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Visible Measures publish this chart weekly – tracking the most watched videos online – which is effectively a measure of viral videos, although some of the very best weren’t written to be ‘viral’.

What piqued my interest was the presence of some advertising spots that aren’t at all new, as commented on by Abbey Klaassen in this article on Ad Age. In particular, T-Mobile ‘Dance‘, Cadbury ‘Eyebrows‘ and Evian ‘Babies‘… embedded below, in case you haven’t already added to the stats! Not one of these was written as a “viral film” in the old sense of the word. But they’re good enough that people are interested in watching them even after they’ve finished on air. And with over 200 thousand people watching weekly (since that’s what it takes to make it in to the top ten), they’re adding good reach and/or frequency to the campaigns.

The reason I ask whether this could become an effectiveness measure is slightly different, though. I’m sure people have used the ‘online viewers’ measure to prove the added reach/frequency or ‘eyeballs’ gained, but have they used it as a more qualitative measure of being genuinely great? Because lots of ads go into this top ten (Nike’s ‘today was a good day’ and Microsoft’s ‘Laptop hunters’ for instance), however few stay in the ranks for 20+ weeks – and that kind of lasting impact seems a lot more effective than any “500 thousand people watched it online” quote.

In a totally separate league, there is the work for Ray Ban “Never Hide” campaign – since it set out to be a viral piece – with all of the low budget limitations and the need to capture pass-on viewings; after all, this film didn’t have the advantage of being able to gain momentum on TV first. And it’s been repeatable, with the catching taking on new forms over time… so it’s a campaign of viral value, not just a one-off. I mention this as well, since it held in the charts for ages, and even re-appears again this year.

Whether written for TV, or written for online viewing, they all have one thing in common… The message (or explicit advertising part of the ad) is subtle – allowing people to enjoy something that is content, with entertainment value and a degree of “how the hell did they do that?”. Not a bad thing for us all to aim for in our quest for effectiveness…