Video Essentials

TED Gives Thumbs Up to Ads Worth Spreading

TED is driving more viewers to “ads worth spreading,” and it’s making the online video world richer as it does so.

A few years back, TED, which organizes conferences on “ideas worth spreading” turned its attention to commercials. Its goal was to highlight and promote video ads that did more than pitch a product, but offered messages that viewers would want to share. TED looked for ads that started a conversation.

TED’s Ads Worth Spreading initiative is back, and the best of the best can be viewed in one convenient YouTube playlist. Viewers will see entries from Chipotle, Microsoft, and Rethink Breast Cancer: Your Man Reminder (shown here).

The ad experts at TED have also published a PDF report on what they’ve learned about ad excellence. Download the full report for free to get all the findings. Here are a few highlights:

  • Be a Storyteller: No matter the technology or the medium, story is central. It’s what keeps people hanging on. Good use of storytelling is one reason why the best online video ads are longer today, up to four minutes in length. Other important factors is making an ad worth spreading — such as shareability and social good — are only possible when carried by a compelling story.
  • Use Multiple Platforms: TED looked for ads that started a conversation, so it’s not surprising that effective ads give viewers a place to hold that conversation. The ad might link to a separate page where viewers can interact with other viewers and post their thoughts. TED cautions, however, that this approach doesn’t work for every product or campaign: efforts to engage viewers in discussions can feel like they were tacked on, and consumers will never feel a friendly relationship with some companies.
  • Be in the Moment: Effective ads need to connect with viewers, and one way to do that is to listen to the conversations already happening and take part in them. TED found excellent ads that contributed to a cultural dialog, demonstrating a seriousness to a cause and showing products in innovative ways.

For more inspiration on creating great video ads, watch the YouTube playlist and download TED’s full report.


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