Unruly / Blog / YouTube Turns 10: How Social Video Advertising Has Changed Over The Last Decade

YouTube Turns 10: How Social Video Advertising Has Changed Over The Last Decade

Landmark birthdays are a time for reflection. With YouTube hitting the ripe old age of 10 this week, we thought we’d celebrate by looking back to see how video advertising has changed over the last decade. Read on to see which ads have topped the Unruly Viral Video Chart each year and just how far video sharing has come since it took its first steps in 2005…

The sharing of video ads has multiplied more than 63 times over the last decade. Looking back at 2006, Zazoo’s hilarious condom commercial finished the year as the most shared ad after attracting 92,100 shares. Fast forward to 2015, and Activia’s World Cup collaboration with Colombian pop princess Shakira “La La La” broke records with more than 5.8 million shares – a stunning increase of over 6,000%.

For us at Unruly, this explosion of video sharing is no surprise at all. Since we launched the Unruly Viral Video Chart back in 2006, we have witnessed first-hand this exponential growth in people reaching for the sharing button and content spreading faster and further than ever before.

Back when we launched the Unruly Viral Video Chart in February 2006, the blogosphere was driving the majority of video sharing activity, Facebook was still a closed platform for Ivy Leaguers and Twitter was as yet unknown (Jack Dorsey sent the first tweet on March 21, 2006).

Obviously, things have changed a lot since then. These days the majority of YouTube videos shares now occur through Facebook, while Facebook Video has emerged as a serious rival to the Google-owned video platform. Short-form video platforms such as Vine and Instagram have now brought GIF-style looping into the social sphere and these innovations, alongside alternative video sites like Vimeo, have led to an increasingly fragmented video ecosystem. So much so that three out of four online videos views now take place outside of YouTube.

But how has online video content evolved? To see how, we have compiled a list of the top three ads of every year since 2006. As you can see, just as the online video market has changed radically over the decade since YouTube’s inception, so has the content.

These days, people don’t care whether a video is made by movie studio in LA, a teenage boy in his bedroom or a brand in their HQ, just as long as it delivers.

Tastes have also changed. Look back at the ads which topped the chart almost a decade ago and you see a heavy emphasis on broad humour in television commercials. However, seminal hits like Evian’s “Roller Babies” in 2009 and Tipp-Ex’s 2010 interactive masterpiece, “Hunter Shoots A Bear” ushered in a new digital-first age of advertising. Since then, chart-topping ads have no longer been 30-second TV ads casually pushed out on the web, but digital experiences tailor-made to be viewed and shared across all corners of the social web.

Even advertisers at the Super Bowl, the grandest TV ad opportunity of them all, have had to change their ways. In the wake of Volkswagen’s runaway success with “The Force” in 2011, brands have learned to optimise consumer attention by releasing their ads across the Open Web well before game day.

The result is an incredible range of different ads designed to meet the ever-growing appetite for online video content, from campaigns which blur the lines between traditional advertising and music videos, to the gleeful pranking of members of the public.

Anyway, enough words – here are the ads. Happy birthday YouTube and enjoy!


Most shared ads 2006-2015*

2015 (so far)

1. Budweiser: “Lost Puppy”

Shares: 2,415,593



1. Activia: “La La La, feat Shakira”

Shares: 5,819,822

2. 20th Century Fox: “Devil Baby Attack” – 2,153,236 shares

3. Nike: “The Last Game” – 2,151,148



1. Dove: “Real Beauty Sketches”

Shares: 4,365,922

2. GEICO: “Hump Day” – 4,118,653 shares

3. Evian: “Baby & Me” – 3,511,878



1. TNT Benelux: “A dramatic surprise on a quiet square”

Shares: 4,352,283

2. Melbourne Metro – “Dumb Ways to Die” – 2,528,789

3. Abercrombie & Fitch: “Call Me Maybe” – 2,435,74



1. Volkswagen: “The Force”

Shares: 4,713,179

2. DC Shoes: “Gymkhana Four” – 2,028,238

3. T-Mobile: “Angry Birds live” – 1,783,607



1. Nike: “Write the Future”

Shares: 614,301

2. DC Shoes: “Gymkhana 3” – 564,550

3. Tippex: “A Hunter Shoots A Bear” – 447,106 shares



1. Evian: “Roller Babies”

Shares: 538,167

2. Inspired Bicycles: “Inspired Bicycles” – 204,051 shares

3. DC Shoes: “Gymkhana Two” – 193,595 shares



1. Heineken: “Fridge”

Shares: 270,997

2. TFL: “Test Your Awareness” – 83,074 shares

3. Pantene: “Violin” – 79,180 shares



1. Pepsi: “Monk”

Shares: 91,112

2. Cadbury’s “Gorilla” – 53,249 shares

3. Orbit: “Dirty Mouths” – 40,071 shares



1. Zazoo: “Use Condoms”

Shares: 92,100

2. Soesman Language Training: “A Day Trip” – 91,341 shares

3. Dove: “Evolution” – 60,954 shares

 *Share numbers take from the end of each year


Top 10 most shared ads of all time*

Activia: “La La La, feat Shakira” – 5,887,078

Volkswagen: “The Force” – 5,285,395

Melbourne Metro – “Dumb Ways to Die” – 4,866,849

TNT Benelux: “A dramatic surprise on a quiet square” – 4,735,510

Dove: “Real Beauty Sketches” – 4,623,226

GEICO: “Hump Day” – 4,118,653 shares

Universal: “Hey Minions Fans” – 3,982,475

Evian: “Baby & Me” – 3,937,546

Budweiser: “9/11” – 3,485,685

Volvo Trucks: “The Epic Split” – 3,246,468


* Share numbers recorded on February 5, 2015