In order to create viral Youtube ads, brands should arouse strong emotion, keep ads to a moderate length of 1 to 1.5 minutes, and use authentic characters, according to a study.
To arouse emotions, a brand should create an ad with a captivating plot, a surprising ending, and authentic characters, said researchers from the University of Southern California, and University of Houston in the US.
They also should use babies and animals more than celebrities, according to the study published in the Journal of Marketing.
YouTube is a media channel where millions of users create and share billions of videos without charge. It has also become a key platform for advertisers.
Brands value YouTube because of the opportunity to reach more than one billion unique users who watch more than one billion hours of video daily, researchers said.
YouTube provides a low-cost and flexible platform for sharing ads with a path to wide viewership if an ad goes viral, they said.
The team tested five hypotheses about what drives sharing of video ads across social media, using two independent field studies that analysed 11 measures of emotion and over 60 ad characteristics.
The study included 109 brands that were among the top 100 US advertisers in 2012 as well as additional brands that were historically active on YouTube.
"Our findings provide marketing and media managers, advertisers, and copywriters with specific theory-based insights into how to design ads to drive virality," said study author Gerard J Tellis.
"While the old mantra touted exposure, exposure, exposure for brand names, we find that minimal brand exposure, discreet information, and strong emotion are key drivers of virality," Tellis said.