- YouTube published its annual list of the ads that performed best on its platform this year, with tech companies and streamers landing in the top 10 at both the global and U.S. level.
- The number one ad overall was Amazon’s Super Bowl commercial humorously depicting the strain put on Scarlett Johansson and Colin Jost’s relationship after their Alexa smart device becomes a true mind reader.
- HBO Max and Netflix generated engagement with programming-focused promotions, while Clash of Clans and Apple also appeared high on the international rankings. Absent from the lists were major packaged goods brands, financial services marketers and retailers, an indication of how those verticals have adjusted strategy in a challenging year.
Amazon remains a powerful force in YouTube advertising, again nabbing the top spot on the year-end rankings with a Super Bowl spot focused on Alexa. The celebrity couple concept was emblematic of a strong bounce back for humor at the big game following more cautious pandemic years. The Ads Leaderboard algorithmically assesses creative based on organic and paid views, as well as watch time and audience retention.
“On YouTube, humor and relatable imperfection can show that a brand gets their audience, and that’s reflected in how products and services are advertised,” said Maria Perazzo, creative director at Google, in a statement. “Amazon’s Mind Reader ad featuring Scarlett Johansson and Colin Jost showcases the greatness of mundane couplehood through self aware humor.”
The e-commerce giant’s big game commercials have frequently dominated the Ads Leaderboard, including through a 2021 campaign starring Michael B. Jordan that was similarly centered around the smart home device. While these efforts managed to draw tens of millions of views, they haven’t stemmed fundamental problems at the Alexa division.
A recent Business Insider report described the product as being on “life support” amid struggles with monetization and heavy losses imposed on Amazon’s digital unit. Amazon is now enacting a round of layoffs that could affect Alexa teams, the report said.
Still, Amazon’s “Mind Reader” might mark a win as a pure brand-building exercise. The commercial at the same time shows how Super Bowl campaigns provide long legs digitally. Big game commercials from BMW and the website-builder Squarespace also cropped up in the top-10 rankings for U.S. ads.
The 2022 global list was populated with other tech and platform companies. Telecom Egypt landed at number two, while Apple commanded the No. 4 spot. Squarespace was number 10 internationally. Automotive had a notable showing at the global level, with Hyundai Worldwide and Chevrolet Brazil in spots five and nine, respectively. But virtually no other consumer products appeared on either Ads Leaderboard, making for a somewhat dry playing field. Contrast that to 2019, when purposeful ads from Procter & Gamble’s Gillette and Nike scored accolades and food beverage brands like Doritos and Stella Artois ranked high.
The absence of CPGs this year potentially speaks to how the vertical has switched up media strategy as consumers contend with soaring inflation. Many in the industry are now directing more budgets to retail media, which largely consists of ads placed on retail sites that are targeted and measured based on shopper data. Those tactics can be cost-effective, while digital video tends to be a more premium channel.
YouTube has struggled with weakening ad demand in 2022, though that’s hardly uncommon among tech players. The Google-owned platform saw revenue actually shrink 2% in the third quarter, a deceleration that arrives as the company contends with fiercer competition from TikTok.