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A year on YouTube: Takeaways from great ads of 2023

More than ever before, in 2023, the world watched YouTube. Viewers followed the top trends and creators and let their favorite artists soundtrack their lives. Sports fans tuned into the new home of NFL Sunday Ticket and we saw groundbreaking new forms of creativity fueled by AI.

In the world of YouTube ads, brands and culture moved together. Opportunities to connect with audiences felt boundless, driven by innovations in AI and growth on connected TVs and YouTube Shorts. With the year coming to a close, we’re taking a look back at the expansive creativity in advertising on YouTube—and looking ahead to what’s possible.

Revisiting great YouTube ads from 2023—and what’s next for brands in 2024

In 2023, brands came to life in more stories across more formats and screens than ever before, showing that storytelling has no limits on YouTube. For instance:

With so many ways, places and creative formats to bring your brand to life—how will you uncover new ways to connect with viewers on YouTube? Here are even more standout ads from 2023, with takeaways for marketers.

1) Tap into culture’s biggest hitmakers: Creators

Every day, billions of viewers tune into YouTube to see what their favorite creators are up to. In fact, 68% of Gen Z YouTube viewers agree creators are why they visit YouTube.

This year, audiences loved the way they brought brands to life. As in the Reese’s joyful creator partnerships that drew 73K likes. Plus there’s SUGAR Cosmetics’ playful makeup tutorial that inspired 14K comments, Brevitē’s product demo that landed 30M views and Old Spice’s clever behind the scenes that earned 82K likes.

2) Bring your brand to life in new ways with Shorts

Shorts can go high and low, creator and celebrity, brand and performance. They can also have an immediate impact on your campaigns: When YouTube advertisers added a vertical creative asset to their Video Action Campaigns, they delivered 10% to 20% more conversions per dollar on Shorts than campaigns that used landscape assets alone.1

Brand creativity in Shorts exploded this year. Advertisers of all kinds created great demos, skits and stories that sparked interest, spurred sales and built fans of their brands. Clash of Clans looped its way to more than 76M views and 2.5M likes. Domino’s used offbeat offers and Squarespace showed how it’s designed to sell anything.

3) Unlock deeper connections with longform storytelling

For most of 2023, YouTube was viewers’ most-watched platform on connected TVs according to Nielsen. This year, brands brought rich storytelling to YouTube (including the big screen).

For Nissan, that meant giving lofi hiphop fans a four-hour listening session behind the wheel of their new all-electric ARIYA—and earning 18M views and thousands of positive comments. Samsung helped viewers go deep on the features for the Galaxy S23 Ultra, and live streamed their entire launch event—with 19M views to date.

For Toyota, their storytelling meant extending their Gazoo Racing series and their hilariously terrible clients into another five-minute episode. For Pixel, a playful series called #BestPhonesForever with a sitcom vibe amassed 313M views. And finally, Orange France couldn’t have lured us into their clever twist without the time to set it up, and we’d never be as moved to check our biases when it comes to sports.

4) Find your audience, enhance your creativity and cut out the guesswork with AI

With unlimited social and streaming options, peoples’ viewing habits are more complex than ever. Reaching them on YouTube doesn’t have to be.

Advertisers who put AI-powered campaigns to work for them have seen exponential impact: Research with NCS shows that AI-powered Video Reach Campaign mixes on YouTube earned an average return on ad spend 3.7X higher than manually optimized campaigns. That’s why brands like Warner Brothers Korea are putting AI to work to drive more views for less, while snack manufacturing giant Mondelēz International’s digital transformation to embrace AI increased ROI by over 10% globally and 20% in the U.S.

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This year, brands showed up as layered and multi-faceted. Their stories came to life on YouTube in various lengths, styles, tones and formats, and drew millions of viewers and comments along the way. Each creative choice revealed a different aspect of the brand’s purpose and personality.

Thank you for joining millions of creators and viewers in bringing your brilliant stories and ideas to YouTube.

1. Source: Google/YouTube Internal Data, Global, April 2022–June 2022.

This article contains a curated selection of ads from among the most loved and most creative ads globally in 2023.

View all the videos mentioned below or view the playlist on YouTube.

Apple (1, 2, 3), Brevitē, Clash of Clans, Domino’s, Duolingo, Kangaroo Hoppers, Louis Vuitton (1, 2), Motorola US, Nissan USA, Old Spice, Orange France, Pepsi (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6), Pixel, Reese’s, Samsung (1, 2), Squarespace, SUGAR Cosmetics, Toyota

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