Explore award-winning video ads that drove business results, and lessons on why they shined bright.
People watch YouTube
and YouTube TV
on their TV screens1
2020 forced brands to be more adaptive than ever to changing consumer behaviors, and social distancing accelerated a shift toward online video. In the U.S., streaming video — and watching YouTube on TV screens — became mainstream.
Online video gave advertisers new opportunities to reach people at their most engaged — and it challenged them to stand out.
Winners of the annual YouTube Works Awards did just that, proving that in a year wrought by limitations, innovative campaigns could captivate audiences and drive business results.
Here are the seven most effective YouTube campaigns of 2020, along with lessons to consider in your own video marketing.
Match Made in Hell
YouTube views in 24 hours
increase in consideration
vs. prior campaigns
increase in branded search terms
Rather than avoiding 2020’s turmoil, Match embraced it with humor and empathy. In a made-for-YouTube ad, Satan and 2020 find romance through Match’s dating app, while the brand acknowledges daters’ challenges and gives them hope for 2021.
Awkwafina Is Nora from Queens
viewers tuned in to the series
new YouTube subscribers
series premiere for cable comedy
Promoting a cable show to a digital audience can be tricky, which is why Comedy Central responded with a campaign built specifically for YouTube’s most immersive screen, connected TV (CTV). Its 21-minute pilot episode of “Awkwafina Is Nora from Queens” ran as a CTV ad to drive buzz and engagement online.
Made in America
increase in organic watch time
increase in YouTube subscribers
With a core audience of small-business owners looking for guidance to survive the pandemic, GoDaddy responded with a YouTube docuseries following real-life entrepreneurs who defied the odds, along with tutorial content that invited viewers to dive deeper.
OKLAHOMA TOURISM AND RECREATION DEPARTMENT
in projected lodging revenue —
an ROI of 33:1
increase in video views on TV screens
To inspire people to travel safely, the Oklahoma Tourism and Recreation Department created a weekly YouTube series highlighting the state’s magic through a socially distant road trip. “RoadTripOK” reached and engaged a regional audience across YouTube screens, including CTV.
sales growth for stand-up pouches
in retail orders in brand history
To drive product interest, M&M’s leaned into personal relevance. It developed dynamic creatives featuring 50+ unique M&M’s bags with real-time commentary on trending topics and cultural moments, like the Oscars. The custom ads were then targeted to relevant, popular YouTube videos.
Adobe Stock Film Fest
increase in brand awareness
new subscriptions to Adobe
With photo shoots restricted, Adobe showcased Adobe Stock as a powerful storytelling tool, rather than a backup option. It challenged 13 filmmakers to create films using nothing but Adobe Stock images. Films ran in the first-ever Adobe Stock Film Festival, which premiered on YouTube.
ST. JUDE CHILDREN’S RESEARCH HOSPITAL
The Game Theory $1,000,000 Challenge
trending video on YouTube
Leveraging momentum around Giving Tuesday, St. Jude partnered with prolific YouTube creators The Game Theorists to deliver a nine-hour live stream benefiting children’s cancer research. By tapping into a mix of ad formats, creator fandom, and social sharing, St. Jude more than tripled its fundraising goal.
Video Marketing Manger, YouTube Ads
Designer: Kate McManus; Editor: Meg Haller; Product Lead: Casey Fictum; Production Lead: Jenny Maughan.