opted for a mobile-first campaign designed to promote their own track across multiple platforms. And what a super-catchy track that is! The strategy paid off, getting a massive 24 million views!

Let’s look at one last example, shall we? This CG tot by Romanian personal ad giant OLX, scored over 8 million views! Not a personal favourite, but the numbers are there…

Cogito ergo sum, thought-provoking ads

Political and social confusion, anxiety around immigration, climate change, sexism, disease, etc. This year gave us many hot topics that advertisers could sink their teeth into. And this has naturally led to some thought-provoking work.

German supermarket Edeka brings a smile on our face with their Eatkarus video – When the power of healthy eating is cleverly entwined with a message about individualism, that’s 4 million views on YouTube.

With “Worlds Apart”, Heineken created a ground-breaking video that manages to address sensitive topics such as diversity and tolerance with finesse. The brand turned the simple idea of two people sitting down to discuss things over a beer into a fascinating social experiment we simply can’t click away from. Their product is woven in the video in the most natural and authentic way.

Almost 15 million views for this four-minute long ad that sparked wider debate across the web (also 5k comments on YouTube!). Whether you like the video or you don’t,  it got attention!

So this was a little somewhat disparate mix of videos that we hope you found relevant.  What do these ads have in common? They are all developed around emotive subjects, they convey a clear message and show richness of mind and spirit. Last but not least, they are perfectly crafted videos.

We hope these examples will spark your creative genius, and that you will soon get in touch with us to see how we can turn this creativity into the next big YouTube thing!