Smarter video planning

This article is part of a series of articles on smarter video planning. Read more.

Key findings

Ads become viral when more viewers share them. As a result, it is important to understand when and why people share ads. We studied what it is about ads and the products they represent that make them more (vs. less) likely to be shared. Our co-authored study1 of YouTube video ads arrives at the following conclusions:

  • Informational ads are shared less than emotional ads.
  • But informational ads are shared more than emotional ads when either (a) the product or (b) the process of sharing has some risk to consumers. For example, informational ads induce more sharing when the product’s price is high vs. low (e.g. high financial risk), or when the product is new vs. existing (risk of an unknown product).
  • Ads that appeal to positive emotions, such as inspiration or amusement, stimulate significant ad sharing.
  • Emotional ads are shared more on general platforms (Facebook, Google+, Twitter) than on professional, work-related social media platforms like LinkedIn, whereas the opposite is true for informational ads. Sharing emotional ads on professional platforms like LinkedIn is perceived as being potentially inappropriate, creating reputational risk to the sharer.
  • Ads are shared more when the brand name is not prominent in the ad. A prominent brand name appears early in the ad, it is shown for a long time, and throughout the ad.
  • Ads are shared more when they tell a story. Advertisers tell stories by making sure that ads have a plot, characters (including attention-getting figures like babies, animals and celebrities) and an element of surprise.
  • Ads are shared more when they are between 1.2 to 1.7 minutes long, compared to shorter or longer ads (see Figure 1).
  • Most advertisers develop ads that run counter to these conclusions, meaning that they are minimising their chances of making their ads get shared and go viral.

What you need to know