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Celebrating ten years of Big Game ads on YouTube

By Tara Walpert Levy

Vice President of Agency & Media Solutions

Every year, a few Big Game ads stand out from the pack and keep us smiling long after the last play … like your daughter’s first date, that time Liam Neeson wanted revenge, or the year we met whatever this is.

Today, we’re kicking off YouTube AdBlitz for the tenth time, a destination where you can come watch and vote for all your favorite Big Game ads.

To continue to spotlight excellence as part of our AdBlitz program, we've made two key changes. First, in addition to our main list of AdBlitz winners, we'll be recognizing top performers in individual categories, like automotive and food & beverage. Second, we've seen more and more traditional in-game advertisers choose to launch ads around the Big Game versus during the actual broadcast. This year, these spots will also be eligible to compete in AdBlitz.

In honor of AdBlitz's ten-year anniversary, we’re also taking a look back at the top 20 Big Game ads from the past nine years that have stood the test of time. Collectively, these ads have racked up more than 440M minutes of watchtime along the way.

Of course as much as we love Big Game ads, they also represent just one slice of all the football-related content people watch on YouTube. Overall, watchtime for football-related content has grown over 90 percent year-over-year.1 Given this huge interest, it’s no surprise that the NFL’s YouTube channel, which they unveiled two years ago, just passed the 1 billion views mark, a huge achievement.

In looking at the ads that made our top 20 list, we noticed a few things.

The ad your ad could smell like: Iconic ads continue to thrive on YouTube long past their initial release. Some of the most memorable ads from previous years, like Old Spice's “The Man Your Man Could Smell Like” (2010), Ram Trucks’ "Farmer" (2013) and GoPro and Red Bull’s “Red Bull Stratos - The Full Story” (2014) collectively garnered over 5M views in 2016, years after their original airing. And combined, these ads have driven over 92.5M lifetime views.

Advertisers use the force … of uploading early. Advertisers that upload early do better overall. The share of Big Game ads released on YouTube before game day grew over 200 percent from 2008 to 2016, due to a combination of more advertisers releasing their television spots early on YouTube as well the growing popularity of teasers. Among YouTube's Top 20 ranking, 90 percent of the ads listed were released on YouTube before the Super Bowl that year, including Volkswagen’s “The Force” and Budweiser’s “Puppy Love.”

Pokemon goes global: Just as the Big Game has become a global moment, so have the ads. Outside the U.S., Super Bowl ad viewership on YouTube has grown over 28x since 2008. In 2016, the three countries outside the U.S. that watched the most Super Bowl ads on YouTube are Canada, the United Kingdom and Russia. Some of the most popular Super Bowl ads internationally included: Pokemon’s “#Pokemon20: Pokémon Super Bowl Commercial,” Coca-Cola’s “Coke Mini (Hulk vs. Ant-Man),” and Heinz’s “Wiener Stampede - Extended Cut.”

Our full AdBlitz 10-Year Anniversary report is here along with the full list of the top 20 ads of the past nine years. We encourage you to take a look and come up with your own insights. And of course check back with AdBlitz before, during, and after the Big Game to see and vote for this year’s additions to the catalog of iconic Big Game ads.

Tara Walpert Levy, Vice President of Agency & Media Solutions, recently watched “NFL 2016: Part One” -- A Bad Lip Reading of the NFL.”

1YouTube Data, U.S. Classification as American Football video was based on public data such as headlines, tags, etc., and may not account for every such video available on YouTube, January - November 2016.