Last week, we learned from AdWeek that Google had posted the latest YouTube Ads Leaderboard with the platform’s top ads (as ranked by an algorithm which factors engagements with total reach and clicks).
The whole list is worth watching and learning if you’ve got time. Otherwise, we’ll give you 80% of the value in 20% of the time (or way less) by dropping some CLIKK Notes on three of the heavyweight contenders.
Wherever you see an emoji, that’s a lesson exemplified by the ad—so it’s worth noting whenever you see an emoji multiple times. We’re listing the ads using their verbatim YouTube video titles.
Rank #1: Save Your Skin With Dr. Squatch Soap (4:59)
Part of what makes this ad so spectacularly good, both creatively and pragmatically, is 💥 the incredible speed of the introduction. Within literally 2 seconds (seriously, go count ’em), they have broken a plate in front of you. Within 3 seconds total, they’ve explicitly 👥 identified their target audience. We have never seen an ad waste so little time getting started, and we LOVE it.
Speaking of “not wasting time,” they don’t really invest in transitions and it works. Their first non-transition: straight to 💚 user testimonials, where they’ve taken a smart page from the Old Spice playbook and leveraged what the opposite sex thinks (in this case women, since Squatch is aimed at men).
Last thing here: it’s just 📝 really good copy. (You may not think of it as ‘copy’ since it’s spoken in a video, but it still counts. Someone had to write it first.) Choice example: “Stop marinating your Man Meat in [ingredients that are] harmful to your well-being, your body, and your sperm count.” Now THAT is copy that knows how to tap into its audience’s feelings and fears.
Rank #6: Are You Ready to Try Grammarly? (1:21)
Again, they’ve 💥 wasted no time with the introduction. It’s not jolting like Squatch’s intro was, but it’s similarly quick to 👥 identify a target audience, in this case students. How quickly? Within 3 seconds, by the fifth word of copy.
Maybe they just make it seem like the obvious approach (for a digital product), but they do an excellent job of 🎥 showcasing the product. Not only do they show Grammarly in all kinds of app contexts, but they also show it at work across different devices — which is smart, but especially for 👥 their target audience of students, who are tech-forward practically by definition.
Lastly, huge brownie points for attention to detail, because ALL of their visible examples are tailored to 👥 their target audience, as is the spoken copy.
Rank #9: How to charge 2 devices in the woods on a cloudy day (4:58)
Yet again, 💥 zero time wasted with the introduction—and yet again, this video’s way of “starting with a bang” is totally different. It’s subtle, but layered. In fact, all of this ad’s main virtues are visible in the first five seconds.
A bit of 📝 clever copywriting gives this ad an advantage before it even begins. Realize that (in this case, at least) you saw the title before you saw anything else. You stopped once you saw it, right? It is Oddly Specific in the best sense of the term, where both parts of it matter: it’s Odd because 98% of people won’t care about this, yet it’s also Specific because it speaks directly to those 2% who are interested, and with exact details ready.
Another thing happening within the first frame of the video: it’s already a pitch-perfect 🎥 product demo, since the product (a solar-powered device charger) is in plain view, as is the top of an iPad and the woods, plus a bonus creek. Again, oddly specific, but spot-frickin’-on for the intended people.
TL;DR 💥 Start fast. No, faster. 👥 Know, identify, and fit to your audience (however broad or specific). 📝 Use sharp copy to introduce the ad and to speak directly, even bluntly, to your target audience. 🎥 Show people the product. Let them picture it. Make it seem idiot-proof. 💚 When possible, let your audience (or ideally, customers) speak for you.