Last week, Facebook announced that a select group of advertisers will finally receive access to Premium Video Ads in an effort to drive branding objectives on the platform. As the social network inches closer to a wider rollout of its auto-play ad unit, brands are probably eager to learn more about how you can get involved. Although this is currently a limited introduction, advertisers will want to start brainstorming and preparing for the review process now.

Facebook began testing the Premium Video Ads last December with a movie trailer for Lionsgate’s “Divergent.” The ad type is designed for advertisers who want to reach a large audience with high-quality sight, sound, and motion. Each 15-second video ad will start playing without sound as it appears on screen. If tapped, the video will expand into full-screen view and sound will start. Facebook members can expect to begin seeing these ads over the next few months.

Premium Video Ads are bought and measured in a way that’s similar to how you already buy and measure ads on TV. As a result, Facebook will hold these ads to a much higher standard than its more traditional ad offerings. The company will work with Ace Metrix, which will help review and assess how engaging the creative is for each ad before it appears on the platform. Each video will be screened before it airs by a panel of about 500 viewers who will give the video a score to reflect how much they liked it. Only high-scoring videos will make it onto the platform.

This enables Facebook to objectively measure the creative quality of each video, as well as highlight performance indicators for advertisers such as watchability, meaningfulness, and emotional resonance. The company has been very cautious about this rollout, taking every step necessary to ensure that the auto-play videos don’t negatively impact user experience. It’s for this reason that advertisers will need to spend more time creating suitable ads that consumers will not only want to watch, but engage with as well.

As you start brainstorming your video ad campaign, we’ve highlighted some of the past year’s top-performing branded video ads below. These viral videos have been viewed more than 170 million times collectively and have generated upwards of 10 million shares.


The insurance company’s “Hump Day” ad debuted on May 22, 2013. By July, the video ad had already amassed more than 1.62 million shares and 5.3 million views. Considering Geico’s past success, these figures weren’t all that surprising. What did surprise people about this campaign is when these shares occurred.

According to Unruly, the average social video attracts most of its shares within the first few days. However, this ad continues to see a huge spike in views every Wednesday since its launch. In fact, more than two-thirds (67.3 percent) of its shares occur on Wednesdays. For comparison, Monday and Tuesday see 2.6 percent and 3.5 percent respectively. As of today, “Hump Day” has more than 20 million views.

Takeaway for advertisers: Create a video ad with a lot of sharing potential. If you’re looking for long-term reach, don’t confine yourself to an ad so specific that it’s only relevant for a limited time.

Volvo Trucks

Two days after airing, Volvo Trucks’ “Epic Split” ad had already drawn more than 8 million views. First aired on November 13, 2013, the video ad featured Jean-Claude Van Damme performing a split between two moving Volvo FM trucks. Part of the video’s appeal was trying to decide whether the stunt had really happened — it had.

When the company first began planning the launch of five new trucks, the creative team knew it needed a video campaign that would create attention while informing specific audiences. “We know the media landscape is changing,” said Anders Vilhelmsson, public relations manager for the Volvo Trucks brand. “We have different media consumption habits today than a couple years ago. So that is why we invest in this cost-efficient way of reaching out to millions of people online.”

The “Epic Split” video, which today has more than 70 million views, is actually part of a series of stunt videos produced by Volvo meant to illustrate innovations in its vehicles. Another video in the series, “The Ballerina Stunt,” also went viral, gaining more than 9.5 million views.

Takeaway for advertisers: Publish something that will not only entertain viewers, but will pique their curiosity as well. An ad featuring a driver and vehicle on a closed course won’t prompt shares, but an action-star doing the splits between two moving trucks? That’s gold.


There’s nothing sexy about bathrooms, but that hasn’t stopped the toilet spray brand PooPouri from winning over consumers. The company’s “Girls Don’t Poop” video first aired on September 10, 2013, and since then it has received more than 24.2 million views and 1.2 million shares. So what made a video ad about going to the bathroom so successful? The script.

The video itself was relatable and entertaining, but it was the hilarious narration of the script that kept viewers tuned in. The dialogue was written by Joel Ackerman and delivered by 21-year-old actress Bethany Woodruff. “We kept coming up with new creative ways to talk about bowel movements that were poetic and sophisticated,” said Ackerman. “Much of the humor came from the contrast of that with the disgusting stuff we do in the bathroom.”

And the pooping puns didn’t stop with the video. According to a message posted on PooPouri’s website, traffic to its site increased by more than 13,000 percent in just one week. “Our new YouTube video has constipated our shipping system,” the company wrote. Shipments of its product were pushed back two weeks due to the popularity of the video ad. Today, the “Girls Don’t Poop” video has more than 24 million views.

Takeaway for advertisers: Viral videos don’t come easy, especially if what you’re selling is considered “unsexy” by society. PooPouri took a well-calculated risk on using edgy humor. “… Most people aren’t offended if you talk like a regular person, and speak openly and honestly about your products and their benefits.”

Pepsi MAX

In March 2013, Pepsi took YouTube by storm with a little help from Jeff Gordon and an unsuspecting car salesman. The “Test Drive” video racked up more views  in a matter of weeks than any of YouTube’s 2012 Leaderboard ads have tallied since their upload dates. Over the course of a year, the video has amassed more than 39.6 million views. But with great power comes great skepticism.

Following the ad’s debut, journalists began attacking the validity of the video — specifically whether the salesman’s reaction was real or staged. We think that “Test Drive” was entertaining either way, but all the speculation helped to increase views and also opened the door for a sequel. On February 27, 2014, Pepsi once again teamed up with a disguised Jeff Gordon to prank automotive journalist Travis Okulski.

Needless to say, the follow-up was a success — in less than a month it has received almost 15 million views. You can read all about the behind-the-scenes preparations in AdWeek’s Q&A with the creative director.

Takeaway for advertisers: Know when to capitalize on your success. Although “Test Drive” was a huge hit, it was the reactions to it that gave Pepsi a strong narrative going into the second one. Don’t just assume that because video one produced fans that a follow-up will have the same results. Don’t depend solely on your metrics for inspiration.

Granted, these examples all surpass the 15-second limit that applies to Facebook’s Premium Video Ads, but each one demonstrates the creativity of the teams involved in making the videos. Advertisers hoping to take advantage of the new ad unit will need to go above and beyond, like the brands above, to find success with Premium Video Ads.