Can I make my ad go viral?

Though the proportion of ads that "go viral" in any meaningful way is small, it is possible to increase your odds of success. We have identified factors that influence the success rate: promotion, support in other media, and specific elements of the creative, including the use of humor, celebrities and edginess. Before implementing a viral strategy, however, you should consider carefully whether such an approach is right for your brand.

Viral potential is very limited for most ads

The reality is, the chances of achieving a major viral success are pretty low. Very few ads achieve high enough viewing levels to make substantial marketing impact. We've estimated that the average number of total YouTube views for typical ads is just 150,000 in the United States and 34,000 in the UK.

To help assess the criteria for viral success, we conducted our own research. We identified 102 ads (31 from the UK and 71 from the United States) that we had researched using our Link copy testing approach, and that were available on YouTube. We used YouTube's publicly available viewing info as our measure of viral success. The number of views (aggregated across all posted versions of the ad) was divided by the number of weeks the ad had been posted to create a "views per week" measure; this measure of viral spread ensures a fair comparison regardless of how long the ads have been on YouTube.